Darcey Powell tells about her business Forbidden Fruit.
The Emery County Business Chamber met in their first Lunch and Learn of 2012 on Jan. 18 at the Museum of the San Rafael in Castle Dale. Chamber President Tyler Jeffs welcomed everyone to the meeting. He introduced Darcey and Gregg Powell as the local business spotlight for the luncheon. Darcey said she is known far and wide as the caramel apple lady. The idea for the business came about when they were sampling similar products that came from Las Vegas. One of her kids said, you could open this kind of business in Emery County. So Darcey thought it over for quite awhile and called everyone and got recipes for caramel. She started making caramel apples and her first public venture was at the Emery County fair. The caramel got hot and ran off the apples, but by the end of the day they were all gone, so Darcey thought, 'I'm onto something here.'
Since that first outing for the Forbidden Fruit, she has perfected her caramel apple product and added many new and different products as well. She makes caramel apples in all designs. There are snowmen, Santas, witches, Easter bunnies, every holiday finds Darcey cooking up new patterns for her famous caramel apples. She just had a request for apples that are decorated like baseballs and she's ready to give that design a try.
"In 2004, I registered my business with the state. I had just graduated from college and was teaching school in Helper. My business was growing. I had to choose between running my business and seeing how far it could take me and teaching school. I decided to focus on my business. We put an extensive amount of time and energy into developing the business. In 2007 we launched a website, I became a vendor for Associated Foods. I traveled to fairs, festivals and college events. My husband Gregg is my business partner and he retired last January and he has helped move the business forward from a cottage industry. We looked at leasing a large building and at space in malls, but the rent was so outrageous, it wasn't feasible.
"We met with Mike McCandless, Ethan Migliori and Delynn Fielding from the Business, Expansion and Retention Program. They encouraged me to move my hobby business to new heights. I applied for Fast Track funding. We built a commercial kitchen in Cleveland. Some of our vendors now include Gardner Village, Thanksgiving Point and Western Nut Company. We hired our first employee. We are open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Our store is at the former Cleveland Town Hall and Fire Station. I only live two blocks away, so any time you want something on days we aren't open just give me a call. We dip our apples fresh and slice them for our customers. We offer free gift wrapping.
"Also at our Sweet Shop we have other vendors selling their items as well. It's a unique gift shop.
"Anyone can start a business. I put in less than $100 that first year at the fair for supplies. We also sponsor fund raisers and we ship our products all over. We decided to support our locals who have supported us. If there is ever another fair scheduled on the same day as an event in Emery County, we always choose to stay home and support our local event," said Darcey.
Jeffs introduced Brock Johansen from Emery Telcom to present next. Johansen gave some background information on the company. The company was formed in 1952 as a cooperative. Mountain Bell wouldn't come down to the rural areas and give them telephone service so the local farmers decided to start their own company. The coverage area included Cleveland, Orangeville, Emery, Ferron, Clawson and Elmo. It didn't include Huntington and Green River. The business has expanded and has customers in Grand, San Juan, Carbon and as far away as Grand Junction, Provo and into Salt Lake. The company has grown into far more than a telephone company.
The company has diversified enough that they are doing well. In 2005 total revenues were $16.4 million and in 2010 revenues were up to $22.6 million.
"We try to give back to our community. We are making less money from our Co-op members and more money from outside sources. I look at Emery County as a small country. We need to export more than we import. How are we going to do that. We need to bring money from outside the area into the county. Each of us needs to buy local and we encourage our members to do that. We need to keep money here. We need to regionalize and a huge part of that is the internet. Expand your customer base and that will mean more money overall. We can use that money to put back into our communities," said Johansen.
Johansen said Emery Telcom wants to help local businesses expand their services. It wants to help businesses have a presence on the web. He sees the success of Emery County coming as each business expands and grows using our own resources here in the county. Emery Telcom has expanded its base of services, they are an internet company, cable company, phone company and a computer store. Johansen feels the computer services offered by Emery Telcom are under-utilized by locals. They have computer experts that can help your business with computer networking and phone networks, "We can be an asset to you," said Johansen.
Johansen sees that as one of the issues small businesses have to deal with is they have expertise in one area, but other aspects of business they don't have the experience like computers, accounting and other areas. Emery Telcom can give you technical advice.
Johansen talked about the two local channels they offer as part of their cable service. One of the channels focuses on tourism and is played on all the motels in Moab. It talks about all the recreation opportunities there are in the four county area that Emery Telcom services. Johansen said the hope is the channel will help push tourists up to our area from Moab.
Channel 10 is the other local channel and they are always searching for content for this channel. It broadcasts local sports, cooking show as well as public meetings and sporting events.
Johansen said they are still looking at getting into cell phones, but they haven't been able to yet. Verizon and AT&T are big customers for Emery Telcom, because after that cell phone hits a tower, it's carried on wire to Salt Lake. AT&T uses the Horn Mountain communications site and is a good customer.
Johansen said they are trying to grow and innovate as opportunities arise. He also encouraged everyone to find an idea and develop it.
When Johansen came home from school he was talking to his dad and he told him how much money the farm loses every year and how the farm had to be subsidized with money from outside employment. Johansen decided that didn't sound too good and so he helped devise a way to make money with the farm or maybe just not lose money with it. He began selling his bulls outside the area. This year they don't have a bull left. "We need to look outside our area for customers."
"What can Emery Telcom do to help you and your business. We want to make life better here. We provide circuits to all our schools. We broadcast their events," said Johansen.
Streaming video is big and they also want to get into that. Choosing our own content, when we want it, on demand is the future. Emery Telcom can provide 50 megs to every customer.
Johansen encouraged the businesses to contact Emery Telcom to see what they can do to help your business operate more efficiently. Ben Heaton is the contact person for business.