“It was meant to be” say new business owners

Barbara Lawlor

Chelsey and Mike Havill came to Nederland looking for a new life in the mountains and just three years later are now business owners.

That’s the way life happens to people who are open to it, and this young couple is as adventurous, energetic, hard-working and accepting of challenges as they come.

On Saturday, April 1, the Havill’s officially became the new owners of the Business Connection, Nederland’s go-to store for anything having to do with paper, pens, computers, creativity, copies and cards. Too much to name.

Nervous, excited and ready, the couple began their work week on Monday as usual. Only this time, they owned the business. Eager to tell their story, they took some time to explain what they feel is their good fortune.

Chelsey and Mike met in high school in Florida and became best friends, playing in a Ska band, Steady Goin,’ together, which is a reggae, up tempo, swing. Chelsey was on the guitar and vocals and Mike played the drums.

After high school, Chelsey studied psychology in a community college until she ended up in sales, making a good living. Mike graduated from college in sound engineering and then moved to Asheville, NC to work in a Fun Gifts Warehouse where Chelsey worked.

Although they had been friends in high school, there had always been a spark that was more than friends, more than a platonic relationship. That spark ignited in Asheville. Mike and Chelsey became a young couple starting out on life’s adventure together.

They were in their mid-20’s and decided to see what was out there. Chelsea had visited Colorado once and knew she liked it and was sick of gloomy winters, felt there were way more pros in the Rocky Mountains.

They arrived in Nederland in 2013, chosen because it was “progressive and liberal minded,” and got lucky, finding a place to live, and then a job at Business Connection. Chelsey worked in sales and customer service and Mike was hired as a graphic designer, even though it had only been a personal hobby. “I never got to pursue it as a career before now,” says Mike.

A pattern occurred. The Havills learned as they went, finding they were well-suited to the business.

Mike says, “I am a firm believer that the universe puts you where you’re s’posed to be, which is the greatest thing for us and completely unexpected. We didn’t plan to be married or own a business.”

Last September, after a couple of years of learning everything about the business and each other, Mike and Chelsey decided to get married and their dream wedding was in Las Vegas, officiated by an Elvis impersonator. That’s the kind of people they are, they say. The wedding took place in a 50’s motif diner. After the ceremony, the couple went on a tourist spree, seeing shows, dressed up in fun clothes and took lots of pictures.

During their years of working, the couple had saved money, thinking that they would buy a house. After they were married, they added their wedding gifts to their savings.

When Alice offered to sell them the business, they took stock of their future and decided to go for the business, get the house later. They both agreed they wanted something sustainable, and what could be more sustainable than an already established, successful business that they could afford.

They were in and couldn’t be happier.

“We have always been hard workers,” says Chelsey. “And we are loyal, that’s just how we are, and we have a strong work ethic.”

The Havills think of themselves as professional hippies. Their corporation is named Beyond Mountain Design, from a Phish song about the wind. Their honeymoon was a classic rock concert tour.

Now it’s time to settle down. Looking at their future they say they want the business to succeed in new ways, geared to help the individual residents and local businesses. In the next 15-20 years, they plan to offer everything that Ned needs as business supply demand changes.

Chelsea says there will be more web-based sources and new equipment. They will stay on par with technology changes.

The Havills say it was the instant rapport between Alice and them that made this all work. “She was empathetic and thoughtful and we got along from day one,” says Chelsey. “She gave me a lot of responsibility and was always encouraging me, giving me more confidence than I had in myself.”

“When I came to work on that day in September and she was already here, I thought, ‘oh no, I’m in trouble,’ and then she said she was thinking of retiring and said she wanted to sell the business to us. I lost it. She said no one has cared about the place like we do.”

As of Monday morning, the rest is history.

When customers come in and thank them for being here, the Havills feel less nervous about the venture and feel that it is a huge honor to carry on the business.

Mike is the president. Chelsey is the Chairman. Together they will, as usual, keep the doors open seven days a week.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.