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Business Happenings - July 2002

“Come Play In Our Backyard”

by Carrie Mossien

Moabites are lucky – and right – to claim the Colorado Plateau as their backyard playground. World Wide River Expeditions carries a double meaning for this message found on the cover of the 35-year-old river company’s brochure. People, lots of them, literally play in owners Nicki and Steve Hazlett’s backyard on Riversands Road nine months out of the year. World Wide River Expeditions’ best marketing tools are its guides, and this year 18 out of 28 of them live at the company’s off-main base camp and office. The Hazletts make their home there with five children, ages 6 months to 11 years. Grandparents on both sides of the family live within a mile or two. The Hazletts call this a “family operation.” And so it is.

“Two guides just came in from the daily and they were having a blast out there with the kayaks,” Steve said at the end of a recent and very unseasonably low water river-running day. “We’re not minding the low water. The water’s warm and people are having fun. It will probably be a record low water year, but that’s just how it goes. We don’t know what’s normal over the long course of things.”

World Wide has 30 inflatable kayaks that hold two people each. Steve said the inflatables are relatively easy for young people to maneuver and the low water takes away some of the danger factor. There’s as much opportunity for fun in low water as there is in so-called “normal” years, the way Steve sees it.

“We’ve been down here (from the Salt Lake area) for 15 years,” Nicki says. “We started as guides for Richard Jones, who owned World Wide for 30 years before he retired. At first we did summers while we went to school. Then we came down to manage it. As owners it’s major full-time for us now.”

Steve Hazlett was a business teacher at Grand County High School for a few years while the couple managed the boating business until the Hazletts decided to buy the company last year. Richard Jones was ready to embark on his lifelong dream of boating across the Atlantic, and he did so, from Portugal to the West Indies in a boat he built called the Brother of Jared. For Steve and Nicki the decision was easy: if the company sold to anyone else they would have to move and give up their vocation of 15 years. “As it turns out Nicki is able to use the family and consumer science degree she earned and I’m able to use the business degree I earned,” Steve points out. “And we love hanging out with the guides,” Nicki adds.

From mid-April to mid-September the Hazletts organize a multitude of river trips: Cataract, Westwater and the Daily on the Colorado, Desolation Canyon on the Green, and the Main Salmon in Idaho. The trips vary in length from three to five days. One day Westwater trips are also available. Unlike many river companies, the guides at World Wide rotate so that a guide coming off a multi-day Cataract trip might spend the next week on the Daily. This is where Steve said the guides are World Wide’s best marketing. “They come off a trip like that excited, and they talk about it to our Daily customers,” Next thing you know our customers want to do the multi-day trip.” And it gives the guides both the break and the excitement these adventure-seeking boatmen and women thrive on. “Most of the guides that come to us are very entertaining,” Nicki says poignantly. “They have a lot of people skills, a lot of knowledge and they love the river.”

Still, the Hazletts go to great expense each year to make sure all of their guides have the highest classification available to river guides – Guide 1 – so that all of them can take people out on all of the trips available. “Besides rowing, geology, flora, fauna and those things of interest, they are very well-trained in advanced first aid,” Nicki said. “Even the returning guides are retrained each year. This year we passed on it because every single one of our guides are back from last year. We really didn’t need to repeat it for anybody.” Steve said many of the guides become family as well. The Hazlett’s work is their lifestyle. “We just want to have fun,” Nicki said. “we want to play.” Steve laughs. Both have said they get on the river only a couple of times a year themselves, and the office mailings, phone calls, commissary – none of it runs itself. What she means, Nicki points out, is that their work is fun. Steve’s dad, Don Hazlett helps keep the machinery running and Nicki’s parents help drive the shuttles and run the commissary. The older children help entertain guests, both on the river and off.

World Wide offers competitive prices on its trips because the company is “off-Main Street,” but still has combination packages that include horseback riding at Red Cliffs Adventure Lodge. Brochures and rack cards are available around town, and a video is available on request for those interested in one of the World Wide River Expeditions packages. Also, Steve said the website at has become one of the company’s best advertising venues. For more information, contact Nicki or Steve at 435-259-7515, 800-231-2769, or visit the office at 625 Riversands Road in Moab.

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