Roger Andrus found his professional calling early in his career, when he worked as a financial planner. He developed a strong desire to help professionals with both their business and personal finances. That led him into the commercial lending sector, and soon he was helping new business people bring their dreams to fruition.
So it seemed a natural fit when the Utah Valley Business Resource Center (BRC), opened in January, named Andrus as its first director. As he has done before, Andrus’ job is helping entrepreneurs get out of the starting blocks.
“I worked for one of the largest SBA lenders in the country for a time,” he recalls. “I looked over our portfolios and realized that the ratio of loans to franchises versus mom-and-pop businesses was radically different. Franchise loans do a lot better than those to mom-and-pops, where an average of 94 percent of them fail. With a franchise, there are built-in systems to help franchisees become successful.”
Franchises often have mentoring programs, provide primary and secondary research in the marketplace, and come with an established business plan. BRCs can help fill the gap for entrepreneurs working outside the framework of a franchise. Andrus says his passion “has always been in helping with what I call the three Ms: money, markets and mentors. Knowing how those can work together increases the chances for a business’s success.”
The BRC is Utah Valley University’s storefront for economic development. Andrus likes to think of it as a one-stop shop for resources, expertise and, perhaps most importantly, assistance that helps businesses accelerate their growth.
“We develop partnerships with manufacturers, offer procurement and technical assistance, and have the physical space at the BRC to help them incubate their business,” he says.
The center is also in the business of helping to create jobs through its Technology Commercialization Center. It supports a myriad of state economic development initiatives such as the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Utah Science Technology and Research Program and the state’s Cluster Acceleration Partnership.
Andrus also serves as executive director of the Utah Angels, a coalition of private investors who have worked since 1998 to support Utah entrepreneurs. The Utah Angels have invested over $36 million in 67 companies, including Omniture and Skullcandy. He also serves as executive director of utahTECHX.com, which provides participating companies with access to expert-driven sales and marketing mentoring.