Local Business Receives Entrepreneurial Honors

Editor | - March 13, 2013

'The Candyman Strings & Things, were selected by the Santa Fe Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as its Success Client of the Year.'

From a The Candyman Strings & Things press release...

Rand and Cindy Cook, owners of The Candyman Strings & Things, were selected by the Santa Fe Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as its Success Client of the Year. They were nominated by SBDC Business Advisor, Deborah Collins, who provided no-cost management assistance, business resources and entrepreneurial education through the Santa Fe SBDC. The SBDCs work in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

The Candyman has been a presence in Santa Fe since 1969, serving northern New Mexico musicians. Rand Cook had been in management at the company for 19 years when the former owner decided to retire for health reasons. It was then that Rand and his wife Cindy were given the opportunity to purchase the business.

The Cooks approached the SBDC for help with their business plan and received their funding successfully from a local community bank. They also received a $25,000 EDPPlus grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas). Since then, they’ve become advocates of SBA programs.

Cindy explained, "When the opportunity to purchase The Candyman Strings & Things came along, the Santa Fe SBDC gave us invaluable advice and resources...allowing us to secure the funding needed for our business. Ms. Collins, our SBDC Advisor, has helped us the past three years with a variety of business assistance from personnel to business plan revisions, to financial health and growth planning.  We consider her an extension of our management team and part of The Candyman family and we look forward to continuing to utilize SBDC resources as our business grows and changes.”

The couple has implemented their vision for The Candyman Strings & Things to become Santa Fe's Community Music Center. To accomplish this mission, they added additional elements to the musical instrument store including a space for shoppers to hang out and have a cup of coffee with access to free WiFi, lesson studios for a private and ensemble lessons program and a band instrument rental program. Believing that it is important for youth to be exposed to making music, Rand and Cindy also implemented Rock School and Summer Rock Camp programs, created The Candyman Scholarship Fund for kids to play music with others and provide gift cards annually to music teachers at the public schools to help fund classroom supply needs.

The Candyman’s staff members are veteran musicians from the community who have been with the store for years. As experts in their own right, they provide stellar customer service. The Candyman has been acknowledged with five national awards for merchandising, their Rock School and Summer Rock Camp programs, marketing and making a positive difference in lives through music. In addition, sales have increased each year since the Cooks took ownership of The Candyman, despite the weak national economy.

On February 27th, The Candyman, along with 21 other Success Clients from New Mexico SBDCs across the state, was treated to a reception where they were recognized by Lt. Governor John Sanchez for their sacrifice and dedication to entrepreneurial excellence. The day following, the businesses were introduced to the state Senate and House during the 15th Annual New Mexico SBDC Day at the Legislature. It was a monumental day as the Senate memorialized the contributions of the NMSBDC and declared February 28th, 2013 "New Mexico Small Business Development Center Day."

In response to receiving the award, Rand Cook stated, "In New Mexico, small business owners are responsible for 77% of New Mexico's jobs, spur economic growth and are responsible for massive amounts of tax revenues. Owning and operating a business is oftentimes a thankless role so we were thrilled at the recognition and were pleased when Cabinet Secretary, Jon Barela stated during the press conference that the small businesses present and those they represent are 'economic patriots.' It's always nice to be recognized for your hard work, but it was über special to be commended as being a main component in the engine of the American economy." 

About The Candyman Strings & Things
Established in 1969 and located in its own landmark building in Santa Fe’s historic Triangle District, the facility features showrooms for acoustic guitarsdrums and percussionelectric guitarsamplifiers and pro sound, keyboards, and accessories and educational materials; as well as aband/orchestra instrument rental and sales counterteaching and ensemble studios and a coffee bar and lounge.

About Rand and Cindy Cook
Rand and his wife Cindy are both entrepreneurial spirits and have worked hard toward making The Candyman a success. Born and raised in Santa Fe, and a bass player himself, Rand really knows his market. His passion for playing led him to The Candyman where he developed the skills to manage a staff of 13 employees and 20 subcontract teachers, create sales strategies, negotiate contracts and create lasting beneficial relationships with vendors as well as the music community. Cindy comes from an entrepreneurial background where she began a home-based virtual assistance and graphic design business prior to purchasing The Candyman Strings & Things with her husband. She pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Communication at Denver University and she has sharpened her skills in social media as well as conventional marketing.

About Santa Fe Small Business Development Center
The New Mexico Small Business Development Center (NMSBDC) network was created in 1989 by the New Mexico State Legislature. For 20 years it has supported the expanding, planning, business financing, and management efforts of more than 79,000 New Mexico businesses, providing free small business consulting, affordable workshops, and business training. Their  network of experts is comprised of highly experienced, educated and dedicated staff located in 20 statewide service centers and the International Business Accelerator (IBA) on the US/Mexico border.

Since its inception, the NMSBDC has been affiliated with 17 of New Mexico's schools of higher education and partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the New Mexico State Legislature. Their statewide presence has been made possible through those partnerships in small rural communities or metropolitan centers with the resources, talent, and encouragement needed to make sound business decisions. They are a nationally accredited business program and member of Association of Small Business Development Centers. Their mission is to provide quality direct assistance, entrepreneurial education and resource links for potential and existing small businesses to strengthen the economy of New Mexico.