October 1, 2012

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What Doesn’t Kill You…

Almost anything can affect the success of a business. Economics, location ...Read More

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What Doesn’t Kill You…

Local Businesses Survive and Thrive Despite Grueling Challenges

Peri Kinder

October 1, 2012

Shine, who took over the role of CEO in January 2010 when the company came out of bankruptcy, says because the company was owned by the creditors, it needed to be aggressive in exercising financial discipline at every level. The company had to embrace corporate transparency and the kinds of systems and controls expected from a bigger, public company.

“Joel was instrumental in getting the company back to a rebuilding size, where we could focus on the strategy and go-forward plans of the company as a whole,” Evans says. “When we emerged from bankruptcy, we emerged very clean, well financed, a lean and mean homebuilding company that was ready to put all that experience to use and start building homes for people again.”

Although the country was still in a housing slump when Woodside Homes emerged from bankruptcy, the company was more tightly focused. The Foxboro project in North Salt Lake, an asset lost during the bankruptcy, was then repurchased. The company held focus groups to find out exactly what people in the area wanted for the project, and the opening weekend in May 2012 drew in hundreds of interested neighbors.

Foxboro is a new home community that includes a clubhouse, outdoor pool, hot tub, community parks, miles of trails and functional floor plans. The project was a huge investment for Woodside Homes coming out of bankruptcy, but was also a sign that the company was back in business.

“Once we assembled that team and had everything put together, my job was to stay out of the way and let people do what needed to get done,” Shine says. “This company has a long and strong history in Salt Lake and we want to get back to being one of the top builders in the market place. And I think we’ll be there very quickly.”

At the Mercy of Mother Nature
It wasn’t quite the Chevy Camaro Donnie Novelle wanted for her first car as a teenager, but the blue station wagon she received instead became the catalyst that would eventually create Park City Transportation. With her father, Dave Novelle, and two station wagons, Novelle was on her way to a seasonal job that would become her livelihood.

Nearly 40 years after that first station wagon, Novelle’s company has weathered many figurative—and literal—storms as she has navigated the ups and downs of tourism in Park City. From no snow to high fuel costs, Park City Transportation keeps moving forward.

When Novelle started her transportation service, the industry was regulated through the public services department. But when it was deregulated several decades ago, a busload of competitors moved into town.

“In the beginning, we were probably profitable four months out of the year,” Novelle says. “I worked with the phone company during the off season. Now the season lasts six or seven months with more corporate events and corporate travel happening.”

As Park City grew, more hotels were built and more tourists needed vehicles and drivers. When five-star hotels opened in the area, Novelle invested in high-end sedans, limos and other vehicles for shuttling the rich and famous. In 2000, she bought out the co-owners of Park City Transportation and became the sole owner.

But then Novelle’s biggest client, Deer Valley Lodging, took out bankruptcy in 2009 and almost tanked her business in the process.

“We had survived through many recessions and many a bad snow year up until 2009,” Novelle says. “My biggest competitor at the time was All-Report Express. We became partners in 2009. I’m so grateful because I was able to save jobs and save a legacy.”

Under the umbrella of the All-Resort Group, Park City Transportation was able to continue serving clients and now averages 80 vehicles and 120 drivers. During busy times of the year, that number grows to nearly 150 vehicles and 300 drivers.

As for fuel costs, Novelle avoided adding a fuel surcharge for as long as she could but because of a tough economy and low tourism numbers, she  had to raise rates in 2011. Better snow-making technology has increased visibility of Park City resorts so now, even when there’s a dry winter, hotels can attract skiers using man-made snow.

Novelle is used to the economic highs and lows in her line of work and knows that during profitable months she needs to stash money away for slower seasons. But she feels her partnership with the All-Resort Group will help set the stage for even better times to come.

“What this has done, it’s really made us work smarter and work harder. We just go year by year and we talk to our customers all the time. We look to them to be our crystal ball,” Novelle says. “I like the business and, even when it’s hard, it’s good. I love the employees. It’s like a family and we have responsibilities for our family.”

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