‘Craig was the destination’: A new business comes to Moffat County
Jacob Shirar and Ryan Hass knew they wanted to come to the mountains.
They weren’t sure exactly where they would end up, but when the pair of friends since childhood — Shirar, two years older, was Hass’s second-grade mentor when Hass was in Kindergarten when the two were kids in Iowa — decided it was time to team up and strike out on their own, Craig was the answer.
“I grew up coming to Winter Park,” said Shirar, the CEO and president of new Craig-based company Rocky Mountain Finishes. “I always wanted to be in the mountains. Winter Park doesn’t have a big population base, and we need that for what we do. So we looked. Steamboat Springs has about 10,000 year-round residents, but I can’t afford a 5,000-square-foot building in Steamboat. But Craig — Highway 40 comes through here, it’s got a population base, it’s close to Steamboat, Avon, Durango, Grand Junction, where housing is booming. Craig was the destination.”
Rocky Mountain Finishes is a pre-finishing company that the two young entrepreneurs are installing behind the Loaf and Jug across Moffat County Road 7 from Murdoch’s. Pre-finishing is a process that takes a product — siding, flooring, crown molding, trim, etcetera — and coats it prior to installation. What makes Shirar and Hass’s company special is the breadth of color choices and the speed of turnaround.
“Most people buy this from a company out of Wisconsin called Diamond Coat,” Shirar said. “They do a good job, but they’re four to six weeks out on turnaround. We turn stuff in one week or two. We’re local, quicker, it’s shipped closer, and we have way more custom colors, too.”
Shirar said the company boasts 2,000 solid colors and a handful of other stain-type finish options. They’re lean now — it’s just Shirar and Hass for the moment — but with the space they’re renovating in Craig, they hope to get up to 10 or 15 employees within about five years.
It started for Shirar when he was just 7 years old. His parents, he said, founded and own a company called Deimco Finishing Equipment, which produces the equipment that makes the business of finishing run. He started there as a kid and worked there ever since. A chance in college almost popped up for Shirar to run an acquisition his parents were considering, but it didn’t pan out, though the seed of running a company was planted.
Meanwhile, Hass was doing just about everything.
“I can talk product, sales, business,” Shirar said. “But Ryan — and he can do all that, too — he has electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic experience. He can fix anything. I’m no ape, but he’s gifted.”
As Hass grew up, he worked at all kinds of jobs, including starting a stump grinding company that he said gave him the business experience he needed to be a partner with Shirar in this venture.
“Last five years, I’ve not had less than 2 jobs until now,” Hass said. “This is the first time.”
But both men are wearing, as Hass said, an awful lot of hats at the moment with their new business.
“Books, sales, receiving, putting the product together, everything,” Shirar said. “It’s keeping us honest, that’s for sure.”
The friends and business partners moved to Craig a couple months ago, and have bought a home in town. In the interim, they’ve been working to get the building retrofitted and ready for their production processes.
“Once all the equipment gets here, I like to say it’ll be like big-kid LEGOs,” Shirar said. “Just putting the pieces together. We should be up and running (Jan.) 24, and then it’s selling and operations. We’re trying to make connections now, meet people, help them know what we offer. But with our turnaround time a week or two, that means I can’t start really selling until I know I’m up and running.”
Rocky Mountain Finishes can be found online at rockymountainfinishes.com.
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