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

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


Read more...

Kill the Meeting

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Meetings get a bad rap. A few local companies make them count.


Read more...

Fly Zone

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE

The black soldier fly’s larvae are among the most ravenous and least picky eaters on earth.


Read more...

Downtime

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.


Read more...

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


Read more...

A Complex Portrait: Immigration, Jobs and the Economy

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE & KIM MOORE

Oregon Business reports on the visa squeeze, the skills gap and foreign-born residents who are revitalizing rural Oregon.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits announced

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

100NP14logo4WebOregon Business magazine has named the sixth annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon.


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