Success Stories





Crestmark Architectural Millworks


As Sean Olsen thinks back to 1997 when he, his brother, and their father started Crestmark Architectural Millworks, he defines the three of them as “technicians with entrepreneurial seizures.” They had all of the skills needed to design and install commercial cabinets and figured they could perform the business tasks rather easily. The business side turned out to be harder than expected, however. Looking back Sean remembers, “We didn’t have a clue about running a business. We thought we did, but you don’t know about running a business until you are the one signing the checks. We weren’t very prepared with how slow paying (subcontracting) could be; it can easily be ninety days from when your work is done and you get paid.”

The AEDC helped Crestmark with the business side by getting them the financial capital they needed to finance major projects and upgrade their infrastructure. 

With the Olsen brother’s fine craftsmanship, hard work, and a little help from AEDC, Crestmark has become a successful local company that brings money into Humboldt County and supports twenty employees.







John McClurg, Fire and Light


Arcata and recycling have always gone hand in hand. In fact, the oldest recycling center in the nation started in Arcata over 30 years ago. The early days were not without problems however, as glass was expensive to recycle because it had to be brought to San Francisco for processing. Knowing this, a host of local leaders came up with an innovative idea. They combined the artistic talents of area residents with local recycled glass and made a business out of it.

This idea turned into Fire and Light Recycled Glass Dinnerware and Giftware. Employing 20 people, Fire and Light has become a company of pride for the local area. Their environmentally friendly designer glassware now dazzles customers in 700 stores nationwide.

Current Fire and Light President, John McClurg, purchased the company in 1999 with the help of AEDC. Not only were they an important source of financial capital, but they also provided organizational and social capital that were essential to Fire and Light's success. According to McClurg, “AEDC was very supportive and encouraging… they played a pivotal role in putting parties together, providing money and moral encouragement. If it weren't for AEDC, I don't think we would have pulled it off.”




Paul Lubitz, Holly Yashi


It took confidence to secure the funding to triple the size of Holly Yashi’s 5,000 square foot building, said Paul Lubitz, Holly Yashi owner. It was because of AEDC’s SBA 504 Loan with a fixed interest rate that they were willing to take that step. Holly Yashi can now take on tasks that it couldn’t before because of lack of space. Lubitz said it allows them to buy their displays and other materials in quantity because they have the space for storage. He said their employees now have offices, and can work unencumbered. Finally, he said the additional space has allowed them to upgrade their tools and machinery.

Lubitz says he recognizes that their company touches the community by providing good jobs, utilizing local services and providing product for local retailers, affecting the economy outside of their 15,000 square foot building.

“Because of the incredible space we now have we can allow ourselves to imagine concepts and tackle projects we couldn’t dare to before. Thanks AEDC!”




Jess McGuinty, Jessicurl


Like many women with curly hair, Jessica McGuinty (Jess) was always self-conscious about it.  “Back in high school the kids were so mean,” Jess remembers. Every day was a struggle to make her hair look nice. She never imagined that her “problem” in high school was going to one day become the driving force of a successful business.

It all started one fateful day when Jess Googled “curly hair.”  To her surprise she found an entire website devoted to people with curly hair. With over 20,000 members the website was a message board with tips, tricks, and ideas about what to do with curly hair. 

Jess had always been one to be creative and concoct creations. Online she found an easy recipe to make hair gel out of flax seed. After trying the creation and seeing some success with her own hair, she posted the recipe online telling other members to make their own gel. The response to her post was wild, with requests for Jess to make the gel for other website members. Instantly, Jessicurl was born. 

In the beginning, Jess worked out of her 600 square foot apartment in Oakland.  While the product was great, the packaging was not professional looking. Jess wanted more space for less money, and she needed employees, but she wanted to be able to pay them a living wage. With her prior love of Arcata in mind, Jess decided to move up north with dreams of expanding Jessicurl.

To her surprise, Arcata was a very supportive community for entrepreneurs. Groups like the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Arcata Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) helped her in all aspects of running a business. “(AEDC). They are amazing! They are all really nice, friendly, smart, knowledgeable, and helpful. I can call and ask questions, and they are available and approachable, not intimidating.” 

Jess’s first loan through AEDC provided all the equipment for Jessicurl’s first non-household factory. Prior to this period she had to hold back on sales and marketing because her kitchen could not keep up with the demand. With AEDC’s funding and support she took Jessicurl to the next level, supplying products to those with curly hair all over the world. 

This expansion has allowed Jess to change the lives of curly hair people who were just like her all over the world. “I get emails from women of all different age groups, from 60 year old women to teenagers - about how, with Jessicurl products, they are able to regain their confidence and live full lives.”




Thomas Lindquist, Lindquist Landscapes


Thomas Lindquist has always loved to landscape. His passion comes from his grandmother’s love of plants.  “My grandmother had the most outrageous garden I had ever seen! I’ve always tried to match her, but I never have.” 

