A bit about our people...
A Formula for Success: Red Rock Archery
from Inside Archery magazine December 2009 by Mike Kallal
Jody Green was lucky to have survived. In January 1992, he was working in
a friend’s new house when the boiler exploded. Thrown 26 feet into a
concrete wall, Green suffered multiple injuries, including sever
neurological trauma. He spent the next two-and-a-half years in and out of
the hospital, endured extensive physical therapy and even underwent
acupuncture treatments while relearning how to walk, talk and get some kind
of life back.
Before the accident, Green had been an avid bowhunter.
Formerly right-handed, his dominant arm hung from his shoulder, withered and
still nearly useless when he visited Red Rock Archery in June 1994. He was
resigned to never hunting again and had only stopped by to visit the owners,
Gabe and “Sis” Lucero. Gabe persuaded him to try a low-weight compound
left-handed. The string barely moved, but it moved enough to spark hope. The
Lucero’s promptly made a gift of the bow.
Over the next several
months, Gabe re-taught Green to shoot, refusing any payment for the lessons.
That fall Jody Green tagged a muley gross scoring 180 inches. Would he
describe himself as a loyal Red Rock Archery customer? “Nothing in this
world could ever make me go anywhere else,” Green says.
thing about this anecdote is that it’s not that unusual when it comes to the
Luceros. Similar stories of generosity and expertise have circulated through
rural western Colorado archery circles for years, and word is beginning to
Grand Junction is the largest city in Colorado west of the
Continental Divide. Even so, the city’s population has only recently passed
100,000. Back in the late 1970’s, the economies of Colorado and Wyoming were
heavily influences by efforts to extract petroleum from the region’s vast
oil shale deposits. The collapse of the oil shale industry in the early
1980’s triggered nearly two decades of economic depression in the area. Most
people looking to open a small business might have studied the economic
climate and meager population of the Grand Junction area and immediately
left for more prosperous towns.
Luckily, Gabe and Sis Lucero are not
like most people.
Gabe Lucero was in Grand Junction as part of a
field crew conducting seismic analyses across the United States when he met
Sis in 1974. Originally from Lander, Wyoming, Sis was already an expert
hunter and angler at the time. Gabe and Sis were married in 1978.
The Luceros anticipated the oil shale bust and left the petroleum industry
in 1982. They opened Red Rock Archery in 1983, just a few short months after
the area’s oil shale plants closed their doors for good. It was just about
as inauspicious an environment for a new business as one could think of.
But the Luceros had a clear plan for their new archery shop, one that
put the customer first, delivered superior service and made archery both fun
and accessible. Despite the region’s economic woes, Red Rock Archery grew
steadily. In 1992, Red Rock Archery relocated from Grand Junction to a
converted warehouse in nearby Clifton, a Grand Junction suburb characterized
by an abundance of light industry. In recent years, a dramatic increase in
natural gas mining has northwestern Colorado and southwestern Wyoming
booming once again. Red Rock Archery is as busy as ever, and the Luceros are
actively considering an expansion.
Having served the community for a
quarter century, Red Rock Archery has seen a generation of the area’s
bowhunters, 3D enthusiasts and target shooters grow up at the store. Archers
in their 20’s will tell you they’ve been customers all of their lives.
The store’s atmosphere is more that of a familiar tavern than a full-service
retailer. People typically begin showing up soon after the doors open.
Walk-in traffic is dominated by regular customers, many of whom are likely
to have dropped in just to socialize. The location isn’t out of the way by
any means, but there’s little through-traffic passing by. The point is that
people regularly take the trouble to visit Red Rock Archery because they
enjoy spending time with like minds in a relaxed environment that’s become a
hub of interaction for a variety of outdoor activities.
Gabe and Sis
are equal partners in all aspects of the store’s operation. There are
several part-time staff members, but the Luceros handle most of the workload
Sis is both soft-spoken and straightforward with a clear
idea of what she wants her customers to experience at Red Rock Archery. “I
want people to have fun here,” she explains, “to feel like they’ve learned
something and gotten a good deal.”
