05 May Sam’s “Summertime… Come and Gone”
As the sun has been setting on my past twenty-three years at the helm of Keweenaw Adventure Company (KAC), so many memories of the people I’ve encountered and experiences I’ve had have been flashing through my head — while a recurring lyric from a Grateful Dead song (U.S. Blues) simultaneously highlights the bitter-sweetness of the occasion:
Come and Gone
My, Oh, My
In recollection, my days at KAC began when Bill Clinton was president, the internet was in its infancy (“dial-up” was the norm), the Red Wings were back-to-back defending Champions and folks were nervous about the catastrophic implications of Y2K. Since then, I’ve been “all in” and every morsel of my being (mentally, physically, financially) has been committed to the company’s operation, evolution and ultimate success. I’ve helped to facilitate numerous adventures for legions of valued customers — many of whom have become valued friends! — and my summers have known not much else. These efforts have led me down a path of opportunity, fulfillment and gratitude while bearing witness to KAC’s transformation from its modest beginnings to what it’s become — in essence, far surpassing my wildest expectations.
… efforts have lead me down a path of opportunity, fulfillment and gratitude while bearing witness to KAC’s transformation from its modest beginnings to what it’s become – in essence, far surpassing my wildest expectations.
In fact, I feel one of the biggest factors of KAC’s success was surrounding myself with good people from the get go. Having never worked in a bike shop nor managed a business before, and with just one season of sea kayak guiding under my belt, I was clearly a neophyte and had to rely upon the skills of others, while learning-by-doing. The staff over the years were (or became) true professionals and ultimately delivered the customer experience –whether it was wrenching on a bike, guiding a sea kayak or mountain bike tour, driving the shuttle or helping out in the shop, the goal of providing “legendary customer service” was always at the core. Too many names and memories of past and current staff to list, though to be fair, you know who you are and I will always have the utmost thanks for all of your contributions.
… the goal of providing “legendary customer service” was always at the core.
Another key factor was commitment to community — and in those early years as it is today, the mantra of the mountain bike community was, “Communities build trails. Trails build community.” Starting my pioneer trail building endeavors with a hand full or so of loose-knit volunteers, we believed we were creating something that was not just fun to ride, but also beneficial for the greater community by working to mesh economics and the environment. Through occasions such as weekly group rides, volunteer trail work days, the CH Fat Tire Festival and eventual establishment of the CH Trails Club in particular, the grassroots building of “community” took hold. In fact, supporters from a cross-section of communities came together to realize countless, extraordinary accomplishments over the past two plus decades. Again, too many names to mention, though you know who who are and your contributions, no matter how big or small, are sincerely appreciated!
Through occasions such as weekly group rides, volunteer trail work days, the CH Fat Tire Festival and eventual establishment of the CH Trails Club in particular, the grassroots building of “community” took hold. In fact, supporters from a cross-section of communities came together…
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve always felt that through the promotion and growth of silent-sports in this region, there would be greater potential for conservation of the Keweenaw. I figured that helping to instill a respect and love for the land could help ensure its protection. Due to corporate (e.g. logging companies) land ownership, there’s been a constant threat of fragmentation and over development of our region. Thus maintaining open space and public access to the Keweenaw has been at the heart of KAC (as noted in 1999 Mission Statement). In 2019 I was honored to be one of the founding members of the Keweenaw Outdoor Recreation Coalition (KORC), which pulls a broad group of stakeholders together with the common goal of protecting the at-risk-of being-sold lands for the benefit of future conservation, recreation and permanent public access. To learn more about the efforts and how you may help to support, click here. It undoubtedly excites me to continue (and advance) my involvement with KORC and other such endeavors moving forward, post-KAC, in my “Next Chapter.”
… learn more about the status of “saving the Keweenaw” and how you may give your support, click here!
Shelby and I are grateful beyond words that the business has afforded us the opportunity to launch our next chapter, and ultimately have YOU — our “community” of loyal customers and supporters for all of these years — to thank! We hope you will continue to show the same for the new owner, Raymond Landsberg, as we anticipate he’ll continue to deliver great customer service and meaningful memories for you.
Pease join us in wholeheartedly welcoming Raymond to our community(s)! Already demonstrating an active engagement with his current community(s) and accumulating a variety of experience that will contribute to his future success, we are excited to hand over the reins. We’ve built a solid foundation for Raymond to continue to build upon and we’ll be around to lend any support he may need to ensure for a smooth transition.
In short, it’s been a great run and I’ll look forward to seeing you out on the trails or bopping about town this summer and beyond!
Deborah WinchellPosted at 04:15h, 12 May
Sam and Shelby,
I so wish that I had been able to work for you that summer of 2017, because I admire you both so much and am impressed by all that you have accomplished both with KAC and for the Copper Harbor/Keweenaw community’.
I wish you success and more dreams fulfilled as you begin this new journey.
When I get up that way, I’d like to stop by and say hello. I really miss it up there.
Shelby LaubhanPosted at 16:42h, 12 May
Deb!! Grand to hear from you and yes, so wish you could have joined us in 2017, too. 🙂
Many regards for your kind note and it would be great to see you again in the Harbor!
Marianne Flynn StatzPosted at 14:10h, 10 May
Bravo Sam! My sis-in-law and I had some incredible adventures—going back to the beginning of KAC! I wish you all the best in the future! Marianne Flynn Statz
Shelby LaubhanPosted at 16:40h, 12 May
Thank you for the well wishes, Marianne! And thanks for joining us for so many seasons — happy future adventuring to you, too!!