Aloha Medicinals – From Surf to Sagebrush

Aloha Medicinals – From Surf to Sagebrush

By the time Aloha Medicinals arrived at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2007, they had already been cornering the medicinal mushroom market for close to a decade. Originally founded in Maui, Hawaii, in 1999 by a group of scientists and health care experts interested in growing Reishi, Cordyceps, and other medicinally important mushroom species, Aloha Medicinals sole focus lied in producing a high-quality product. They were rewarded with high demand, and within three years Aloha moved into a new facility in Santa Cruz, California.

This would turn out to be quite a fortuitous pit-stop for the young company, as the new Santa Cruz facility was once the research laboratory of mushroom pioneer Dr. Benjamin Stoller. When Aloha Medicinals moved in, not only did they gain a fully qualified staff and manufacturing equipment, but they also acquired Dr. Stoller’s original research notes. This extensive research material provided a roadmap to breakthrough patents, and a few years later Aloha Medicinals found themselves seated atop the medicinal mushroom industry. With newly increased demand, and Dr. Stoller’s notes in hand, Aloha once again picked up and relocated – this time to Carson City.

Sitting at an elevation of 5,000 ft., the air pressure and climate of Carson City proved to be ideal for cultivating the world’s most potent medicinal mushroom species. In fact, Aloha Medicinals have the world’s largest privately owned collection of medicinal mushroom species, with more than 1,000 unique specimens in their culture bank. This huge amount of product allows Aloha to supply ingredients to over 700 different companies in more than 60 countries, leading to their recognition as the “2008 Exporter of the Year” by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Not only did Carson City present a perfect climate for the production of medicinal mushrooms, it also enabled Aloha Medicinals to hire the quality employees they needed. While they had retained a highly-trained staff of Mycologists, Microbiologists and Health Care Professionals, “the workforce was a large issue in California and we found the quality of employees to be excellent in the Reno/Carson City market,” said Aloha Medicinals’ eCommerce Manager Derek Rush. The move to Nevada has been great for the company in general, as continued growth has led to increased recognition in the health foods industry. “We continue to see the use of our mushroom powders in functional food and meal replacement shake category,” said Rush of the most exciting development in Aloha’s business.

Aloha Medicinals has been taking over the world, and they have no plans to slow down anytime soon. Within five years, they plan to “expand our business and bring more of our botanical product production to the Nevada location,” said Rush. With a proven product, a world-class team, and a Silver State to call “home”, Derek Rush says success really comes down to just one thing: “Have passion for your business and the results will follow.”

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Kimmie Candy – The Taste of Sweet Success

Kimmie Candy – The Taste of Sweet Success

Joe Dutra’s transition from third-generation Sacramento farmer to international candy tycoon might seem like a long-shot at first glance, but once you get to know him, it seems like a logical course of events. “It started out as a single business deal buying some candy that was stuck in an Oakland port,” Dutra says of his humble beginnings, “I purchased 40,000lbs… and a friend of mine was going to sell them for me.” But when that friend couldn’t hold up his end of the deal, Dutra began reading every book about the candy industry that he could find, and decided to start his own company. “I learned that the candy industry was recession proof, grew every year, had good morals, and there were lots of family-run businesses. I thought it was a great legacy to leave my children.”

That first purchase of 40,000lbs of candy coated, chocolate-covered sunflower kernels was the inspiration for Kimmie Candy’s now famous Sunburst Candy, and in just three short years, they had won the prestigious “Product of the Year” award at the annual Candy Grammys for their equally famous ChocoRocks. With the goal of creating more American jobs, Dutra relocated the business to Reno in 2005, and within a few years their state-of-the-art production facility was fully operational. International expansion didn’t take long after that, with distribution to Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, South America, and the Middle East.

While Kimmie Candy’s rise to the top might seem like a magical straight-shot, Dutra is quick to talk about challenges the company has faced. “Over the years we made lots of mistakes, like hiring the wrong people for our culture or developing product lines that were difficult to market,” he says of Kimmie Candy’s past struggles. “As an entrepreneur, you have lots of amazing ideas, and you fantasize about all the potential and glory in starting a business. But after a while, it just gets down to good business practices.” Those good business practices have led to continual growth, with Kimmie Candy quadrupling its number of employees over the last 10 years.