Patrons expressing reservations
at having a woman tune their bow or check their form need only consider the
impressive wall-hangers and field photos of big game trophies Sis has taken
with her bow. They can also talk with one of the many people who have
benefited from her attention. This woman is a true bow hunter, mechanic and
Sis maintains distinctly different ways of working with
men and woman who are new to archery. “If a man enjoys himself, his ego will
likely take over for motivation.” She says. “A woman might be more timid,
not as confident of her potential. I want to make sure she understands that
with patience and practice, she can do every bit as well as any guy.”
Sis’ husband is a different sort of character altogether.
clearly has the good fortune of loving his work and the never-ending task of
helping people find satisfaction in archery. As Gabe explains, “If people
aren’t having a good time, pretty soon they’ll find something better to do.”
Gabe’s sense of humor is well known. When providing bow-repair
estimates to new customers, he frequently tells them, “Well, it should be
less than a grand.” And he’ll ask out-of-town bowhunters to bring running
shoes on hunts he’ll be guiding so they can outrun the owner of the land
where they’ll be trespassing.
What Gabe and Sis do share is the
commitment to a thoroughly consultative approach to sales and service.
“We want to take our time in talking with people and figuring out what
they’re after,” says Gabe. “If someone’s been in before, we want to know
their name and remember a little something about them. It’s important for us
to make the customer feel welcome and comfortable. That’s how we’d want to
be treated. Besides, it only takes a tiny bit of reluctance for someone to
leave their wallet in their pocket.”
Red Rock Archery runs minimal
advertising. Retail sales and pro shop service are its dominant cash
streams, and Gabe is a true master at both. There’s no doubt intelligence,
interpersonal skills and integrity are essential for long-term success in
any commercial endeavor, but the Luceros lead their staff by demonstrating
these qualities in an especially conscientious and ruthlessly consistent way
that keeps the operation friendly, as well as profitable.
Archery is our number one retail distributor. They have been for quite a
while for a couple of reasons,” says Darton Archery Director of Sales Ted
Harpham. “They carry a wide selection of our bows, and Gabe is one of the
best bow mechanics I’ve ever seen. When he puts our bow in a prospect’s
hands, we’re confident that it’s going to be a bow that suits their needs,
fits them personally and is tuned perfectly. The people at Red Rock Archery
know what they’re doing, and Gabe’s got this easygoing way about him. It’s
hard to define, but it puts peoples at ease. I think it’s a big factor in
how Red Rock Archery has been able to increase sales of Darton products
every year we’ve worked together, and the feedback we get from our retail
customers confirms this.”
Don’t get the idea Red Rock Archery is a
one-trick pony. It also ranks in the top 10 percent among dealers for a
number of other brands.
One of those brands is
Carbon Impact, and Carbon Impact’s Jennifer Szmchack echoes Harpham’s
perspective. “Red Rock Archery is a new retail distributor relationship for
us, but they jumped right into the top 10 percent of our dealers. They’re on
track to do over 1,000 dozen arrows this years. Gabe’s customer service is
simply phenomenal, and he knows what he’s selling. His wife is exactly the
More and more of Red Rock Archery’s revenue comes from beyond
the geographic boundaries of the local markets-from farther than can be
driven in a few hours. Incredibly, Red Rock Archery is building a
far-reaching client base with no marketing platform other than word of
“We had one of our bow owners call the factory with a
problem,” Harpham says. “Even though he was 600 miles from Red Rock Archery,
that’s where we sent him. He called back to say he went there, problem
solved and he’d never go anywhere else. Dealers like that are just
incredible assets to the manufacturer.”
