After 15 years, The Dan River Company is still going strong and looking for ways to better itself over the next decade and a half.
“Things are going really well; we think we have a good reputation. It’s a smooth operation, it’s taken a while, but we’ve gotten there,” David Hoskins, owner of The Dan River Company, said.
Hoskins said that in the early days of the company it was just him and a lot of hard work, but now the company has numerous managers, drivers, bartenders and even a marketing consultant, all of which were added due to the growing patron base of the company.
Hoskins started The Dan River Company in 2001, having previously managed The Southwyck Farm Bed and Breakfast in Lawsonville and a boat operation at Hanging Rock Outdoor Center.
The company now runs five shuttles per day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., every hour on the hour.
Hoskins said that guests can either choose from an already established trip or they can request a custom trip during the week and the staff will work to accommodate the request.
Of the two pre-established routes, Hoskins said that there’s a 6 mile trip that usually takes between 2 and 3 hours and a 13 mile trip that can take between 4 and a half hours to 5 hours to complete. Hoskins added that the 13 mile trip can be draining due to the fact that you’re basically on the river for the majority of the day.
All of the trips are one way shows, which allow people to be dropped off up river and end up back at the parking lot of The Dan River Company. Hoskins said that the company maintains a supply of 40 kayaks and 8 canoes.
Hoskins noted that one of the things that makes his company special is the fact that it’s right next door to the Green Heron Ale House, a beer and wine establishment. Hoskins added that often times people will shower off at The Dan River Company after a long day on the river then go over to the Green Heron Ale House for a beer to finish out the day.
Starting August 1, Hoskins said, alcohol will no longer be allowed on the river, but notes that the Green Heron Ale House is a great legal alternative and allows people to “tell the stories of the day.”
On average the company has between 100 to 125 customers per day.
“We can handle a lot of people on the river at once, but we try to keep it spaced out,” Hoskins said.
In addition to steady growth, Hoskins said that the company is very focused on public service, working with the Tar Heel Paddle Association during its river cleanup efforts and a Poker Paddle Run.
Hoskins said that he has his eye on turning the company into a B Corporation or a Benefit Corporation which would allow for employee ownership and community and environmental engagement.
“We would like to have employee ownership to make sure the long term employees have a vested interest in the company,” Hoskins said.
As for employees that perhaps aren’t planning to stay with the company long term, Hoskins said that the company has employed many North Stokes High School students over the years and even some teachers from the school as well.
Hoskins said that he hopes to expand to multiple locations in the future, while also “trying to improve what we have.”
The company is open for business seven days a week and is closed from November 1 through April 1 for the winter. During the off season the company works any renovations that the facility may need and services all of their shuttle vehicles.
“I’ve found out that if you do one thing really well, you’ll get known for it and we rent boats well,” Hoskins said of the success of the company thus far.
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.