After moving operations to Nevada almost 15 years ago, Kimmie Candy joined statewide marketing cooperative Made in Nevada to be “a part of the Nevada community and its growing economy”, and, in that regard, they continue to be a leader. In 2016, Kimmie Candy was selected to represent Nevada at the first ever ‘Made in America Day’ at the White House, something that Dutra views as their biggest success. “Being able to meet the President of the United States, have him eat Nevada made candy and be able to spend the whole day in the White House was amazing,“ said Dutra, “Everything we had done before that led up to us being chosen to represent our state.”

Kimmie Candy has no plans to roll back their candy takeover. They’re currently developing a new “M&M type product” which will be infused with supplements and nutritional enhancements, as well as CBD – “as it becomes legal to use in food.” In five years, Dutra hopes to have a new, state-of-the-art, 100,000 square-foot manufacturing plant right here in the Silver State to expand Kimmie’s national sales. Whatever the future holds for Kimmie Candy, it’s guaranteed to be sweet.

Visit to get some of this chocolatey goodness into your life!

Alpen Sierra Coffee – “Maintain high standards – always”

Alpen Sierra Coffee – “Maintain high standards – always”

Before the major coffee companies began popping up on every corner, there were young, adventurous travelers scouring the globe for the newest flavor, a more unique aroma, and the next great coffee bean. One of those young adventurers was Christian Waskiewicz, who began a year-long, trans-European excursion while finishing his college degree in the late 1980s. While trekking through the Austrian Alps, Waskiewicz had a complete vision of his future company and spent the next year visiting coffeehouses throughout Vienna, Hamburg, Stockholm and Paris, learning the intricacies and techniques of the world’s best coffee producers.

Upon returning to the U.S., Waskiewicz founded Alpen Sierra Coffee in South Lake Tahoe in 1991. But after struggling with an influx of corporate competition and a sagging economy, he decided to relocate to Minden, NV. “Having the flexibility to constantly adapt to changes means making tough decisions when the current direction is not working. [That’s the] key to not only surviving, but thriving,” said Waskiewicz. Paying attention to market factors and business trends has allowed Waskiewicz to build a business that has thrived for nearly 30 years.

Pairing business management adaptability with a commitment to quality – in products and processes – has solidified Alpen Sierra’s reputation as a trusted partner for customers and producers. For Waskiewicz, this commitment to quality is not just about pouring a good cup of coffee, it’s about producing a quality end product while also maintaining sustainable and responsible business practices. Since inception, Alpen Sierra has been an early adopter of green technologies and pursued a sustainability certifications from programs including Fair Trade, The Rainforest Alliance, and the Café Femenino Program. Delivering delicious coffee through responsible business practices is what Waskiewicz calls “true quality” and something he works every day to maintain and advance. “Alpen Sierra practices wholehearted sustainability in all facets of its business,” Waskiewicz said, “[Our] reputation for unwavering quality, not only with local customers, but globally with coffee producers, has contributed to the company’s 28 successful years in business.”

Alpen Sierra’s rise has been deliberate and calculated, but hasn’t been obstacle free. The move from South Lake Tahoe to Minden didn’t solve every problem, as seasonal business fluctuation, staffing challenges, and large corporate competitors keep the Alpen Sierra team continually working smarter and harder. Joining statewide marketing cooperative Made in Nevada is one way they’ve expanded their brand awareness and connected with a broad range of Nevada businesses in similar situations. With a goal to expand market penetration deeper into the state and surrounding region, they recognize Made in Nevada has “helped open up markets and new clients, identified Alpen Sierra as a local producer, and added value to the brand.”

From college-backpacker to “Coffee Master”, Christian Waskiewicz is proof that hard work and consistency can lead to great things. His one piece of advice for young entrepreneurs: “maintain high standards – always. That means plan smart, work hard and be fair, honest, respectful, and conduct yourself with the utmost integrity.”