Gabe’s reputation as a
world-class bow mechanic is well deserved, widely shared and growing. When
industry professional and bowhunters like big-game legend and
multiple-world-record holder Archie Nesbitt are either directing clients to
or sending their own hunting rigs for service and tuning at Red Rock
Archery, it says something about the quality of service. Gabe has an
exceptional eye for detail and an intuitive grasp of the most complex
archery technology. He’s as passionate about archery as the most rabid
stick-slinger (with a personal collection exceeding 300 bows of varying
design), and this enthusiasm reinforces his desire to help every client get
the best performance their tackle will provide.
“I had to hunt with
Gabe before I really appreciated why Red Rock Archery is in the top 10
percent of our retail distributors,” shares Tru-Fire CEO Steve Tentler.
“I’ve never met anybody who’d go as far to make sure you were all setup and
that you had a great hunt.”
If there’s one unique resource Red Rock
Archery leverages, it’s their proximity to large populations of huntable
animals. Ten big game species are found in Colorado, and trophy specimens of
nine have been tagged within a 150 mile radius of Red Rock Archery. Throw in
some of the most spectacular mountain and high-desert scenery in the world,
and you’ve got a great shot at drawing bowhunters from all over-people
who’ve broken this, bent that or simply want to check their sights on an
indoor range before going out on their hunt.
Many of those who visit
Red Rock Archery for a quick repair find themselves returning again whenever
possible. As Harpham explains, “The thing that’s always impressed me the
most about Gabe is his ability to take what could be a one-time encounter
and make that customer a long-term client.”
A lifelong bowhunter and
flyfisherman with 25 years of serving hunters, Gabe is well acquainted with
the booking agents, outfitters, guides and private landowners who also cater
to sportsmen. Those ties have proved to be an important part of Red Rock
Archery’s success, as well as a boon to local outfitters.
part with good money to hunt with us,” says Mike Lawson of Trophy Class
Outfitters. “They only have so many days, and they don’t want to spend two
or three of them waiting for a bow to be repaired. Half-fixed is even worse.
Red Rock Archery has always bent over backwards for us, and it’s a load off
my mind to know I can count on Gabe, Sis and their people to get it right
quickly so my client can get back to hunting. They’ve come in after hours,
before hours – basically whatever it took to get the job done. Gabe makes it
easier for me to run my business, so I send people his way as often as I
can. I don’t know how you put a value on having somebody like Red Rock
Archery to work with. I really don’t.”
Development of the local
market still gets attention. Red Rock Archery recognized the value of
promoting our sport in the educational system early in the history of the
business. The Luceros began by visiting schools and performing various
demonstrations. As their organization grew, they invested in an array of
youth equipment, and Red Rock Archery now regularly hosts groups of junior
and high school adolescents through the Grand Mesa School District’s “Life
Experiences” curriculum. The students are given a practical lecture on safe
and effective technique, then divided into teams for an informal target
shooting competition. Losers sweep the lanes.
“It’s a good feeling
to introduce young people to archery,” Gabe reflects. “Over the years, quite
a few of them have come back to the store on their own or with their
parents, bought bows and become regular shooters. Sometimes, it’s the kids
that get the parents involved.”
Red Rock Archery also supports
fraternal organizations like the Grand Mesa Bowmen. President Jim Law is
quick to laud the Luceros for their many contributions. “Gabe and Sis have
done a lot to promote archery in this community,” he says. “I honestly don’t
think it’s a business interest. They really care. They want to see our sport
grow. For last year’s winter league, our club paid nothing. Red Rock Archery
only charged the shooters for lane time. The funds were used to purchase
prized that were raffled off.”
“We ran the league competitively in
the past, but people went at it too aggressively,” Gabe explains. “We needed
to get things back on a more friendly level. Archery’s a recreational
business for us. If people aren’t enjoying themselves, we won’t be in the
business for long.”
Exceptional customer care, quality equipment
service and ensuring that archery stays enjoyable have proven to be a
formula for success at Red Rock Archery. If you’re ever in the Grand
Junction area, stop in and say “hi” to Gabe, Sis and their legion of regular
customers. Whether you take advantage of the shop’s many resources or jus
pay a friendly visit, you’re welcome at Red Rock Archery.