Flagstaff Business News is spotlighting First Chair Rentals on North Humphreys Street and owner Robbie Kerr.
FBN: What made you decide to open this type of business?
I can't really say I made the decision to open a ski and snowboard rental shop, that credit goes to Brady Black and Craig Culler of Moenkopi River Works. It was more of a decision on how to utilize the building that is zoned residential and commercial. They decided to open the shop and asked if I wanted in. After a summer of commercial fishing in Alaska, I came home and laid out all my money and along with theirs, we bought everything we needed to open a rental shop. Two winters came and went without even getting to unlock the doors; then, on the third season we unlocked the doors and I had a blast, working with the customers, tuning equipment and working my 10th season in the lift department at the AZ Snowbowl. I was now completely engulfed in the ski industry and I loved it. Five seasons went by and on the sixth, we decided to sell the business, it was too up and down, mother nature was too fickle. After long thought, I decided to buy Craig and Brady out and keep the shop open myself. Fishing is my summer employment, but I needed something for the winter and with the talk of snow making in the works, I was willing to take a risk and buy the shop; I enjoyed it too much to let someone else own it. Since I've owned it, there have been good and bad seasons but at least I have been able to unlock the doors.
FBN: What is your business philosophy?
To be truthful and honest with every customer even if it means losing a sale that day, because that person will come back with a group the next time. Often, a couple or a family will come in at 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon on a busy weekend and want to rent equipment. I explain to them how their day will play out and that by the time they get equipment, parking, dressed, buy lift tickets and wait in the maze line; they are going to get 2 maybe 3 runs down the mountain for all the time and especially the money they just spent. Most people see the logic go to a movie or shopping downtown. They come back after 5:00 and pick up equipment for the next day or I see them the following morning.
FBN: What is something about your business people would find surprising?
Gosh!! where do I start? There is a new story every day, but if I had to specify one thing that surprises even me, it would have to be the way people treat the equipment. We live in Arizona and have rocks, but do you have to aim at them? Nature of the business I guess.
FBN: What advice would you give someone wanting to start a business?
- Stick to the business plan you had in your head that drove you to go into business in the first place.
- Love what you do.
- Understand that sometimes the owner doesn't get a paycheck!
FBN: How do you see your business evolving in five years?
I think snow making is the only thing that can answer that question. With snow making, I can expand into the retail business and maybe even build a more suitable storefront. Without snow making, I guess I will just keep changing the color of my building.
Robbie Kerr is the owner of First Chair Rentals. His store is located at 612 N. Humphreys. 928) 556-9096. More information is available at www.firstchairrentals.com