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PBN’s Best Workplaces: #1 in Small Business

Last night, our Hawaii office joined Pacific Business News for their annual ‘Hawaii’s Best Workplaces’ award ceremony. The food and company made it a five-star event early on, but the highlight of our night came when FareHarbor was awarded the #1 Best Workplace in the Small Business category.

best workplaces 2

The award was granted based on employee surveys and a review of office culture. Our close knit team was a natural fit, as they’re experts when it comes to balancing hard work and a good time. Hours of head-down productivity are always paired with sunset beers, ‘family’ dinners or midday ocean swims. Of course, being in tourism also helps, as its one of Hawaii’s most vibrant industries, and we get to work with incredible people and businesses on the daily.

“Hawaii is our headquarters, our home and where we got our start, and the hundreds of tour operators we serve in this market have become our staunchest supporters and our friends. I’m very proud of what our Honolulu office has accomplished and I’m delighted to see our business, our employees and their work ethic recognized by this important award.”

-Lawrence

We’re incredibly proud of our Oahu team for creating an culture of dedication, growth and best of all, family. Now to celebrate!

A special thanks to our teammates for making FareHarbor all that it is. And also to Pacific Business News for the fantastic event and great honor.

50 Miles of #DWIFT

It’s no secret that we’re all about the #DWIFT (Do Whatever It Takes) at FareHarbor. In fact, it’s become more than just an acronym for our team – it’s something of a lifestyle.

So naturally, when Davis Cutter, one of our awesome Account Executives in the Needham office, decided to run a 50-mile race and come in first place? We couldn’t help but brag a little. Here’s the inspirational story from the man himself:


“Why?!” It’s the main question I’m asked when I tell people that I willingly signed up to suffer. Admittedly, it’s a fair question. There’s a million reasons to not run 50 miles, and I think about them everyday. You can probably guess the usual suspects: the time, the heat, the cold, the sheer distance, social sacrifices, solitude, discomfort, and work/training balance. Even the simple prospect of defeat is daunting enough to say, “maybe next time.” Yet, in the end, they’re all merely excuses – just reasons never to toe that starting line.

So, let’s not dwell on the reasons one can’t or shouldn’t. Instead, let me tell you why I did.

There comes a moment in every endurance race that looks something like this: My hands are on my knees, chin to my chest, and I’m exhaling in exhaustion, frustration, and fatigue. No matter where my mind wanders—to the beach or even my desk at work—I always return as the same, stagnant puddle. Something grabs my attention, perhaps the blister on my heel or a scratch on my knee.

It’s the quintessential pose of failure, a brief moment between steps where there’s a clear choice: move forward, or quit. But, there’s a silver lining. You see, I’ve already made up my mind long ago, and I’ve been preparing for this moment since I decided to sign up for the race. Before I know it, I’m running again.

While some see this as a “breaking point,” it’s really the heart of discovery.

To give some background, I decided I was going to run a 50 mile race about a year ago, when I ran the world’s highest marathon in the Himalayas. Since the race was in such a remote location, the majority of runners were local children from Ladakh, a mountainous region of Northern India. As I ran with my GPS watch, electrolyte drink, and pen-scribbled pacing goals on my forearm, the local kids were blazing past me, smiling, wearing their only pair of run-down sneakers. This wasn’t a race for them, it was a social event! So, when I saw a massive banana fight among a group of runners at mile 23’s aid station, I hissed with disappointment. This wasn’t what a marathon “should” look like. Are people actually enjoying this?

I realized two things during that race: 1. Challenging things can actually be fun, and 2. The majority of physical hardships are won mentally. Even though the race was difficult and at high altitude, I survived. It was time to go bigger, and longer. From that point on, I prepared to my mind and body, (mostly my mind) to run 50 miles.

And then before I knew it, I achieved my goal. It took me 10 hours and 23 minutes on slippery roots and rocks, mostly in the dark, but I ended up coming in first place. More importantly, I had fun.

One of my best friends paced me the last 25 miles, and now we have a great memory to share over a beer (particularly the moment where I broke down from dehydration and yelled at him that we were lost running in circles). My parents were even at the finish line at 1am — cheering in the rain. And my colleagues at FareHarbor have been overwhelmingly supportive, motivating me to achieve even more — both professionally and athletically.

