CHEYENNE — It takes spunk to quit your jobs, move to a new community, invest your life savings in a new business and restore a historic building all at once, but Brian and Dee Bryant couldn’t be happier about how things are turning out.
Their new business, Palomino Industries, is booming. Restoration of their new location, the historic Ol’ Palomino Club, is proceeding. And they are very happy with their new community of Cheyenne.
“We love it — I knew that before we moved here, because we had been associated with the community for a year, and they don’t come any better. Everyone from the license bureau to the court house, you name it, everyone has been very, very helpful.”
But let’s back up a minute to the beginning, back in 1995, when the Bryants and a friend, Kim Kollar, decided they were ready for a change in their lives. Brian and Kim were mechanics at the Platte River Power Authority’s Rawhide Energy Station north of Wellington, Dee was a finance officer for the Poudre Valley School District, and together they dreamed of opening their own business – custom welding and fabrication, media blasting and applying spray-on urethane to cars, trucks, boats and industrial parts.
They also decided on a change of scenery.
“Brian and I had lived in Fort Collins for 16 years, but over those 16 years we outgrew it, or it outgrew us,” Dee explained. Both she and her husband had grown up in smaller communities
— he in Waseca, Minn., and she in Mason City, Iowa — and Fort Collins was simply too big for them anymore.
“There was no way we could afford to rent or buy in Fort Collins,” she said, “but Kim had lived up here and told us about this building, so we came up here to look, and we fell in love with it.”
The Bryants bought the Ol’ Palomino Club, a once-grand supper club and dance hall in a distinctive Spanish adobe-shaped building on a knoll on the South Greeley Highway just south of Cheyenne. The supper club was built in 1946 and opened in 1947 as the El Rancho Club but became the Palomino Club the following year and for 20 years was a popular supper club operated by Jack and Edna Ford. It later was a bar until it closed some 16 years ago.
“We bought the building without even looking at the ballroom,” Dee said. “We all have a very big love for the building and are interested in keeping it as original as possible.”
They have restored the ballroom to its rustic elegance of a half century ago, and it is something to behold – 40 feet by 80 feet with saddles dangling from a high, log-beamed ceiling, inlaid flagstone floors surrounding an immaculately restored oak dance floor and a panorama of the Wyoming plains, with a real palomino frolicking in a field across the highway.
The Bryants use it for their office, showroom and customer waiting area. The old bandstand at one end also doubles as Kollar’s temporary living quarters, while the south end is restored for an apartment and Palomino’s primary work areas for a business as unique as its location.
Palomino Industries does media blasting, using plastic, sand and glass to clean any hard surface of paint, rust or dirt. They also do advanced urethane spray-on protection for truck beds, trailers, mobile homes, ramps and indeed any industrial part that needs protection, strengthening or noise reduction.
The Bryants have a contract with Arma Coatings, producers of a variety of polyurethane spray coatings they believe are superior. The coating readily adheres to metal, wood, concrete and fiber glass, and the Bryants say the potential uses are endless.
They also offer custom welding, fabrication of metal parts and development of prototypes and hope to expand that service when renovation of the south end of the building is completed. In the meantime, they have leased a building next door and also do on-site work.
Restoration continues, though at a slower pace since Palomino Industries opened last Nov. 11. Having a contractor renovate the building probably would have cost in excess of $250,000, but the Bryants and Kollar are doing it for considerably less, relying on friends for help and materials and recycling everything they can.
Renovating a building and opening a business have been hard work and a learning experience, but the Bryants had help from the Wyoming Small Business Development Centers in Cheyenne and Laramie in developing their business plan and securing financing.
The Bryants had a nest egg of retirement money to invest, and they also secured loans from Key Bank and the Wyoming Industrial Development Corp. through the Small Business Development Center.
And while it has been a little unsettling to give up their “security blanket” of regular paychecks, health insurance and paid vacation, the Bryants as owners and Kollar as their sole employee until recent weeks are all “happy campers.”
“It’s real fun. It’s real rewarding to be where we’re at today,” Dee said. “We’ve been open four months, and we’re doing very well.”
Looking ahead, the Bryants see continued growth for their business. They recently added a part-time employee, in part because Brian was going on the disabled list with rotator cuff surgery, and they anticipate hiring another in the next couple of months and two others later on.
“My husband was going to be the marketing director, and I think what God is telling us is that his surgery is putting him into that position quicker than we anticipated,” Dee said. “Kim’s going to be our operations manager, and I’m the office manager. We’re all in it more than 100 percent.”