Small Business

Mark Michelsen
Valkyre Powder Coating

If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!

This week, we’re joined by Mark Michelsen of Valkyre Powder Coating. What exactly is “powder coating,” you ask? Great question! Powder coating is a coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder which is then heated to fuse into a protective layer. It is mainly used to coat metals, like aluminum extrusions, household appliances, bicycle and automobile parts. However, when you have a skilled workman, like Mark, behind the spray gun, you can powder coat so many things you can find around your own house! Before he tells us a little more about the powder coating business, let’s get to know Mark a little bit more. Mark, tell us about yourself! “I was born and raised in Virginia; I grew up actually as a Southern kid. I lived there for many years; my dad worked for NASA in Washington, DC. He was a part of all the Apollo projects, so I got to be one of the lucky kids in the seventies who got to grow up in DC and go to the Kennedy Center when it first opened. My dad would give me five bucks and send me off to spend hours at the Air and Space Museum because his headquarters was right across the street. When my dad retired, he decided he was tired of the East Coast, big city life. So, we moved, and I spent most of my life growing up in North Idaho. Growing up there, I got used to working hard; I started my fire/EMS/public service career when I was fourteen. I moved to Seattle (Washington), later on, and did six years with the Coast Guard. I got out and was with the fire department with Washington State as a structural firefighter. From there, I got offered a job in Montana and had been doing firefighting work ever since.” Cool, stuff Mark! What brought you down to the Elko area? “I was actually running the aerial firefighting base up in Twin Falls (Idaho), but my wife ended up getting a job down here in Elko; she came down. They told me they needed someone to run a base in Wells; I said yes even though it was a downgrade in pay because I got to be closer to my wife. I finished out my firefighting stuff up on March 19th of this year when I said, “I’m done” and went into retirement.”

Great; thanks for sharing with us Mark. You retired, so you could follow your passions and start a business, Valkyre. Could you tell us a little bit more about how you went from fighting fires to working in your shop all day? “I started the business on December 5th of 2016. I‘ve always wanted to do something on my own.

I’ve always been artistic and creative, and I just needed an outlet. Also, honestly, I just got tired of working for the government; I wanted to work for myself and be my own boss to where I could go the extra mile for things I couldn’t before. I took control of my own life, to do the things I wanted to do and help make a difference for the people that need it. I knew I either wanted to do drone stuff for professional photography or powder coating. Looking at the two, I realized they were both expensive to start up, but decided I liked doing powder coating a little bit more. So, I started everything with a cheap gun I got for like eighty-eight dollars and started a business out of it! I’ve learned so many things on my own through my mistakes or working on people’s projects. If I’m working on a project, and I don’t like it, I’ll strip the item down and do it again to make sure it’s done right without charging them extra for it; that’s just my own personal integrity and accountability to my customers. The biggest thing/hardest part is getting people to know that we’re here; Elko really hasn’t had someone doing powdering coating, full-time, for years!”

As someone who has worked and served all over the country, what’s it like owning a business here in the Osino/Elko area? How’s it been for you, so far? “I like it here, just for the fact that it is still a small town, but they’re slowly working to develop different businesses, amenities, and work on the infrastructure.  You’re always going to have the resistance between the old-guard and the new-guard, but as a whole, Elko is a cool freaking town, man! As far as the community support for my business goes, it’s actually been really good; once I teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce, things started becoming great. We love it here.”

Well, we’re glad you’re doing something you love in a community you love, Mark! Is there anything else you’d like the city to know about Valkyre before we let you get back to your projects? “The biggest thing I try to tell people is that we’re here for the long haul; we’re going to be here for quite a few years. We want to grow with the community. Hopefully, we’re going to be building a brand-new shop, so I’ll be able to do car frames, trailers, stairs for people’s houses etc. My wife and I have self-funded this business from day one; we’ve never taken out a loan. So, we’d like to do more; we just ask that people to grow with us; as soon as I’m able to do something, I let out people know! 

… As long as the community keeps supporting me, I’m going to keep supporting the community. We can’t make it without each other.”



