Nate Williams says missing out on a Cedar Point trip two years ago was one of the best things that ever happened to him—at least from a business perspective.
Instead of getting wet on splash rides, Williams went kayaking with friends on Lansing's Red Cedar River. That day, he says, literally "launched a thousand ships"—or at least the idea behind the growing number of water vessels available to rent through River Town Adventures.
Williams opened the kayak and canoe rental business with his lifelong friend Paul Brogan in June 2014. Since then, River Town Adventures has grown from a fleet of eight kayaks and six canoes to 43 single kayaks, four tandem kayaks, 10 canoes, two paddle boards, and two paddle boats. A pontoon may join the fleet as the summer progresses.
"The very first weekend we were opened, we had every single boat on the river," says Williams. "We just kept buying boats all summer."
River Town paddlers can cruise 12 routes on the Red Cedar and Grand Rivers, meandering from Williamston to downtown, and from Dimondale to Grand Ledge. Paddlers meet outside the Lansing City Market on the River Trail and are shuttled with their rented boat of choice to their selected drop. Once on the water, paddlers make their way back downstream to River Town headquarters.
"You get to see the city from a totally different perspective when you're out on the river," says Williams. "It's really cool to go through downtown and see the Boji Tower and the Accident Fund and to go by the REO Museum. Plus, there's lots of nature within the city. You feel like you're 100 miles from everywhere."
Williams says he never expected River Town Adventures to grow so fast since he and Brogan were initially interested in simply providing a casual option for folks in town over long weekends.
River Town Adventures runs May through October, weather permitting, and employs six staff—four new this season. Williams and Brogan are also looking to build an "off season" business that involves providing limousine bus service for private parties.
Source: Nate Williams, Co-owner, River Town Adventures
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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