Thursday, September 18, 2014
 
A Chaffee County Success Story

Like many area residents, Greg Felt originally came to the Arkansas River Valley to be a rafting guide. That was in 1985. Five years later he married co-worker, Susan Sanchez, who worked at the same rafting company. One year later, they pulled up to the bank with everything they owned, including their teepee, in the back of their pick-up truck. They actually lived in the tee-pee during the summers to save money to start their own business.

Charlie Forster, now Chairman and CEO of Collegiate Peaks Bank, recognized the soundness of their business plan, which included purchasing the Apple Grove Motel and running the Canyon Marine rafting company out of it.

The early 1990’s were the period locals later referred to as “the depression before the boom.” In spite of the poor economy, Greg says, “Charlie took a leap of faith. He took a risk, at least on paper,
with us. But he could tell we were a good risk.”

In 1993, Greg and Susan purchased a house and commercial building on property adjacent to the motel and began running the rafting company out of it. As the demand expanded for float fishing trips--a side interest of Greg’s--he teamed up with Rod Patch, who offered wade-fishing trips. In 1998, Greg once approached the bankers with an idea for a another business: guided fly fishing.

Today, ArkAnglers operates retail fly fishing shops in Salida, Buena Vista and Pueblo, and the Felts have opened a second Canyon Marine office at the Royal Gorge.

Art Gentile, President of Collegiate Peaks’ Salida Banking Center, was involved in every step of the expansion. Greg says of Art, “He’s always given us great counsel and been there for us through the
years.”

Both Charlie and Art were with another bank in Salida when they first started working with the Felts, but Greg says, “We followed the bankers because they were so great to work with.”

In 2004, Greg and Susan sold Canyon Marine but retained the building. Susan recently teamed up with her sister, Diana Sanchez Tucker, to start Home and Design, LLC, in the former Canyon Marine building. Funding for the building’s renovation came, once again, from Collegiate Peaks Bank.

We consider Greg and Susan Felt to be local success stories. They’ve gone from “homeless” raft guides living in a teepee to the owners of both ArkAnglers and Home & Design. We’re pleased that Collegiate Peaks Bank played a role in getting this young couple off to the right start.

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