Business Spotlight: Peak Bagger
After mastering the Ozarks hills, expert guide Dan Nash sets his sights on mountains abroad; Kilimanjaro down, Peru up next
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:56 AM
Dan Nash has built a track record as an expert guide, showing people the Ozarks outdoors.
Dan nash got his start as a trail guide in the Ozarks and has expanded his talents to a national clientele. Above, he hikes at Busiek State Forest.
Hiking the Ozarks LLC and Satori Adventures and Expeditions LLC
Owner: Dan Nash
Address: No physical address.
Phone: (417) 844-5834
Web: www.hikingtheozarks.com and www.satoriadventuresexpeditions.com
Services: Outdoor education, guided expeditions and hiking gear reviews
Employees: 1 (contractors as needed)
Elaborate reviews of outdoor gear and clothing are distinctive elements of www.hikingtheozarks.com. Outdoor companies send Nash items to review, and he and his colleagues respond with detailed comments of how the item performs in the field, including the location and conditions under which it was tested, as well as the tastes of the reviewer. Although most reviews are positive, they end with a section of pros and cons, and most of the reviews carry at least one con, if not more. Hiking the Ozarks gains no revenue from the gear reviews. However, the company collects small fees paid by gear companies whenever customers make purchases after following Nash’s Web site links.
Now, he’s showing them the world.
With an emphasis on outdoor education, Nash has been helping people hike, climb, backpack and float across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, doing business as Hiking the Ozarks.
Late last year, he created Satori Adventures and Expeditions, fashioning trips to South America, Europe and Asia for a national clientele. In February, Nash took a group to Mount Kilimanjaro, and he’s planning six more trips this year, two each to Peru, Iceland and Nepal.
The fledgling company builds on the strengths of the original: boosting knowledge while providing expertise.
“If you want to just start out and do something really fun locally and learn – great. We can do that, and teach you some classes in the meantime,” Nash says. “And then maybe down the road, you can go to Peru or Iceland, and maybe even after that you can go to Pakistan or Tibet or Africa.”
Nash manages his business alongside his 16-year career in the Missouri Highway Patrol, where he’s a criminal investigator with the rank of sergeant with Troop D in Springfield.
From club to Web site to business
A California native whose family moved to Springfield when he was 6, Nash says he formed Ozark Mountain Trailblazers, a no-cost club, in search of “like-minded people to do stuff with.”
In 2007, he started www.hikingtheozarks.com to share resources, publicize events and build an ever-mounting bank of gear reviews. He added classes and guided trips in 2009 for the official launch of Hiking the Ozarks LLC. The guided trips in the Ozarks cost between $150 to $200 a day.
Classes, which range between $10 and $50, are growing rapidly, accounting for roughly 70 percent of revenue, Nash says. He holds classes at retailers such as Ozark Adventures in Springfield, Alpine Shop in the St. Louis area, and Lewis & Clark Outfitters in Rogers and Fayetteville, Ark.
The classes at Ozark Adventures usually attract 15 to 30 people, according to Nadeena Whittle, assistant store manager. Classes motivate newcomers who want advice and prefer group activities, she says, and the mutual benefit for Nash, the store and the participants is clear: “We carry the gear that Dan talks about,” Whittle says.
Jana Addison, a K–5 special education teacher at Clever Elementary School, has taken a backpacking class and three levels of survival courses, all priced in the $10 to $20 range. She trained with Nash in a grueling fitness test along the Compton Trail in Arkansas in the summer heat, preparing for a mid-2010 backpacking trip to Glacier National Park in Montana.
“When I got to Montana, it was a piece of cake,” she says.
Upon urging from friends, Nash began planning a new company for international expeditions. After a year of establishing contacts at key destinations, he created Satori in December 2010.
He separated the companies to set off Satori with a name suggesting its international scope.
Insurance was a factor: basic liability coverage costs $2,500 to $3,000 annually for Satori, more than three times the cost for Hiking the Ozarks, Nash says.
Through a wide network of contacts, Nash handles logistics and arrangements for his traveling companions, particularly on excursions abroad.
“How do you know if the donkeys are lined up from Springfield, if you’re going to Pakistan? You need somebody local to help you with that,” he says.
Nash guides many of the trips he organizes. For an elaborate expedition to the Himalayas, he’ll steer clients to join a group managed by his contacts. Nash will shape other trips to clients’ preferences for location, dates, activities and cost, he says.
Satori trips range widely in cost (airfare not included):
• $40,000 for 62 days at Mount Everest.
• $3,150 for the 9-day Kilimanjaro trip Nash guided earlier this year.
• $600 for a climbing trip to Peru slated for July.
Summer Dahozy, a café manager in Seattle, says she learned about the Kilimanjaro trip from a college friend, Tess Flood, who served as an assistant guide on the trip. Dahozy spent nearly $7,000, including the $3,150 fee, $2,100 airfare and major gear upgrades.
“Worth every single penny,” she says. “The second we got off the mountain, (we) all said we want to come back some day and do it all again.”
Nash declined to disclose revenues but said Hiking the Ozarks’ 2010 volumes were up 80 percent due to expanding outdoor education classes. Satori is running about triple the revenue stream as Hiking the Ozarks, Nash says.