Hunt for your new favorite bean with an Alpen Sierra “Taste of Tahoe” subscription. Or take your coffee anywhere with their new “Pour and Explore” product line – all you need is your favorite cup and some hot water! Find out more at

FISHER SPACE PEN – Made in Nevada, Out of This World

FISHER SPACE PEN – Made in Nevada, Out of This World

50 years ago this month, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon. Their 2 hour and 36 minute moonwalk was made possible due to thousands of hours of preparation and training by multiple teams of people – and upheld President Kennedy’s 1961 pledge to land a man on the Moon before the decade was out.

One of the men who contributed to this incredible achievement was Paul Fisher, founder of Fisher Pen Company. When he started the company in 1948, he didn’t know he would be part of one of the most memorable moments of the 20th century or that he would transform ink pen manufacturing forever. But after the Apollo 1 tragedy, Fisher realized that future astronauts would need a safe and functional writing instrument in the harsh environment of space. He began experimenting right away, and soon the Fisher Space Pen was born.

Used on all manned space flights (US and Russian) since Apollo 7, Fisher Space Pen has become legendary for its reliability, durability, and functionality. It was the first product sold from space (on QVC), featured on the Discovery Channel’s ‘How It’s Made’ series, and even made an appearance on a famous episode of ‘Seinfeld’. And despite its fame around the world (and beyond), the Fisher Space Pen is most lauded in its hometown of Boulder City, NV.

Nevada has always been a business-friendly state, and when Fisher Space Pen moved from Van Nuys, CA, to Boulder City in 1976, it only took four years for Paul Fisher to be recognized as Nevada’s “Small Business Person of the Year”. Their Silver State ties run deep, and Matt Fisher, VP of Sales and Paul Fisher’s grandson, is most proud of this fact: “To continue my grandfather’s legacy in my home state [of Nevada] is truly an honor.”

With approximately 65 employees, the feeling of a small business keeps Fisher Space Pen reaching for the stars – or more realistically – for Mars. “We’re still a few more years from reaching [Mars] so I’d like to see our Astronauts, once again, take us to the Moon,” said Fisher. Fisher Space Pen will be representing Nevada at the White House Made in America Showcase on July 15th.

Fisher Space Pen has been a long-time member and supporter of Made in Nevada, and credits the statewide marketing-cooperative with introducing new dealers to the Fisher brand. Taking advantage of every opportunity is how Fisher Space Pen has grown into the massive brand it is today. When asked what advice Matt Fisher has for upcoming Nevada entrepreneurs, he says simply “work hard, continue educating yourself, and never take any opportunity for granted.”

Visit to get your hands on their Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Pen. Not only is each pen is designed to handle the rigors of space flight, but each contains a REAL piece of the Apollo 11 spacecraft!


Polar Shades – Made in the Nevada shade

Polar Shades – Made in the Nevada shade

With 300 sunny days a year, Las Vegas knows a thing or two about getting out of the heat. That’s where Steve Mevius, founder of Polar Shades and Las Vegas native, found himself in 1994 when he began building and installing solar-protective window screens for his friends and family in the area. Through hard work and determination over 25 years, what started as a hobby for Mevius has turned into a nationwide phenomenon.

Every entrepreneur begins with an idea and a little free time, and Mevius took full advantage of both. Working 40 or more hours a week as a Customer Service Manager in the early years, by the year 2000 he and his father had leased their first warehouse, and Polar Shades, Inc. was born. “We both didn’t take a paycheck until 2004, choosing to reinvest every single penny we could on material, equipment, and employees,” says Mevius, “The most valuable entrepreneurial lesson for me was to create relationships with our customer through honesty, integrity, and never lowering our values for a project.”  This dedication to craft and customer helped Polar Shades stand out from the crowd, and soon they had contracts in New York, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, California, and other states around the nation, and now manufacture over 85,000 shades every year in their new, 50,000 sq. foot state-of-the-art facility in Las Vegas, NV.

