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Motivated Men of Mention

A showcase of Arvada entrepreneurs and what inspires each in their work

Article by Michele W. Parnell

Photography by Rachel Audette, The Turquoise Camera

Originally published in Arvada Lifestyle

With June’s themed Men’s Issue, we are spotlighting 10 Arvada men who have a passion for what they do daily in their respective businesses and who also share a desire to connect with the community. Each offers a unique skill set that when brought together, provides a network of services and resources that enrich the lives of others.

Alfonso Aguirre, Executive Chef, Luke’s A Steak Place

Inspired by a friend who was a chef and would share stories about their experiences in the kitchen, Alfonso Aguirre set out years ago to learn a new skill, cooking for a restaurant. He found that he truly enjoyed being in the kitchen and eventually found his niche at Luke’s.

"From the start of our time bringing Luke's into our greater business and personal family, Alfonso has proven to be a key ingredient in the success of the kitchen, menu and restaurant as a whole,” said owner Jonathan Malone-McGrew. “The restaurant experience is guided and uplifted by the people within it. Alfonso and our General Manager, Keri, are shining examples of that leadership and passion."

Since 2012, Aguirre has served Luke’s patrons delicious dishes using fresh ingredients. “I really like being able to combine different ingredients and create dishes,” he said. “The ingredients are there and if you combine them correctly, you can create whatever you want.” As Luke’s Executive Chef, Aguirre cuts all the steaks by hand daily. He also whips up delicious desserts from scratch, including the restaurant’s signature Key Lime Pie.

After finding success on his journey, Aguirre encourages others to be bold, too. “If you want to try something different, don’t be afraid that you’ll do badly,” he encouraged. “You’ll get experience and as you do the new thing over and over again, you’ll get better at it.”

Dr. Dustin Haupt, Board Certified Oral Surgeon, Avos Dental Specialists

During his four years of active service in the Navy, Dr. Dustin Haupt worked in the largest U.S. military dental clinic in Great Lakes, Illinois. The clinic not only housed general dentists, but also specialists such as periodontists, endodontists, and oral surgeons. Experiencing the accessibility and efficiency of having all those services in one location inspired Haupt to found AVOS Dental Specialists, the only privately owned multi-specialty practice in the state of Colorado and the only locally owned oral surgery practice in Arvada.

“It's very convenient for us as providers to be in one location, but we are also able to provide patients with a higher level of service by having access to different specialty care in one building,” he shared. “I'm always trying to raise the bar for standard of care, especially from a patient convenience standpoint, and by having all the specialties under one roof, I think that is something we're achieving.”

As an oral surgeon, Haupt enjoys helping patients resolve different issues quickly involving a level of care unique to his skill set. “We provide a lot of different services. If a patient comes in looking for cosmetics and improving their smile because they have missing teeth, we help restore those missing teeth,” he explained. “If they come in with pain and infection, within about an hour, I can get them infection free and pain free. To be able to give something to a patient to get them out of pain so quickly is a cool niche that we have.”

Barry Jennings, Owner, Jennings AV

As a teenager, Barry Jennings enjoyed exploring various trades and learning new skills. “I educated myself in high school by taking just about every trade class that I could, including electronics,” he shared. “I was a handyman in high school as well, so I think what has helped me the most is knowing a little bit about everything.”

Over the years, his knowledge and experience converged allowing Jennings to develop an intricate understanding of how different aspects of construction work together, specifically when it comes to audio and visual technology. He uses this to equip his clients with that technology and teach them how to use it. “I like training people and seeing their fear of technology go away,” he said. “Technology is simple and it’s my job to make technology for you to use and help integrate it into your life.”

Jennings AV specializes in providing high-end audio, visual, and networking services. This encompasses security and surveillance systems, voice control with data protection, lighting, and other smart technology for homes and business spaces, including classrooms, board rooms, restaurants, and more.

In his free time, Jennings combines another passion, disc golf, with giving back to the community. He serves on the board of directors for the Mile High Disc Golf Club, a nonprofit club that raises money for the Food Bank of the Rockies each year. He also led the development and building of a local disc golf course, providing the community with a place to gather and play.

