Home Archives March 2007 100 Best: At River City Travel freedom isn't just a concept

100 Best: At River City Travel freedom isn't just a concept

| Print |  Email
Thursday, March 01, 2007

NO. 1  SMALL COMPANY: RIVER CITY TRAVEL

Best07RiverCityTravel.jpg

Angela Pope, and co-worker Fletcher, has telecommuted from Northeast Portland to River City Travel’s Tigard-area offices for the past two years.

Photo by Leah Nash

Like the old saying about what to do for the ones you love, two years ago River City Travel president David McElveen began setting his employees free.


No more cubicles, no more office life, no more long commutes to the company’s offices near Tigard — all thanks to technology that gives workers access to anything from the workplace in their own homes.

Today, more than 40% of the 80 employees who work for River City telecommute each day. And 41-year-old McElveen says he’s created a bit of a monster.

“People in the office get really excited about it. They really, really want to telecommute. But we do need to keep some people in the office,” he says, laughing.

When McElveen — who came from pharmaceutical sales — and vice president Joe Murray  — who was already working in the travel industry — started River City in 1999, the travel agency industry was hurting. Airline companies were cutting agents’ commissions; travelers were finding their own tickets online. Then came Sept. 11, the fallout from which only increased the number of disappearing agencies and laid-off agents.

River City, on the other hand, has never had to lay off employees because of slow business, says McElveen. That’s due in part to its client base of corporations and groups. The company, which saw about $36 million in sales last year, has also branched out. It owns 80 vacation properties on the Oregon Coast, a venture that it’s expanding to the island of Maui.

Like many budding entrepreneurs, McElveen and Murray tried to create the type of work environment they’d always dreamed of when they started the business. But since they were able to hire highly experienced employees as other agencies closed down, the company has had the freedom to take a hands-off approach to management. “As long as we’ve been considerate and fair, things work fine,” McElveen says.

River City staffers agree. They describe the management as caring and the work environment as family-like. They applaud the amount of communication McElveen and Murray have with employees.

Kerrie Morrow, one of the agents, says her bosses are the most fair business owners she’s ever worked for. “They’re just basically good people,” she says. “Everyone plays nice together.”

WINNING PROFILES

No. 1 large: U.S. Cellular leads the pack — again...

No. 1 small: River City Travel, freedom isn't just a concept...

No. 6 large: Evanta gives employees "everything"...

No. 2 small: Columbia Printing nurtures a growing
family...


No. 7 large: Walsh builds success on
shared values...


No. 10 small: Quango, a place for
hard work — ­­and naps...


THE LIST

The top 50 large companies to work for in Oregon

The top 50 small companies to work for in Oregon

THE INDEX

Alphabetical index

Category winners (Top 10s)


Methodology

And then there’s the telecommuting. “I am so lucky. It’s not that often you can say that about your job,” says Angela Pope, a 20-year veteran of the industry who’s been working from home in Northeast Portland for the past two years.

River City employees work from Vancouver, Eugene, and Lincoln City; most stop by the office once a week. Because managers at the main office can monitor the work the telecommuters have done each day, McElveen thinks there’s little difference between not being able to see someone who’s in a cubicle and someone who’s at home. Only when they’re at home they’re saving money and time by not commuting and the company is saving money on office overhead.

Pope can think of one thing that she sometimes misses: socializing with other workers. But busy agents don’t have the time to do that anyway, she says.

So, does she ever work in her pajamas? “Absolutely,” she says, laughing. “You think I get up and put makeup on every day? Are you kidding?”

— Abraham Hyatt

 

 

More Articles

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

A Good Leap Forward

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.


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...

Report Card

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Strong public schools shore up the economy, survey respondents say. But local schools demonstrate lackluster performance.


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...

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


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