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Chad Pottruff... the idea behind Heritage River Canoe & Kayak and Grand River Rafting.
We are a family business that started in 2006 on the Grand River near Paris, Ontario. Our first company was Grand River Rafting, in 2013 we purchased Heritage River Canoe & Kayak Company and incorporated.
It was my son's idea to start this whole adventure, I thought he was crazy, because there were already six other outfitters here… I was sure we would lose our shirts! But the secret was finding a niche market using rafts as floating classrooms to teach from.
Physically we had the right ingredients... we owned 1 km of river frontage with our own 5 acre island in the middle of the Grand. We also had a huge farm shop available for storage. Our family had a diverse background in forestry, farming, management, accounting, restaurants and outdoor education. Our farming ethics of integrity, hard work, creativity and going the extra mile for others... drove our business in the right direction.
But no matter how great your program is... if you can't be found... nothing matters! So we created a website that was the "face" of what we do... with high search engine optimization. Our company became like a fish net on the web... bringing people to the Grand River.
We chose the concept of making our trips timeless… encouraging our guides to show the valley the way they would to their best friend. We tried to anticipate what people might forget… ready to help. And if we couldn't do something well… we sent our clients to those that did.
When the trip is over, we become concierges suggesting places to eat, things to do and places to stay. Our hospitality without charge... means a lot to those that visit us.
We were very gun-shy of TripAdvisor. A customer told us we should go on it (knew nothing about it). When I looked Trip Advisor up… I saw it as a double edge sword… great for being found… and great for being found out! We reluctantly went on it and could not believe how positive visitors saw our country-style service.
When many companies become successful, they often tend to hoard their prosperity… not sharing. Instead we choose to help others start up their businesses, hosting and promoting them free on our website… sending them our customers even if are the competition. We mentor “start-ups” hoping to help them avoid the pitfalls we have experienced.
We have over 80 business partnerships. Our goal is to help everyone do better. For us, doing this has been a privilege.
Today, we have over 30 people on staff. We have expanded from rafts... to canoes, kayaks, tubing, yaking, stand up paddleboards and fishing. On land, we offer edible plant hikes, cycling, rope courses, First Nations adventures, farm gate experiences, camping and catered BBQ's.
When we say we look forward to showing you the valley… its the truth!
Garth & Chad Pottruff