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Blaine Stuart - Travel business still thriving
Blaine Stuart - Travel business still thriving
Blaine (left), with his sister Kirsten and mother Dona Stuart. All three work in the family business.
Founder and lead guide, Angel's Gate Tours
Flagstaff, Ariz.

My wife and I have been doing outstandingly well since I started a business in May 2004. I own a tour company. This year we have seen a 10% increase in total revenues, and have been able to decrease expenses by about 8% (yes - even with record gas prices). Even though I can put up to 1,200 miles A DAY on my vehicles, the gas increase has really not affected our profitability.

We operate sightseeing tours, day hikes and overnight backpacking expeditions in Grand Canyon National Park. We have seen a noticeable increase in foreign visitation, and travelers are staying closer to home and visiting the national parks.

I do fear that the national airlines' attempts to alienate their customers may trickle down to the smaller Mom and Pop industries such as ours. It is unfortunate (and really quite baffling) that such a large industry like the airlines have completely ignored basic tenets of customer service. We have countered by increasing our level of service, and providing more than people expect.

On a personal level, we recently bought a new house in September 2007. We were able to get a good deal on a new house because the builder was scared, and we were able to sell our old house at a fair price to buyers that were trying to time the bottom of the market (they missed). All the "scary" news has caused some people to make some rash decisions, and has created some great buying and selling opportunities.

To us it has been a matter of not getting caught up in the hype of fear. We focus on just making solid financial decisions. We are currently concentrating on reducing our debt load to better our position in a strengthening economy. Things WILL continue to get better. It is only a matter of how soon.

NEXT: Jay Cullimore - Eking out credit

LAST UPDATE: Oct 04 2008 | 2:03 PM ET
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