Felix Keil, President, Tesla Electric Company

While working with builders during college, Felix Keil became interested in the work he saw electricians doing on projects. As someone who enjoys working with his hands, becoming an electrician was a natural fit. As a master electrician, he founded Tesla Electric Company, named in honor of the legacy of Nikola Tesla, a pioneer in the field of electricity distribution.

“My motivation to open my own business stemmed from a desire to provide exceptional service to customers, prioritize effective communication within the business, create opportunities for others, and address the shortcomings I had observed in previous companies,” Keil shared. “Starting my own electrical business felt like a natural progression, driven by my passion for the work and a vision for a business that prioritizes both excellence and integrity.”

For Keil, the purpose behind his work goes beyond providing high-quality, innovative custom creations for clients, he also focuses on positively impacting lives. “We are dedicated to not only building our customers’ dreams but also nurturing and empowering our employees to reach their full potential,” he said. “Witnessing the growth and success of both our team members and our customers brings me a profound sense of fulfillment and purpose. It's incredibly rewarding to know that our work goes beyond simply completing projects; it’s about making a meaningful difference in people's lives, both professionally and personally.”

Jordan Kessler, Co-Owner/Real Estate Agent, The Carroll-Kessler Team

A Colorado native, Jordan Kessler spent years as a project manager in different industries but felt something was missing. He saw his wife, Katie, impacting people's lives through real estate, which prompted Kessler to make a career change. Now, he works alongside her and enjoys seeing the difference his work makes in the lives of clients.

“I love working with, and being a resource for, people. Real estate can be a lot trickier than some would imagine. There is a lot more to it than what’s at the surface and I enjoy being able to help people, especially first-time home buyers, through the process,” said Kessler. “There is also an incredible opportunity for people to build wealth through real estate, but there are so many things to take into account to avoid mistakes throughout the process that could cost a client money or generational wealth down the road.”

Working in the real estate industry allows Kessler the opportunity to spend quality time with his family and to foster connections for serving within the community. “Give where you live is our motto. And it's not just when within our geographical community, we consider our community to be people in our sphere, our Facebook friends, and people we encounter,” he shared. “For years, we've been able to help families, especially around the holidays. Anytime something comes up where we see we can help; we always reach out and see what we can do.”

Jeremiah Koval, Owner, Empowerment Labor

For Jeremiah Koval, an integral part of founding Empowerment Labor Specialists was to create opportunities for employees to learn valuable skills, work in a healthy and encouraging environment, and provide opportunities for them to succeed.

“I have worked with construction and restoration companies and have had bad experiences with quite a few employers,” he explained. “Those experiences gave me the motivation to open a company with my own core values and to do things differently with my team. We want to be more than just a place to show up and work to get a paycheck, we want to have a mission behind what we do.”

That mission includes creating opportunities to uplift and motivate one another as the team works together to take on challenging projects. Koval, who is on-site for each job, continually provides training and guidance by working alongside the team, empowering growth of employees from within the business.

For Koval, helping others naturally overflows into serving the community. He is currently in the process of forming a nonprofit organization as an outreach to those looking for a positive life change. “We have a team called Humble Savage Lifestyle. It is a fitness and wellness program geared towards helping people replace unhealthy habits and addictions with healthy habits,” he said.

“We do this by making a family, or brotherhood, atmosphere where people are supported and listened to as well as given the opportunity to work out and have adrenaline-pumping experiences that create a natural high. We work on replacing negative addictions with positive ones.”

Jon LeDuc, Founder/Owner, Duke’s Landscaping Company

An entrepreneur from a young age, Jon LeDuc opened his first lawn care business in high school, going door to door recruiting clients. After attending college and getting a degree in landscape horticulture with an emphasis in landscape design and contracting, he founded Duke’s Landscaping Company.

He and his team create custom designs then build and maintain a variety of outdoor living projects including pools, outdoor kitchens, water features, patios, and more. “Think of us as a custom builder for the exterior of the home,” he explained. “We create custom, turn-key exterior spaces for our clients. We do this by getting to know the clients as individuals, capturing their vision, and getting a sense of how they want to use the space.”

LeDuc specializes in working within budget to get clients the most value for their investment and using innovative designs to overcome obstacles and challenges. In addition to enjoying working outdoors, LeDuc also loves developing relationships with his clients.

