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5/15/2003

Rollin' in dough

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — Combine equal parts successful business experience, healthy introspection and the values of a company that match those of a husband and wife. Mix them and wait for the good ideas to rise.

“We have always kind of talked about what it would be like to own a business together,” said Rhonda Beaupre, a co-owner of the Great Harvest Bread Co., which opens Friday at 1100 Ken Pratt Blvd., in the former home of AppleOne Employment Services. “But our backgrounds are so different — a psychotherapist, and he’s in business — I just didn’t see how the two could come together.”

The backgrounds of Rhonda and her husband, Louie, have come together in their new store, which is being partly financed by Scott Creevy, who has owned Boulder’s Great Harvest store for 20 years.

The couple knew Creevy through a mutual friend, and when they decided to step away from their former business lives and look for another opportunity, it was Creevy who suggested they look at becoming a Great Harvest franchisee.

“I love the business world — it’s a big Monopoly game with real money,” said Louie Beaupre, who has an MBA from the University of Denver. “But it’s more fun when it’s your own.”

Beaupre stepped away from a decade-long job at a commercial office furniture business when his offer to buy the company was turned down. He calls the situation “serendipitous.”

Rhonda later decided to close down her private therapy practice and join her husband full time.

Louie Beaupre said they examined several franchise opportunities, but when he took Creevy’s advice and looked up the Great Harvest Web site, he found that the company’s mission statement matched what he and his wife wanted to do with their lives.

“Be loose and have fun” and “give generously to others” were two of the company’s ideas that appealed to the couple.

“That’s pretty neat; it’s old-fashioned, too,” Louie Beaupre said.

A visit to the franchise office confirmed that the company’s philosophy was genuine. “It’s about what you’d expect in Dillon, Mont.,” said Rhonda Beaupre. “It’s very laid back, but it’s a very professional operation.”

Louie Beaupre said most of the equipment in the 1,500-square-foot store was bought from a defunct bakery in Wisconsin. The Beaupres’ neighbors were recruited to help paint the inside of the store.

Beaupre said he and his wife were able to open the store for less than $200,000, which is less than the average franchise costs, according to the company’s Web site.

“Scott’s experience, too — he told me where to spend money and what to spend it on,” Beaupre said.

As last-minute touch-ups were being made to the store’s physical layout this week, a 55-gallon drum of honey was delivered. Its price: $1,400.

“There’s a worldwide honey shortage,” Beaupre explained.

He said his business background led him to do plenty of homework before first deciding to be one of approximately 200 Great Harvest franchisees, and then deciding where to locate his store.

“When we were considering the lease and talking to some of the neighbors up here, Starbucks and Chipotle’s were reporting regular foot traffic of 1,000 customers a day, and that’s the kind of foot traffic a store like this needs,” Louie said.

Creevy said he thinks the Beaupres will enjoy working with Great Harvest, the company.

“In Great Harvest, you have to be able to make your own business decisions and seize opportunities,” said Creevy, whose Boulder store opened 20 years ago this week. “It’s almost a hybrid between being a franchise and an independent business.”

The Beaupres, meanwhile, can’t wait for Friday, the day they officially “exchange a career for a life.”

“For me, bread is not a volatile product,” Rhonda Beaupre said. “If people like good bread, they will always buy good bread. We really wanted a business that wasn’t so dependent on the economy.”

“Honestly, it’s a profitable business,” added Louie Beaupre. “There’s good solid margins in bread — there always has been, and there always will be.”

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.