So, when you arrive at that moment, staring at the ground, watching sweat drip from your nose to your feet — you’re faced with a decision. Either you quit, or you keep moving forward.

I’ve always been a firm believer that challenge breeds excellence. Whether it’s an emotional, physical, or all-encompassing wall, you always end up better on the other side. For me, running is a therapeutic challenge, a means to push to the limit, keep pushing, and then push some more.

Running isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. We’re not all runners here at FareHarbor, and the team ranges from surfers to mountain bikers to cross-fit heroes. We’re all just trying to be better in our own ways.

The Aloha Tour

When two of our team members decided they wanted to travel the country in a renovated Sportsmobile, we saw an opportunity to connect with our clients and get back to our roots. Here’s the story behind the Aloha Tour:

The past year has been quite the whirlwind. We added dozens of new features, introduced the FareHarbor app, and have been growing nonstop. In fact, as of today, our team is over 100 people strong, and we’re working with almost 3,000 of the nation’s tour & activity providers.

It’s crazy to think it was hardly over three years ago that we were a modest five-person team. Back then we worked intimately with our first and only client, spending long days on the deck of their catamaran, learning their business inside and out. Their office was our office, their clients were our clients, their success was our success. It was a true partnership.

Fast forward to today and we’re still working closely with that very first client, although now we do so from our own offices (a bummer for us, since you really can’t beat an ocean front desk). We’ve gone from face-to-face meetings to phone calls and email threads. It’s safe to say that some things have changed.

But then again, some haven’t.

We’re still a family-run business, built from the ground up on the North Shore of Oahu. And we still aim to make all of our clients feel as our first one did – like they’re the only one.

While it’s exciting to be growing, there’s a part of us that misses the old days. With today’s culture of tech, software and instant communication, so many of our client relationships end up being entirely virtual.

As a Hawaiian-born company, that’s not what we’re used to. Meetings in Hawaii are almost always in-person, and it’s common for us to know the business owners personally. It makes the people we work with feel less like clients, and more like our friends.

It’s time we bring that personal touch to the mainland. We want to shake more hands, talk more story, and put a face to a few more of the awesome people we work with.

When two members of our team decided to move into a Sportsmobile, we saw the chance to do just that. World, say hello to the Aloha Tour.

Over the next couple of months, two of our own will be touring the Northwest in their renovated camper van. After months of outfitting their rig with all the adventure necessities – solar power, mobile wifi, gear racks and storage – they’re ready to hit the highway.

Colton (Account Executive, West Coast) and Becca (Brand Marketing Manager) will be stopping in with FareHarbor clients as they go, getting us a step closer to the days when we had the privilege of meeting all our partners face-to-face.

If you’re in the Northwest and interested in saying hello, getting an in-person training, scoring some FareHarbor swag, or just sharing a beer with two people traveling in a van, we’d love to add you to our route.

In the meantime, you can see where we are and who we’re visiting by checking back here, or on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

We’ll see you soon!

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group

What’s the price tag for three days of hands-on training from coastal paramedics, professional big wave chargers and zonal specialists? There isn’t one. (Except, maybe, having the cajones to want to get in the water with 40-foot walls in the first place.)

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG Training

Started in 2011 by big wave surfers Danilo Couto and Kohl Christensen, the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group runs an annual three-day ocean safety summit on the North Shore of Oahu. The organization was founded after the devastating loss of the duo’s close friend and fellow big wave surfer, Sion Milosky, who suffered a fatal wipeout while chasing massive swell at Maverick’s.

For Danilo, it was an eye-opening loss. “I was there with him, and I knew there were ways we could have prevented that loss. There were things we could have changed to avoid it.” This conviction eventually grew into the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group – and a personal mission for Danilo.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_teaching

BWRAG’s first meeting took form as a modest training in a barn on Kohl’s farm, where they reviewed CPR and basic safety protocols. It was a solid start, but Danilo envisioned something greater. He wanted “to push it a little more, do a little more training into really radical life saving.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This was all happening around the same time that big wave surfing began gaining real momentum, so pushing it to the next level felt natural. The surf community was stoked to have a venue to promote better communication and preparation in the water.