Stephanie Young
Success from Home

There are many reasons why someone in today’s age may want to transition out of a traditional nine-five job and venture into the world of home-based work. Perhaps, someone may not be interested in working for a large corporation for his or her entire life. Someone may possess a true entrepreneur’s spirit which would result in them having the desire to strike out on his or her own. Perhaps someone may desire more flexibility in his or her schedule or the ability to dictate the amount of income he or she brings in every month. Moreover, someone (like AAT‘s very own Anthony Crosby) may develop a home-based business out of a deep passion for producing something they truly believe in. Whatever a person’s motivation may be, there is often a stereotype associated with the kind of person who may choose to work for themselves; this would be the young, overeager, millennial. Though many men and women in their twenties/early thirties have gone down this career path, we’re going to talk with someone today who will prove that you don’t need to be a nineties kid to find success from home.

Today, we’re joined by Stephanie Young. Stephanie, along with her husband, Larry, work from home as representatives for ACN. ACN is a worldwide multi-level marketing company which works to provide essential services such as TV and internet, home security, merchant services, and energy. However, ACN hasn’t always been Stephanie’s occupation. Let’s find out a little bit about what Stephanie did before she became an independent business owner with ACN. “I have fifteen-twenty years’ experience in the airlines; I worked for two airlines in Denver. I started on the ramps loading planes, which was hard to get into because it was a guys’ business. Because of how the airline shift schedule worked, I didn’t spend many holidays at home when my kids were little, which was extremely difficult. I was working during nine/eleven; I didn’t go home for three days. Denver was a top security airport, and we had a lot of planes piggy banked all over the ramp which we had to check every hour. Things changed dramatically after that; it was never the same. There were some very positive aspects of working for the companies. When I was with my first airline company, Larry fell off the roof of our house, while trying to save some money by painting it himself and broke his back. He was self-employed and only worked part-time, so I became our only source of income. However, I couldn’t work because he needed help at home. So, at the time, the company allowed my coworkers to give their vacation time to me, so I could stay home and help my husband; I was able to receive four months of paid time off from the other employees. Today, I don’t think any company would allow you to do that!

Eventually, I moved on, got more training, and retired with Frontier airlines (Stephanie’s second airline company) with full, lifetime benefits. The airline thing was fun for me; however, it wasn’t a big money maker. We made just over minimum wage. The upside came in from the free flight benefits; we’ve been to Europe a couple of time and all over the US. I’ve been able to take my kids on trips, my parents on trips, and we’ve not paid very much money for those.”

Stephanie, I must be honest. I’m a little jealous hearing about how you’ve been able to fly around the world for almost nothing out of your wallet! However, I’ll try and rein my envy in! So, then how did an airline worker end up living in Elko? “My husband, Larry, and I were still living in Denver. He had retired, and I was the sole income earner; we didn’t really 

know what we wanted to do. However, he got a call from a headhunter one day about a job opening here in Elko, and he took it! He was working for the company here for about a year and a half before retiring again, and we love it here! I can’t say enough good things about Elko. Elko has everything I need; it’s just a really cool town. We have a great place in Spring Creek with an uninterrupted view of the Ruby Mountains! We love it so much that we plan our vacations around what’s going on here in town! If something big is going on in Elko, we don’t leave!”

Well, we’re glad you and your husband love it here so much! Now, let’s talk about your business, ACN. I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this feature that there could be many different reasons why someone may want to start a home business. Usually, these reasons come from younger people looking to venture out on their own. What motivated you and Larry, a couple of retired individuals, to start working in this way? “ACN is a way for Larry and me to make extra, residual income without having to work eight to five. We have three kids, and two of them are diabetic and have been, practically, their whole lives; one of them we’ve almost lost twice. She spends a lot of time in the hospital and the ICU; it’s very scary, as a parent, not to be able to do anything for your kids. Also, unfortunately, the medical program in our country is not the best. Even though my kids are working, they need extra help; they can’t even afford to buy the medical products they need to stay alive.”

Gosh, that is a compelling motivation. As a parent myself, I understand the drive behind doing whatever we need to do to help our kids. I truly commend you and Larry for doing that, Stephanie. Do you enjoy what you wake up and do every day? What’s the upside of being a part of ACN? “There are a lot of upsides to ACN! It doesn’t matter where you are; you can work this business anywhere because all you have to do is be willing to talk with and get to know people. Our company works with services that people are already using, so it makes things easy on both sides.

And, every time someone signs up for ACN selective services, the company donates to feed a child in our local area as well as raises money for the Ronald McDonald House. Everyone needs food, but a person with diabetes really needs food, so this hits home and means a lot to Larry and me.”

I can tell it truly does mean a lot to you, Stephaine; thank you for your time and for sharing your inspirational story with us, today! If anyone is interested in the services ACN offers, please feel free to contact Stephanie; she would be a wonderful person to know and work with!