By Thomas Wills, The North Fork Merchant Herald
Published November 2017
On Friday, October 6, Shadescapes Americas received their official plaque declaring them a 2017 Colorado Company to Watch. The presentation took place at the company’s national headquarters in downtown Hotchkiss in front of about 90 Valley business owners and other local movers and shakers. Maggie Maxwell of Colorado Companies to Watch presented the award and owner Jo Edmondson then shared a moment with her staff.
Edmondson started the company after moving to the Valley some 17 years ago from Boulder by way of other more urban areas. Like a lot of more recent immigrants to the Valley she was looking for a slower paced lifestyle and a higher quality of life. Two years after arriving she got busy forming a company to import high quality umbrellas and shade solutions. The company steadily grew, operating out of a scatter of offices across the Valley until 2015 when they took a leap forward and purchased the historic 1906 Taylor building in downtown Hotchkiss and brought everything together into a new headquarters that combines history with a feel of urban modernism. Shiny steel meeting rustic wood. Sunny, wide open, and uncluttered. Shadescapes products may be seen at the headquarters showroom and on-line at shadescapesamericas.com. The shade products generally begin at under a thousand dollars up to about $6,000. The website lists ten core team employees at the Hotchkiss facility.
The new building was made possible through working with Delta County Economic Development and its then new director, Trish Thibido, who recently accepted an economic development job with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Thibido worked with Shadescapes in getting them a REDI business development grant to help with the purchase and renovation of the building. Shadescapes was nominated for the award by Nancy Murphy of Region 10, which focuses a lot on economic development. Murphy spoke at the event as did Merideth Marshall of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Marshall said that the North Fork is a specific area that she points to when trying to inspire other parts of the state.
So the storytelling began, with dedicated, hardworking entrepreneurs sharing their successes and challenges with one another and with guests from Colorado Companies to Watch, the governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Region 10 and Delta County Economic Development.
Edmondson shared the evening with several other local businesses that highlight the Valley’s steady transformation from a traditional ranching/hay/fruit and coal mining valley to an organic mecca with a growing arts community that is steadily moving towards a cross between an eclectic resort area and a laid back cowtownish place with a great climate. The other speakers, owners of businesses that demonstrated different aspects of local economic change, were: Steve Ela – Ela Family Farms, Beth Delehaunty – Elizabethan, Shawn Larson – hard cider at Big B’s Juices, Hard Ciders and Delicious Orchards, Merrily Talbot – Savvy (text message counseling and support) and Placebos (mints with inspirational message), Amy Deluca and Chelsea Bookout of Cirque Cycle and Remedy, Brett Helleckson – Stone Cottage Cellars, and Don Lareau of Zephyros Farm and Garden (flowers and food) and Studio Z (flower arrangements).
After everyone had talked for five to ten minutes the attendees were ushered upstairs to the balcony area where wine, beer and appetizers awaited. And casual chat. Then after tables with white linen, real silverware and glassware had been installed in place of the seating everyone as ushered back down, a delicious locally-sourced buffet dinner, catered by the Delicious Orchards café, was served that included many bottles of local wine.
The Valley is definitely transitioning and Shadescapes is part of the lower Valley/ Hotchkiss part of the valley-wide trend.
The North Fork Merchant Herald, November 2017 (Vol. 20, No. 11)