What is Black Dog Expeditions?
is (was) Black Dog Expeditions?
Black Dog Expeditions Inc. was a guide service I formed in
Florida in 1999 and ran for one year. It is no longer operating.
The business was a victim of it's own success. I closed it as
there was too much wasted time traveling on the road to make
the business sufficiently profitable. I needed to maintain another
job to produce regular steady income and pay my bills. I learned
a lot in that one year.
Why did you start a guide service from Florida?
Starting a guide service was not an easy decision. I did it
out of a sense of responsibility to the people I was taking
climbing. I got into climbing through an Introduction to Rock
Climbing Class at our local Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville,
Florida. I became good friends with the instructor and was invited
to help him teach the class. Over the years we taught hundreds
of people the basics of climbing. Many of these folks went on
to make trips with us and get their first taste of real rock.
In 1997 I became the principal instructor for the class.
By this time I was taking a lot of people climbing on both
group top roping trips and multi-pitch routes. I was getting
paid to teach climbing, and was taking some of these students
on their first climbing trips. I recognized I was in a gray
area between recreational climbing and professional guiding.
At this point I felt the responsible thing to do was to get
trained to be sure what I was passing on was good advice. I
completed an AMGA Top-rope
Instructor Course in 1998. I was pleased to find my teaching
was sound, and learned much about the world of professional
guiding. It helped me recognize I was frequently crossing the
line and exposing myself to potential liabilities. I formed
Black Dog Expeditions
Inc. Guide Service in 1999.
What is involved in running a guide service?
There a many ways to run a guide service. There are some fly-by-night
operations that will take you climbing. My belief was it should
be done professionally.
First I formed a Florida Corporation to separate the business
from me personally. This in essence draws a line saying when
I am and am not guiding. I found business partners who invested
in the business and would help me guide trips when needed. Training
involved getting everyone medically certified at least to CPR
/ Advanced First Aid and up to Wilderness First responder for
the primary guides. Next I secured insurance through the Worldwide
Outfitters and Guide Association. I then applied and obtained
permits for the areas in which I wanted to guide including the
Pisgah and Chattahoochee National Forests. All new equipment
was purchased for the exclusive use of the business. I built
relationships with local retailers to help find clients. There
was a good deal of paperwork during the applications processes,
development of business policies and procedures, establishing
a record system, and all the things that make a business run.
Day to day there were additional records to keep, bills to pay,
and expenditures for a myriad of things. It kept me quite busy.
So why did you close Black Dog Expeditions?
At the end-of- the- year annual shareholder meeting we reviewed
the books and records. Though we ran enough trips, and the projections
showed the business to be viable, the cost / effort ratio was
just too high. The time related to the distance commuting to
the mountains from Florida was too much to overcome. We dissolved
the corporation in 2000.
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