Home Archives February 2008 Cruising from high tech to the high seas

Cruising from high tech to the high seas

| Print |  Email
Friday, February 01, 2008

SteveLevich.jpg

Many people dream of escaping the corporate world, though few are brave — or crazy — enough to actually break away. Steve Levich spent more than 20 years in the computer marketing business, working his way to the upper management at Intel. When Intel downsized in 2000, it offered severance packages to employees who volunteered to leave. Levich saw a way out.

“I was getting burnt out with the corporate environment and working 10- to 12-hour days,” he says. “You’re not really in control of your destiny.” News of the departure didn’t go over well with Levich’s wife, Beth, a veteran insurance claims adjuster; major life changes weren’t in her plans. But Steve was  already scoping out franchise options, ready to start up his own business.

It didn’t happen right away. Levich remained jobless for a year and considered everything from making pizzas to a muffler shop as his next business venture. Finally he found Cruise Holidays, a Portland-based cruise vacation planning company with 140 franchises in the U.S. and Canada. Levich knew Cruise Holidays, recently purchased by Carlson Companies, had deep pockets and was a stable investment. He also saw that the job would need technology and marketing skills, which he had. In addition, Beth was a pro at sales.

Admittedly, Levich knew nothing about the travel business. But a benefit of working in the industry, he explains, is that clients and cruise lines want you to have first-hand experience with the products before you sell. “When people walk in, they want someone who has experienced it all,” he says. And the Levichs have that. Steve estimates they spend three months on cruise trips every year.

“Once you become a major player in the industry, you’re invited to every inaugural,” Levich says. During a “cruise to nowhere,” professionals learn about new ships over the course of a three-day party. Cruise Holidays is now a $4 million business after just six years and has won several awards from the parent company. The Levichs employ nine people, including their oldest daughter, at their northwest Portland office near Beaverton.

Of course, the franchise began as a gamble. Levich points out they don’t get paid until the travel happens, so in a business that revolves around pre-booking, there were no profits for the first year or so. While he felt more in control than when he worked for a corporation, Levich knew he was working against the market. “But it gets you up early in the morning to go out there and get clients,” he says. They focused especially on group sales, which have become the core of their client base.

Does Levich ever tire of cruises? Hardly. “I have a list of destinations I’ve never been to, and the list is long,” he says. Having escaped the corporate world, he doesn’t dream about retirement anymore.


AMBER NOBE


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

Constant Contact

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

To prevent burnout, companies are banning email and after-hours communications. But is the 24-hour workday here to stay?


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


Read more...

Gender Code

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD

Janice Levenhagen-Seeley reprograms tech.


Read more...

Shipping News

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

In 2012 The Dalles, a city of some 14,400 located 75 miles east of Portland and often seen as the poor cousin to adjacent Hood River, completed a massive project to revitalize its dock.


Read more...

Launch

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.


Read more...

How to add positivity to your team

Contributed Blogs
Friday, September 12, 2014
happy-seo-orlando-clientsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

I often talk about what leaders can do. What about followers? If you’re a team member and you’d like to add positivity to your team, what might you do?


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS