Shane McCool moved back to Iowa from beautiful Hawaii in 2005 when his parents proposed the idea of building a wedding chapel on their scenic family farm in Shelby, Iowa. Initially a skeptic, Shane was fully committed to the idea after he considered the farm’s location in Iowa – far enough from the city, but still only a half hour from Council Bluffs.
The chapel was named Willow Creek Glass Chapel and was built almost completely by the family themselves. In 2011, Shane and his wife, Maritza, took over the family business from his parents. The two had married in the family’s chapel on the grounds prior to taking over the business. The couple then expanded the property’s offerings and built a banquet barn to be used for receptions, making the farm more of an all-inclusive choice for weddings.
“We have put our heart and soul into this,” Shane says. “We have all been the janitor, the gardener, the bartender, the candle lighter, and more. We’ve done it all at some point.”
Full of passion for their work, the couple approached Sue Pitts, director of America’s SBDC Iowa at Iowa Western Community College (SBDC), for guidance in October of 2011. Sue was able to assist with a financial analysis, create some financial projections with them, and to make helpful suggestions in terms of marketing their business.
“Finding out the importance of search engine optimization and rebuilding our website has now become an ongoing quest of mine,” Maritza says. “Exploring the different avenues of advertising has, too!”
When the couple entered the Dream Big, Grow Here contest in October of 2012, Sue was able to mentor them through creating their presentation. One year later, the couple won the contest and the grand prize of $5,000.
“I didn’t realize all that the SBDC had to offer,” says Maritza. “I wish I had contacted them much sooner than we had!”
With their wedding chapel and banquet barn currently in business, the couple’s ultimate dream is to brew their own craft beer on site. They believe that idea combined with merchandise that could be sold online and on-site would almost immediately employ up to ten people. Events such as company parties, barn dances, and beer festivals would be more appealing on the grounds with an on-site brewery.
“We do believe that with our location and ability to expand that we have a great deal to offer,” Shane says.
For more information about this Shelby, Iowa destination wedding business, visit the Willow Creek Glass Chapel and Banquet Barn website at www.willowcreekglasschapel.com or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Willow-Creek/209799717144?fref=ts.