Success stories

Michael Karns


When you find yourself bumping your head against the ceiling, you have two options. You can either continue stooping over or break through the ceiling. Michael Karns decided the latter was the best option. After years of working for other businesses, it was time for Michael to go out on his own. He started Boundary Waters in 2011 and has seen the benefits of being his own boss.

Controlling the tempo of his own business had many pros and cons. Michael had to learn when to say “no,” what price points to give, number of staff to best output jobs, and develop policies and procedures for the growing personnel. Boundary Waters quickly outgrew its first location, a leased unit in a shopping center, and Michael was left with another choice to make. The unit next door was available to lease with an increase in rent, or purchase a building for less than current rent was.

“I own my home, but commercial real estate is a whole different animal,” says Mike. “Clearing contingencies, HVAC… It was one learning curve after another.”

Mike wanted to use equity from his rental property as a down payment for the new location. He worked out a loan through Golden Valley Bank, but was left with a small financial gap between the down payment and the loan amount. That was where Superior California Economic Development was able to step in and bridge the gap.

“SCED didn’t have their own agenda, and they were helpful throughout the entire process. They made it seem so easy.” Mike stated when asked about the borrowing process.

The business plan that started Mike’s adventure five years ago seems simple now compared to the complexities of business ownership. He advises anyone looking to start a business to take an “all in, failure is not an option” approach and to “Consider buying your own space.”

Boundary Waters can be found at the corner of Hartnell and Churn Creek Avenues in Redding.