Caravan stops in Silverthorne for a sweet celebration | SummitDaily.com

Caravan stops in Silverthorne for a sweet celebration

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

A stream of semis driving into Silverthorne brought a sweet surprise. En-route to St. Joseph, Missouri to deliver one of the largest LED scoreboards to Missouri Western State University, the convoy made a stop at the Outlets at Silverthorne to celebrate with two graduates — both local business owners with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Which Wich Superior Sandwiches.

Seth Lyons and Caleb Mackey are recipients of the Craig School of Business Franchise Program, which helped provide spaces and financing for their businesses. The two welcomed the convoy of trucks with a small celebration, featuring the school mascot and chocolate, of course.

The Franchise Program was launched by Steven Craig, owner of Craig Realty Group, developer of the Outlets at Silverthorne and 12 other shopping centers nationwide. Not only is Missouri Western State University's business school named after Craig, but he also recognizes St. Joseph as his hometown.

The competitive program offers graduates an opportunity to launch their own business by providing winners of a competition with their own retail space each year. Last year, three were awarded. In addition, the program makes a three-year commitment to support the new business owners, including financing for their initial investment.

"(Craig) had a vision to start a program where graduates became serial entrepreneurs," said Pam Klaus, director of financial programs for the Craig School of Business.

For Lyons, the program helped him open the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory of Silverthorne in 2009. He and his wife, Kelsey moved out to take on the job.

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"Kelsey and I were only two employees there for the first three months," Lyons said.

Several years later, he opened a second business with the help of the program, Which Wich Superior Sandwiches. Lyons plans to expand Which Wich with a second location opening in Summit County this summer.

Lyons then passed on the baton to Mackey, a recipient of the program two years ago, by selling him Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's Silverthorne location. The two have become close friends since moving to Summit.

"We met out here. Caleb was my banker," Lyons said. "I'm the best man at his wedding coming up."

Though both businesses are franchises, they remain under local ownership. In total, the Franchise Program has created 30 businesses in 11 states.