COLORADO SPRINGS — Hundreds of cadets will graduate from the Air Force Academy on Wednesday. Meanwhile May is also military appreciation month, and many service members turn to entrepreneurship after serving in the military. It’s also true for Air Force Academy graduates in Colorado Springs.
Scott Koons graduated from the Air Force Academy 1993. In 2010, he opened the first Colorado Mountain Brewery location off of Interquest Pkwy. From the business parking lot, is a view of Falcon Stadium, where graduation will happen and one of the best seats in the house for the Thunderbirds air show.
“We’re a great place to view all the activities. It’s definitely an emotional time. We’re very proud of the cadets,” said Koons, who served in the Air Force for five years.
This week holds a special significance for Koons and other Air Force Academy graduates in town. For many veterans like him however, skills they learned in the military also help them in becoming a successful business owner.
“A lot of military folks are really good problem solvers, motivated, dedicated to see the mission get done,” said Koons. “And I think that's a lot of what happens with entrepreneurship, and starting a business.”
A study by the Small Business Administration shows veterans are 45% more likely to own a small business than others.
Scott DeThomas, also a veteran, is the owner of two businesses, Mr. Handyman and Mr. Electric of Colorado Springs. He opened the businesses in 2019 and 2020.
“From leadership, to people skills to running operations, to managing budgets. Between the training, the education, the experiences most veterans have, they really lend themselves well to small business ownership,” said DeThomas.
Dethomas is an army and air force veteran who served for more than 30 years, and his hope is that other service members will join the ranks of becoming an entrepreneur after graduation.
“I wish more veterans were educated on the joys and the opportunities to own businesses,” said DeThomas. “The ability for me to run a business while they're keeping our nation safe is critical to my success.”
DeThomas says 95% of what you need done in your house, can likely be done by a handyman like one that works for his company. And although the business is still fairly new, he says he’s gotten a lot of support so far, from the El Paso community.
“The amount of outpouring of support from the local community and nonveterans obviously makes it all that much worthwhile. My family and I were stationed here 12 to 13 years ago. There’s obviously strong veteran pride that makes it a great niche to be part of.”
As for Colorado Mountain Brewery, they also give back to the veteran and active duty military community. They have ales and IPA’s dedicated to the military and the Air Force Academy, and they pride themselves in being a home for cadets. The brewery also sponsored a cadet this year.
“It's been exciting to relive those four years through him, and know what kind of challenges and difficulties are in store, and the excitement knowing that these guys are Air Force Academy cadets for their very last day, and soon there will be a second lieutenants tomorrow and joining the Air Force,” said Koons.