Oct 23, 2012
Since 1992, Jim Coffey has been operating Esprit Rafting. In Episode 2 of Season 2 of The Big Decision you'll see what Jim and Esprit have been through and if they'll rise to Arlene's challenges. We asked Esprit about their business, what it means to the community, the challenges involved and much more in this Q&A.
1. What do you think the greatest strength/asset of your business is?
We are highly skilled in our trade (whitewater tours and training.) Apart from our on-river excellence, our social and environmental values are something that our guests appreciate and connect with.
2. What does your business mean to the community in which it operates?
We are very connected to our communities. During the summer, we rallied over 1,000 supporters to our base camp in a region that only has 15,000 inhabitants. We are leaders in local tourism, which is vital to our region at this time, especially because of the decline of the local timber industry.
3. What does your business provide that makes it unique and valuable in the market?
We are unique in our market as we are the only local outfitter that offers tours on two river channels rather than just one. As well, we are unique as a business because we use environmental advocacy and social responsibility as ways to measure our overall success, rather than measuring solely from a financial point of view.
4. What's the most rewarding part of being an owner of this business?
We provide programs that are challenging for our guests/participants and it is very rewarding to see their accomplishments. We also do a lot of staff training. It is very rewarding to watch young people develop into amazingly skilled, personable leaders. I get a lot of satisfaction from people who compliment us on going above and beyond their expectations. They also compliment us for placing our profits and our principles in alignment.
5. What has your proudest moment been?
Being rated as the world's number one whitewater company by National Geographic. Expanding our programs to include people with disabilities. Saving the life of our student Joel Scott because we had the foresight to carry a defibrillator with us on the river (the first company in the world to do so,) as well as having the training to use it.
6. If you could change one thing your business did in the past what would it be?
We made an error in participating in a group buying website. This was not successful for us and we will not participate in similar programs again.
7. What's the hardest part of being a business owner?
As an operator I balance keeping a variety of diverse departments operating in harmony. As an owner I also need to be looking forward to what is coming up next. It is hard sometimes to have so many "balls in the air" at the same time. However, it is also dynamic and exciting.
Despite the challenges of being an entrepreneur I wouldn't want to change my career path for anything.