However, Polar Shades’ rise hasn’t been obstacle free. They’ve often been overlooked by the huge hospitality industry in their own city. “The only casino owner that gave us a chance was Mr. Sheldon Adelson, in which we supplied our products for the Venetian and Palazzo, ahead of schedule,” says Mevius, “We consistently exceed the standards of our industry yet struggle with the Las Vegas hospitality business.” However, the Las Vegan is proud of the fact his product is made in Nevada, and believes more should be done to promote local business. “It starts with [the government] promoting Nevada businesses to Nevada businesses. [We] can’t stand to see similar products to our coming in from Mexico to the Las Vegas Strip properties. It instills pride in our Polar Shades team to see our shades in various resorts, golf courses, actors and actresses houses, and knowing that we are made in Vegas.”

Polar Shades has grown from one man with an idea into a flourishing business making a real splash in the industry, and this is what continues to drive Mevius. “Taking a backyard hobby into a multi-million dollar business with 60+ employees through determination and drive is definitely our biggest success.” And they have no plans to stop any time soon. In five years, Mevius hopes to “double our size and revenue and have our product in every single hotel in Nevada.” And while that may seem like a lofty goal, just look at how far they’ve come already. As a finally piece of advice to young entrepreneurs everywhere, Mevius said simply, “Believe in your dreams, and through hard work, honesty, and integrity, the ‘American Dream’ can be your reality.”

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Melba & Hazel – Premium Homemade Dog Treats

Melba & Hazel – Premium Homemade Dog Treats

Anyone who has ever owned a pet understands the frustration of trying to find a healthy dog treat that your fur-baby will love. Throw allergy considerations and dietary restrictions on top of that, and it can seem next to impossible to give your pup a treat that checks all your boxes. That was the dilemma Joel White found himself in with his dog, Melba, who continued to have severe allergic reactions to ingredients common to most dog foods and treats. Joel decided to take matters into his own hands and (after consulting with a vet) began to develop his own dog treats, gaining rave reviews from his friends who encouraged him to begin producing treats for them – and Melba and Hazel was born.

The path of an entrepreneur is never clear or certain, but taken one step at a time a small idea can grow into massive success. After Melba & Hazel developed their four mainstay products (100% Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast; 100% Tri-Tip Pork Sirloin; 100% Lean Ground Turkey; 100% Skinless, Freshwater Tilapia) they began testing their products at local farmers’ markets and community events. “Once we’re able to have a dog taste our treats, we are confident in building a solid customer base,” says Joel.

But sustained growth still seemed to elude the burgeoning company. Based in Incline Village, NV, Melba & Hazel had difficulty drawing foot traffic to a physical location and had to work hard to establish a brand and marketing techniques that would draw in business. With a little elbow-grease, Melba & Hazel has developed “a uniformly positively reputation for having a quality product” and have expanded their online-customer base into 25 states.

“Envision what you want your business to be, then outline the steps necessary to opening that business,” says Joel, “it will be a learning process, and each step that you can anticipate will make things easier and allow you to avoid surprises and/or missteps along the way. It’s a big leap from doing something as a hobby to having a sustainable and rewarding business.”

While building a marketing strategy and creating a customer-base are key to small business success, it takes connections and community to really establish a brand. That’s where Made in Nevada came in to connect, promote, and support Melba & Hazel in-state and beyond. “We joined Made in Nevada because we wish to build upon the sense of community that has allowed us to share ideas and develop relationships,” says Joel. Legislative Day, Showcase Nevada, and BizBash networking events are all designed for Made in Nevada members to connect with customers, potential business partners, and state lawmakers – growing the Nevada business community into a web of passionate and supportive entrepreneurs!

Growing a network means increased visibility, and Melba & Hazel are taking full advantage of every opportunity. This year, you can find them at Wyld Market events in the Reno area, the Carson Farmer’s Market, Truckee Thursdays Street Festival, Ski Run Farmers’ Market and the Austin Pet Expo! And this is only the start for the pet food company. “Our goal is to have a viable and sustainable business extending throughout the United States, online and through more physical locations,” says Joel, “We draw immense satisfaction in being recognized as having quality products that all dogs love.”

To find out where you can get your hands on quality food that your doggy will love, visit