Name: Brandon Pearce
Company: Black Creek Canoe Rental
Job Title: Owner
Location: Southern Mississippi
Tell me the story of Black Creek Canoe.
Black Creek Canoe has been here 41 years. We are the 3rd owners. The original owner traveled the country a lot and had seen canoe liveries all over the country and saw that our little town had a need for it and a perfect river for it. So, he decided back in 1977 to buy 30 canoes and some vans and he started Black Creek Canoe Rental. It started as canoe rental only. In the last 20 years we’ve added some kayaks as well. I’ve been a part of the business for 26 years; 10 of those years I was working with the previous owners.
How did you get your start in this industry?
This started out as a high school job for me that I just never grew out of. It just stayed in my system. After high school, college and even after I still worked part-time even though I had a professional job in the mortgage banking business. But when the previous owner was getting ready to retire I just couldn’t see anyone else with this business.
What is your favorite part of the outdoors? And what do you do for fun in the off-season?
I am definitely an outdoorsman. I try to do my own trips squeezed in where I can. I do a lot of hikes. We have a hiking trail along Black Creek that is 42 miles. In the off-season we are open by reservation only. I do little side-jobs and things. I do some trips myself, both hiking and canoe trips. I mostly stay around here in the winter. I grew up here; I know these woods. So, I do a lot of exploring myself.
What’s the most rewarding part of having a job in the outdoor industry
When you have customers that really enjoy themselves, they just get it- they’ve had a good day with the family, the kids are out- they got them away from the TV and the phones and all that, and they just enjoy themselves, you can just tell you’ve made something memorable for that family.
What’s the most frustrating part?
We have a river where alcohol is allowed; that is a double-edged sword for us. So most of our problems are related to that. Even if it’s just that they come back really late. We shut everything down at 6 pm every day. But we may have to wait sometimes ‘til 8:30 because someone had too much to drink- they either didn’t notice or they didn’t care that they were bringing it back late. So that is a down side. And dealing with the public- it can we rewarding one minute and it can be terrible the next.
Tell me about your experiences at the AO Conferences.
The biggest things we have enjoyed with it is the camaraderie, meeting the other outfitters. And just seeing that we are not alone. It’s just nice to hear their problems along with some of the good things they’ve done. And of course, the discounts on the boats. Seeing the manufacturers showing their new models of canoes, kayaks and paddleboards is good as well.
Why are you a member of AO?
A couple years ago they did the training videos through America Outdoors to show your staff. I remember one was all about smiling while you are talking to someone on the phone… When you answer with a smile the customer can feel it through the phone, so I showed that to my staff to remind them. And staying up to date with the government affairs because we are a US Forest Service permit holder.