Biz Buzz, Feb. 24, 2013

Atlasta Solar Center had eyeballed a plot of land on South Seventh Street essentially since the city of Grand Junction completed construction of Riverside Parkway in 2008, giving motorists a new east-west bypass to get around town.

The company that bills itself as the oldest operating solar store in Colorado finally made the move last month, relocating from 2923 North Ave., No. 8A, to 1111 S. Seventh St., which is at the northwest corner of Seventh and Riverside Parkway. Atlasta has a lease on the roughly one-acre property with an option to buy. It has been joined at the location by Energywise Companies, a firm that performs residential and commercial energy audits, among other services.

“We just felt like we wanted a little higher profile, and we wanted to be downtown,” said Darin Carei, who owns Atlasta Solar with Lou Villaire and Andy Whipple.

Carei noted Atlasta’s close proximity to the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and the under-construction Edgewater Brewery as a benefit and said together the entities are helping transform the look of south downtown.

“It’s pretty industrial right now,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it being more mixed-use.”

In addition to gaining about 1,400 square feet of indoor showroom space, the new location gives Atlasta some outdoor storage space. The company retrofitted the building with solar photovoltaic and thermal systems to heat and power it, giving customers a first-hand demonstration of how solar energy works. Atlasta couldn’t do that at its former location.

Increased demand for its products and services has led Atlasta to add eight employees since July, giving it a total staff of 14, Carei said.

■  Tracy Brinkmann looks around the Grand Valley and constantly sees fundraisers being organized, festival-goers flocking to parks and downtown streets and runners lacing up their shoes for a good cause.

She figures a few of those groups could use her expertise.

Last month, Brinkmann opened a local branch of Plan Ahead Events, a full-service meeting and event management company. The international firm operates in more than 100 locations in nine countries.

Brinkmann, a Grand Junction resident for the past five years, spent 26 years working in the insurance industry, planning and executing regional incentive trips, sales meetings and conferences. She sees an opportunity to do the same here in the valley.

“There are always a lot of things going on in this area,” Brinkmann said. “I thought it would be a good area to step in and help folks coordinate events and maximize their return on investment.”

She said she can put together any size event for any organization, whether it’s a business, nonprofit, trade group or sports association.

Brinkmann currently runs Plan Ahead Events-Western Colorado out of her home, but she anticipates eventually moving into an office and hiring staff as needed. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or 888-203-7104.

■  Mary Lou Wilson thought it would be great to work from home as one of the branch operators of Vivax Pro Painting. It’s convenient, and it would save the company some overhead costs.

“What I found out real quickly is it isn’t all that great,” Wilson said.

So Wilson and Bob Owen, who manage the Grand Junction branch of the residential painting contractor, opened a 700-square-foot office at 917 Main St. at the beginning of the month.

Vivax, which is headquartered in Denver and owned by Owen’s two children, Jeremiah Owen and Jessica Klein, expanded to the Western Slope in 2010. The local branch employs roughly 20 workers as office staff and painting subcontractors.

Wilson, a former president of the Fruita Chamber of Commerce, said the commercial office offers a central location, increases the business’ credibility and professional look and makes clients feel more comfortable.

She said Vivax primarily focuses on residential exterior projects.

“We’re a customer service-based company that just happens to paint houses really well,” she said.

Vivax’s office hours are roughly 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., although Wilson noted that between March and November — typically the company’s busiest time — employees are in the office seven days a week.

■ One of Grand Junction’s Edward Jones’ offices has found a new home.

The branch of the financial planning firm operated by Ryan Mizushima recently moved from the Bank of the West building, 2452 Patterson Road, to 517 N. First St. near the intersection of First Street and Grand Avenue.

The First Street building, formerly the home of GJ Urgent Care, had been unoccupied since 2009.

Do you know about an area business opening, closing, moving or changing? Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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