“We have had the privilege to work on some pretty amazing projects, especially recently, with great clients who have fun and unique stories,” he said. “Getting to know people and creating a design and project for them that blows them away is the neatest experience.” LeDuc enjoys spending time with family, being outdoors, and creating and performing songs with his musical duo group, AztroGrizz.

Ted Lopez, Owner, Ted’s Express Car Wash

Equipped with a background in architecture and an entrepreneurial spirit, Ted Lopez and his wife, Lila, followed a business lead and made Lila's brainchild of a local car wash come to fruition. Building Ted’s Express Car Wash not only provides a much-desired service to the community, but it also creates an atmosphere to foster relationships within that community.

“When you live in a community, you get to know your neighbors and you might get to know somebody at a restaurant,” Lopez explained. “But what is great about owning a business in the neighborhood you live in is having the opportunity to meet more people in the larger community around you. I’m in the car wash tunnel a lot and I have been fortunate to meet a majority of our members. It's unusual for a member to come through the car wash and I don't know them. I recognize their name and I definitely recognize their car. So, it's been a lot of fun for us as a family getting to be more a part of our community.”

Lopez acknowledges that starting a business comes with challenges, but he encourages budding entrepreneurs to surround themselves with great mentors and high-quality staff members. “Finding people who are interested in your success, unselfishly, is critical to growing professionally, getting to where you think you want to be, and taking the next steps,” he said. “Most importantly, if you don't have good people, you don't have good business. We have a great staff. We've been lucky to get a good group of core people together and because of them, I think people enjoy coming through our car wash and appreciate the great personal service our staff provides.”

Kevin Poel, Co-owner, Hydrate IV Bar Westminster

Kevin Poel began his career as a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Pharmacist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “I loved that job and felt like I was very impactful on the reactive side of medicine,” he explained. “But even then, I knew about IV hydration and vitamin therapy and thought that it would be interesting to be on the more proactive side of medicine and healthcare.”

Years later, Poel and his wife, Nicole, who is a nurse, were presented with the opportunity to open their own business providing IV hydration and vitamin therapy in a way that aligned with their values and goals as healthcare professionals. The Arvada duo now enjoy the rewards of helping clients pursue wellness through Hydrate IV Bar in Westminster. 

“We get two types of people who visit us; those who are ill, with maybe dehydration or a migraine, and those who are well, such as athletes and other individuals who are health conscious in terms of long-term health and wellness,” said Poel. “In all cases, I love seeing clients’ faces when they immediately feel better, are energized, and ready to tackle the world. Seeing their faces and getting that praise, it's immediate gratification.”

For Poel, a highlight of Hydrate IV Bar is sharing the business adventure and daily work life with his wife. “Nicole is there every day, starting IVs and talking to our clients,” he shared. “She really inspired us as a couple to take our expertise and go into the community to help others achieve their health goals. We're a great team.”

  • Alfonso Aguirre, Executive Chef, Luke’s A Steak Place
  • Alfonso Aguirre, Executive Chef, Luke’s A Steak Place
  • Dr. Dustin Haupt, Board Certified Oral Surgeon, Avos Dental Specialists.
  • Dr. Dustin Haupt, Board Certified Oral Surgeon, Avos Dental Specialists.
  • Barry Jennings, Owner, Jennings AV
  • Felix Keil, President, Tesla Electric Company.
  • Felix Keil, President, Tesla Electric Company.
  • Jordan Kessler, Co-Owner/Real Estate Agent, The Carroll-Kessler Team.
  • Jordan Kessler, Co-Owner/Real Estate Agent, The Carroll-Kessler Team.
  • Jeremiah Koval, Owner, Empowerment Labor.
  • Jeremiah Koval, Owner, Empowerment Labor.
  • Jon LeDuc, Founder/Owner, Duke’s Landscaping Company.
  • Jon LeDuc, Founder/Owner, Duke’s Landscaping Company.
  • Ted Lopez, Owner, Ted’s Express Car Wash.
  • Ted Lopez, Owner, Ted’s Express Car Wash.
  • Kevin Poel, Co-owner, Hydrate IV Bar Westminster.
  • Kevin Poel, Co-owner, Hydrate IV Bar Westminster.
  • Kevin Poel, Co-owner, Hydrate IV Bar Westminster.