Fast forward five years, and BWRAG now hosts hundreds of surfers, connecting them with experts like Brian Keaulana, one of the pioneers of ocean safety in Hawaii, performance freedivers, paramedics and local professionals. Held this year at Turtle Bay Resort, the three-day summit offers extensive training in all forms of high risk management. They methodically break down potential risks and worst case scenarios, analyzing the mechanics of different breaks and how each reacts to powerful swell. From apnea training to wave forecasting, participants are educated on both preventative and emergency procedures so if the time comes, they’ll have the tools to save not only their own life, but someone else’s.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_CPR Training

Although the majority of the summit focuses on mental and physical training, participants are also briefed on the latest life saving equipment, from Jet Skis to inflatable vests. Industry experts come out to demonstrate how to efficiently use modern life-saving technologies, making it easier for participants to properly utilize them in tough conditions.

Danilo notes that, “Already a bunch of our friends have been saved by this movement. Everybody is starting to be more ready to react when things go wrong.” But despite all the positive feedback, he constantly feels like they could be doing more. BWRAG is always looking for opportunities to grow, working to offer a deeper education, more targeted trainings and larger summits that can reach more surfers. After all, the ultimate goal is to do more than run a successful summit. The dream is to create a full blown safety fever – a movement that brings a sense of risk responsibility to everyone involved in big wave surfing.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_apnea training

BWRAG doesn’t charge for the summit, they aren’t chasing money or recognition. They’re simply working to minimize risk in the sport they love. The best way to do that? Any of them will tell you. “Train hard and have all your equipment prepared. The only way you can feel ready and relaxed is to feel prepared.”

We’re honored to have partnered with the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group as a 2015 corporate sponsor. For more information on the organization, please visit BWRAG.ORG.

First Snow Of The Season

Summit County, Colorado was gifted a snow storm last weekend, and our Customer Experience team couldn’t resist capitalizing on the mountains being open.

Heavy winds and substantial snowfall had shut down I-70 from Denver to Silverthorne, which put ski resorts out of reach for several hours mid-day Friday. Once the accidents were cleared from the road, Pat and I made our way up to meet Anders, who was already waiting for us in the mountains. The road conditions were brutal, and after two hours of slowly chugging along the highway we finally made it to Dillon, CO to hunker down for the evening.

Snowboarding_breckenridge

Saturday morning on Copper Mountain, the skies were clear, the sun was out and after a balmy 3-degree Fahrenheit morning, it warmed up to an agreeable 30-degrees. It was still early season, so only a few runs were open – but there was a lot of fun to be had.

We ran a few laps on the American Eagle chair before migrating to the American Flyer, where we met up with Nick (Client Onboarding) and Charlie (Client Strategy and Marketing). It was the first day back on the snow for most of us, so we shook off some of the summer rust with a few warm up runs. As our legs slowly got back beneath us, we hit some cruisier runs, hooting, hollering and bombing downhill chasing nothing in particular but having a great time doing it. After all, fresh snow, limited crowds and blue skies are a no-fail recipe for a good day on the hill.

Once our legs started to burn, it was time to think about how much more riding was left in our day. Which quickly set us to thinking about having a few beers at the lodge bar. It’s true that no day on the mountain is complete without it. We made sure to honor this tradition before finally calling it for the day.

All in all, it was a perfect early season day with a great group of people.

FareHarbor Beach Cleanup

Our Product team has a knack for good ideas, but this might have been their best one yet. Last week they headed out to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach to help clean up any litter that had found its way down to the sand. Besides scoring a few hours of beach time, what motivated them to do it? They just love their beach! If you need proof, check out how many of our CTO’s tweets contain the word “surf” or “beach” — we’re pretty sure he’s batting over .500.

They ended up with five bags of garbage, stuffed full of long forgotten items ranging from (several) pairs of socks to a whole pantry worth of condiments. Oddities like fifty feet of kite string, a broken pail and shovel, a pair of underwear and a tank top also made it into their bags. We’re all for skinny dipping, people, but make sure your clothes follow you home next time!

Cleanup

Bonus: After the beach cleanup ended, they went on a product cleanup mission, taking out 37 outstanding tickets. Thanks for keeping things tidy, team!