While growing up in Santa Barbra, Thomas heard that Humboldt State University (HSU) was ranked the best university location for someone interested in hunting and fishing. Upon learning this, he decided to attend HSU. Thomas studied political science and economics, but continued to work landscaping on the side. 

Rather than pursue a career in politics, Thomas decided to cultivate his love for landscaping by starting Lindquist Landscapes in 1990. “I love the independence. I would never be able to go back and work for another person or company ever again in my life. It’s harder, and you have to plan for the long run, but it’s very satisfying.”

Thomas used AEDC to consolidate a number of prior loans from different financial institutions. AEDC helped Thomas do what he loves with less paperwork and lower overall interest payments. “Paperwork is not my strong point. AEDC saved me money and time.  (And) You can’t put a price on time, but saving it is priceless.” Freeing his hands from the bureaucratic aspect of owning a business allows Tom to do what he loves.  “I wake up because I’m ready to go to work. That is where I want to go. Even if it’s raining, and it’s a concrete job and you have to go dig ditches in the rain, it doesn’t matter. I love it.” 



Jason and Joye Silva, Street, Track and Trail

Fort Bragg

Avid motorcycle riders, Jason and his wife Joye bought Street, Track & Trail three years ago, selling and repairing dirt bikes, street bikes, ATV’s and selling clothing and accessories. Jason said before he owned the business, he spent time at the store tinkering with the old business owner. When the business was available to purchase, Jason said he and his wife wanted it to supplement his income as a logging mechanic. In the three years that they have owned the business, the clientele has grown significantly, and it is now his full-time job. Joye said it was through AEDC that they were able to obtain the financial backing for their business. They were not eligible for a conventional loan or SBA loan from a bank, and Joye said they are very happy they had the opportunity to purchase the business. “It’s been very rewarding,” she said.



Carla Rowland, Sew What


Carla Rowland was born in Arcata and as a child always dreamed of owning a business within the community she held dear. After moving away she came back to her birthplace and started a business in the location of her dreams.  Putting together her love of sewing and the community she loves, Carla and a partner started Sew What, the only sewing alterations storefront in the area.  Ever since the business started AEDC has been there to help. From providing the initial start-up capital to helping refurbish and buy new sewing equipment, AEDC has been with Carla every step of the way. 

“I don’t think there would have been an alternative means (to financing).  We didn’t have the start-up money, and we probably looked too risky for the banks.  We tried other things, but the AEDC had faith and they continue to today.”

Even through today’s tough economic times, Sew What continues to grow giving Carla steady work and a place hold within the community. “I love to sew.  It’s what I want to do… (and) the community is so supportive; it is what gets me up in the morning.  If it wasn’t for AEDC this wouldn’t have been possible.” 





Tom Tellez, Wallace and Hinz Custom Bars

Blue Lake

“We take ordinary spaces and turn them into extraordinary places,” Tom Tellez says proudly about Wallace and Hinz Custom Bars. He took over the successful business in 2004, which manufactures bars, bar equipment and components to customers all over the world. 

Tom’s story is one of the American Dream.  With a love of woodworking and the outdoors, Tom worked for various parks and outdoor organizations until he decided to become a full time student at Humboldt State University. During his time at Humboldt State he took up a job in woodworking. Tellez started making $4.50 an hour as a sander and worked his way up to becoming the foreman. It was from there he started his first business venture which led to the connections for purchasing Wallace and Hinz in 2004. 

After his purchase he wanted to move the business from Arcata to Blue Lake but obtaining financial capital was difficult. AEDC helped when no other institutions were willing by offering financial capital and a supportive community. “The staff at AEDC has always been top notch.  They are friendly, supportive and patient.  They bring sanity to my world.” 

With the new location and the help of AEDC, Wallace and Hinz has remained successful through the recession. The business not only provides great steady employment but also gives back by supporting more than a dozen local organizations, keeping the money within the Humboldt area.



Bill Wing, Wing Inflatables


Bill Wing, owner of Wing Inflatables, said it started with rafting trips and rafting training for Navy Seals and Hollywood film actors. Today, Wing Inflatables manufactures original equipment and replacement sponsons for Rigid Inflatable Boats. Business has been growing steadily for its sixteen years. About eight years into their business, Wing Inflatables reached a growth point and they worked with AEDC to secure funding to create a facility with more space. They needed offices, said Wing who remembered ten employees sharing four computers. They also needed new machinery and more space to house it. They used the funding from AEDC to build the new facility and have continued to grow. They are now using both the old and new facilities to house their business and they’re looking to expand again. Wing said he would be happy to work with AEDC again.

“AEDC was the best deal in town. The folks were nice and they offered to help us out at a critical time when we needed a good deal,” he said.

How would you use a small business loan from AEDC?


Working Capital

Business Start-Up

Purchase of Commercial Property

Renovation or Construction of Commercial Property

Energy Efficiency Improvements