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Pete Furgeson is a Certified Marine Mechanic with extensive experience in servicing all makes and models. Norma Hansen, Pete’s fiancee, handles all aspect of business management and development for Pete’s Marina.
The following is courtesy of the Columbia Valley Pioneer (May 19, 2006)
Pete’s boat rental business buzzing along for 23 years
Pete’s Marina will open this May long weekend for another season.
The small building beside the creek is almost the first thing visitors see when they drive down the long hill into Athalmer.
From there Pete Furgeson and his fiancée Norma Hansen rent a variety of boats and watercraft to visitors, mostly from Alberta, who enjoy hitting the lake on their holidays. Pete started renting and repairing boats 23 years ago, and he says over the years the business has evolved.
He started the business himself with one tiny rental boat and now has seven employees.
“It’s seen a lot of changes,” says Pete.
He now performs repairs at his new service shop in the industrial park, located near Te Papa Nui Antiques. “We had outgrown our repairs location at the marina, and needed more room to expand,” says Pete. Pete says the new location gives him more room to work on boats and allows that side of the business to expand. “Now I won’t have to be fixing boats outside when it’s raining,” says Pete. He is braced for a busy long weekend.
“For long weekends, it’s best to book rentals in advance,” says Pete. “I get a lot of walk-ins on the other weekends. We start getting really busy on Canada Day
and go hard until September.”
Pete says the rentals area is the biggest revenue generator for the business, but repairs are beginning to increase as well. In the rental area of the business, Pete says he rents top-of-the-line equipment.
“We’re running brand new equipment,” says Pete. “We have two rental boats which are 2006, and two other ones that are 2005.” Pete says they also have four skidoos and two pontoon boats.
“About 75 per cent of the business we do is with people from Alberta,” says Pete.“People within the valley seem to own their own boats, so they mainly come in for repairs.”
The marina business relies on the weather – much like farming, says Pete.
Pete’s day might be full of rental customers, but as soon as it begins to rain many of them cancel.
“It’s like watching your field get totally wiped out when people cancel,” says Pete. After many ups and downs in his life, Pete seems very optimistic about the future of the business. “We’ve been doing really well,” says Pete. “The business is exploding.”
Pete moved to the valley in 1982 with his family. After he and his wife divorced, Pete married again. Pete and his wife Jane went into business together, but she died of cancer only a few months later. “She was brought into my life for a reason,” said
Pete, he remains optimistic about his life.
Pete has a grown son and daughter, both of whom live in Calgary. They are daughter Roni, and son Cameron. Cameron helped run the marina until two years ago. He now has a boy named Seth, making Pete a proud grandfather.
During his slow season, Pete can’t stay away from the water – in the winter holidays he enjoys scuba diving in warmer waters.
In his free time, Pete enjoys singing and can often be found down at Angus McToogle’s performing with local star, Marty Beingessner. His biggest gig was performing at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary in front of 20,000 people.
“I’ll never be rich or famous,” says Pete. “But that’s what I love doing.”
Pete and Norma are engaged to be married in January, 2008. They will continue to operate the marina together, and grow to the needs of their clients.
Norma Hansen has resided in the Valley for 14 years, and has worked at the Invermere CIBC branch for all of those years. She first became involved with the marina more than four years ago, and today is very involved with overall operations, specializing in finance, marketing and human resources.