Q&A With Colby Lawrence of Major Marine Tours
It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play. This week we’re proud to profile locally owned Major Marine Tours.
Operating nine vessels between March and October, Major Marine Tours provides various opportunities for visitors to access Kenai Fjords National Park and learn about its abundant marine wildlife. From observing orcas on their new Orca Quest Cruise to indulging in fresh Alaska salmon on a dinner cruise under the gaze of curious puffins, Major Marine offers something for everyone.
We recently sat down with Colby Lawrence to learn more about the 18-year journey he has taken from captain to Vice President of Marine Operations at Major Marine Tours.
What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?
Major Marine Tours is known for our great customer service and our close working relationship with the Kenai Fjords National Park. We have Park Rangers on our tours to narrate to guests about the amazing wildlife that we see in Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska.
Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.
We are the only company in Seward that offers a tour into Aialik Bay that visits both Holgate Glacier and Aialik Glacier in a single day. It has been a very popular cruise for us and allows guests to see two very different tidewater glaciers.
What is the best compliment your business has ever received?
Almost daily, we hear from our guests, “This was the best part of our entire Alaska vacation!” We think this speaks volumes about our company and the amazing place we get to show off.
Tell us about a community member in Seward who you admire.
Tom Tougas is a generous supporter of all things Seward. He is a great business person and has helped me tremendously.
What do you like most about living and working in Seward?
Seward reminds me of the small town in Nebraska where I grew up. I enjoy knowing my neighbors and seeing all the familiar faces throughout the year. It’s so easy to access the outdoors from Seward that my wife and I also like to get in our RV and head out of town for the weekend. We take our dogs and 4-wheelers and go exploring.
Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?
In the summer there is nothing like sitting on the deck at our house enjoying the long hours of daylight with my wife and three dogs. In the winter if I could be on a snow machine (snowmobile to you folks from the lower 48) on a daily basis I would be a happy man. Also, one of my favorite spots that Major Marine takes tourists to is Northwestern Fjords, which is a favorite kayaking spot for my wife and me.
What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?
Our company was just awarded the 2018 Alaska Ocean Leadership Award for Stewardship & Sustainability by the Alaska SeaLife Center. This is a true honor for our company as we take the local environment very seriously and strive to do everything we can to preserve such a wonderful place.
Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.
About eight years ago we decided as a company that we were going to start investing more in Seward for the long haul. Since then, we started running a new trip to Northwestern Fjord, we have installed 10 new tier-3 diesel engines in four of our vessels, and we purchased what is now the Harbor 360 Hotel. Currently, we are building a new 150-passenger catamaran for the 2018 season.
What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?
Seward is a growing market. We have seen a solid increase in passengers over the last several years. Growing a business like Major Marine Tours is not something someone could expect to do overnight. I would say start small, provide excellent customer service, and continue to invest in your company.
Feature Image: Visitors marvel at humpback whales feeding about the Spirit of Adventure. Photo Courtesy of Major Marine Tours.
For more information about Major Marine Tours or to book a trip, click here or call 907.274.7300.