There was a big win recently in Bayfield, but we are not talking about football.
Kudos to the Wolverines, of course, for their 2A state title, but the less publicized win came just south of Wolverine Country Stadium, where Tailwind Nutrition learned the company has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Tailwind was one of 15 Colorado companies to receive grant funding, chosen by the Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program, which has awarded more than $40 million since 2013 to promising industries in the state. Tailwind was one of 80 applicants statewide, and their products, business plans and potential benefits to the state were thoroughly examined as part of the grant process.
The examiners could not have chosen a better recipient. Tailwind began as an experiment in Jeff and Jenny Vierling's kitchen as Jeff searched for a way to fuel his body during endurance athletic events - like the Leadville 100 - that didn't result in stomach cramps and nausea. Through trial and error, and with help and feedback from friends and fellow competitors, they came up with a powdered, flavored endurance fuel mix that is dissolved into the drinking water carried by runners and cyclists. As scores of athletes have discovered, this stuff really works.
Before long, the Vierlings were filling canisters with the product, filling orders from a website and searching for a bigger place for the growing operation. At the same time, they established a tradition of including handwritten notes of thanks and encouragement with every order, a personal touch that continues today. "In fact, at our weekly company meeting, we start off with a note or picture from one of our customers," the couple says on the "Our Story" page of the Tailwind website.
Tailwind Nutrition is now located in the former Steamworks brewpub on Wolverine Drive, a large building that was vacant for too long. The business is a part of what feels like a renaissance for Bayfield's newer business district. Just north of Tailwind, the Bayfield Center Plaza, slow to fill after its construction in 2005, is nearly full of businesses including a great local bakery (Baked), a Chinese restaurant with a popular lunch buffet (Hong's Garden), Momentum Fitness gym, medical offices from both Durango's Mercy Family Medicine and Farmington's San Juan Regional Medical Center, and the Pine Valley Church of Christ.
That business hub is complemented across the street by Mexican Tile Designs, which covers its bases with loads of warehouse space, the ability to ship any size of online order and a showroom for visitors.
In fact, the block now feels like a brick and mortar demonstration of what the Office of Development and Trade boasts as a central goal of its activities: to help local businesses thrive "in a landscape that nourishes work/life synergy, (creating) a growing workforce that is happier, healthier and more encouraged because of the place they call home."
Jenny Vierling says the grant money will primarily be used to help the company take its next big step by hiring six new employees for marketing and sales. "We are excited that we received this grant and that we will be creating jobs in La Plata County," she said.
So is Bayfield. And so are we.
Talk about a tailwind!
This editorial is reprinted from the Dec. 2, 2017 edition of the Durango Herald.