Towering enterprise: Couple turn feed mill into adventure center

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Joe White remembers playing at Mesa Feed when his father operated the Grand Junction business, jumping on pallets stacked high with sacks of feed or staging a game of roller hockey on concrete floors. “To me, it was a big playground.”

Now that White and his wife, Mita, own the sprawling facility on South Seventh Street, they’re building a playground of a far different sort. Trampolines and foam pits will provide a place to bounce, practice flips and enjoy a high-flying game of dodge ball. Obstacle courses will offer workouts that are as enjoyable as they are challenging. And climbing walls extending up the inside and outside of 85-foot tall silos will test those who dare to scale such heights.

In the process, a couple that enjoys adventures has embarked on an entrepreneurial one in launching a business the Whites have branded Get Air at the Silo.

The adventure for the Whites and their customers begins in earnest with a grand opening celebration scheduled to start April 25.

A trampoline park covering more than 4,400 square feet of space is the first attraction installed at Get Air at the Silo. In addition to the main trampoline court, the park includes a separate trampoline installed beneath a basketball backboard and hoop so people can practice their slam dunks. Other trampolines covered with foam blocks offer soft landings for people practicing flips and twists. Flat-screen televisions mounted on the walls display instant replays. Yet another trampoline serves as a dodge ball court.

Trampoline parks have become popular attractions in larger cities, Joe White says. In fact, such parks are often destinations for families and youth groups, he says.

Grand Junction constitutes a smaller market for a trampoline park, but one White believes offers a good opportunity given the city serves as a regional hub in attracting shoppers and visitors from Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. “We think we can be successful in this market.”

Along with the opportunity to bounce around just for the fun of it, a trampoline park offers  a venue for aerobic workouts that burn more calories will inflicting less impact on joints as well as a place for everyone from cheerleaders to gymnasts to skiers to safely practice acrobatics, he says.

White expects the dodge ball court to become a popular feature as well not only for children, but also adults who want to compete in fun and social events.

Along with the trampoline park, the Whites hope to install several other attractions at their facility. Three obstacle courses are planned, posing easy, medium and difficult challenges to complete. Various obstacles will require jumping, balancing and climbing, White says. The attraction will be similar to the obstacle courses featured on the television show “American Ninja Warrior,” he adds.

The courses might take only two to three minutes to complete, but will present a physical and mental challenge, he says. “It’s a tremendous workout.”

The facility will feature yet another attraction in climbing walls installed inside and outside the 85-foot-tall silos. A separate “bouldering” area installed above mats will offer a climbing experience without the need for ropes and belays.

The Whites expect their facility to attract young children, and they’ll offer birthday parties there complete with food from Junction Square Pizza. But the Whites also plan to cater to teen-agers and adults. The facility will remain open late on  Friday and Saturday nights to accommodate high school and college students.

In a separate area of the facility, Mita White already has opened Better Bodies at the Silo, a fitness center offering individual and group Pilates instruction. Mita White completed the Polestar comprehensive training program for Pilates instructors.

The Whites expect the location to work out well with its close proximity to downtown and the riverfront and in an area that’s likely to attract additional development. “We’re in the up and coming part of town,” Joe White says.

With their new business, life has come full circle for the Whites. The couple grew up in the Grand Valley and attended Fruita Monument High School. Joe White subsequently attended the Colorado School of Mines and worked as a mining engineer in Australia, Chile and South Africa as well as Arizona and New Mexico.

While the couple enjoyed traveling and living abroad, they also wanted to return to the Grand Valley to raise their three children. Joe White says that opportunity arose when a mine where was working closed and he was offered a severance package.

Life has come full circle in another way, Joe White says, in that his father operated the same facility when it was a mill that manufactured and sold livestock feeds. The facility later was used to produce fish food for aquacultural operations.

Joe White is back to playing at the facility, too, although in a far different way. Meanwhile, the Whites are working hard to turn play into profits.

 

Get Air at the Silo is located at 715 S. Seventh St. in Grand Junction. For more information, log on to www.getairsilo.com.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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