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Exploring the Stories of Small Business: TGR Spotlight

Sage Cattabriga-Alosa has been around for much of the TGR ride. TGR Photo.

In April of 2017, Pablo Fuentes packed up his guitar, podcast recording equipment, and his beloved pup—Muddy Waggers—to embark on a cross-country road trip documenting the narrative’s of America’s small businesses along the way. In his podcast, Small Business War Stories, he recounts the narratives of entrepreneurs ranging from guitar makers, designers, and our very own Steve Jones.

We caught up with Fuentes to learn more about the project and process behind the whole undertaking.

How did you come up with the idea for the podcast, and what attracted you to TGR’s story?

PF: I’m the founder of a company called Proven, which is a company that helps small businesses. It’s one thing to say that you care about small businesses, and it’s another to actually get in your truck with your guitar and dog and drive around the country to sit down with people and listen. That was the genesis of it, I like being a storyteller and for me stories are everything. I first heard of TGR when I saw your movie Anomaly. However, what drew me to profiling the company was your similar use of Storytelling, particularly the visual storytelling aspect.

Fuentes and his faithful companion, Muddy Waggers. Dan Mitchell / Mitchell Multimedia.

What did you find most interesting in profiling TGR?

PF: I never knew the full backstory, like Jones' initial experiences up in Alaska commercial fishing in order to get the company going. I assumed there was a lot of hustle involved, but I didn’t realize to that degree. Having spent a lot of time around people in the Skiing/Snowboarding industry, it’s a rare breed to find someone who not only has tremendous passion but also the desire and dedication. Which is how they built a company that has been so successful over the past 20 years.

TGR has plugging along our merry way for over 20 years and Fuentes loved our story. TGR photo.

Do you have a background in skiing/snowboarding? Is that what attracted you?

PF: I used to live in Bend, Oregon. I would snowboard a lot out at Mt. Bachelor and later at Squaw when I lived in the Bay Area. I’m not dropping Corbet's, but I do enjoy it! I now live in Austin and it's pretty flat, so I definitely miss the mountains.

What was the most difficult part of pulling off the entire project?

PF: Just the sheer logistics of coordination, and the underestimation of having to constantly unpack and pack up your things day-to-day. Every time I unload my truck it’s at least three or four trips—the recording equipment, my clothes, my guitar, and of course my dog—it takes a toll on you. There’s a lot of interesting days, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On the set of "Further" in 2012. Teton Gravity photo.

How did you pull it all together? I heard you traveled 10,000 miles for all these profiles.

PF: Well it wasn’t 10,000 miles in one swing, there were two major tours that were three weeks each. Trip one started from Austin and went to Saginaw, Michigan—I’m a big music nerd—so I met with a lot of people involved within the industry in states like Michigan, Tennessee, Mississippi. The second tour also departed from Austin, but went west with stops in Boulder, Colorado, Bozeman, Montana, and of course Jackson, Wyoming. Through this kind of traveling though, you end up creating a really cool community across the states.

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