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Hospitality and customer service make a difference

People have often heard me speak about, and have read my articles about, the importance of hospitality and customer service.

With permission, I reprint this letter that was sent to me from Dr. Tom Pliura. Needless to say, little acts of kindness or just plain good hospitality can earn your business years of loyalty. Thanks to Dr. Pliura for saying it all!

“I just returned from the Pagosa Springs area with my three sons (ages 8-years old, and two 13-year-olds) and their grandpa. We literally had the hunt of my entire 51-year lifetime. Maybe two lifetimes. This was my 30th consecutive year of going elk hunting in Colorado. I have hunted the Pagosa Springs area since 1984, first packing in with the well-known old outfitter, Floyd Bramwell. I guess that makes it 25 years hunting the Pagosa Springs area.

“It would be difficult to properly express in words all the reasons why I choose to return to the Pagosa area each fall to hunt. Primarily it is because of the friendly people. For example, more than 20 years ago I once was stranded with a broken truck bumper hitch. It was long after dark, with nearly everything closed up. A local rancher stopped his truck when he realized my dilemma and he promptly arranged to have a local welder summoned to weld my hitch so I could be on my way.

“In 1994, after a terrible winter storm, numerous hunters became stranded in the high country, including our camp. A local rancher, Don Weber, immediately offered to give us anything we needed to assist in getting our camp out. Mind you, Mr. Weber did not know us from the proverbial Adam, but when he learned of our plight, he offered us horses, saddles, and gear, all at no charge. Guys like this are rare as hen’s teeth, where I come from. Pagosa people like Ron Decker with the Pagosa Forest District made sure the forest service did everything in its power to help us after that storm. Sheriff Tom Richards and deputy Earl Gibbs helped assure everything was done to help all the stranded hunters, including our six guys. Don Weber and his son Andy have helped me out on numerous occasions since I first met him 15 years ago.

“Pagosa has fellows like Bob Goodman, from Goodman’s Department store. The first time I met the man, now too many years ago, he didn’t know me at all. I walked into his store, looking to buy a $3 lead rope, if I recall correctly. He overheard me mention that I had a lame horse, and it was making it tough for our hunting group. Bob Goodman walked right up to me, introduced himself, and stated he had several extra horses and would loan me as many as I needed, all free of charge. Think about this situation. I am in his place to buy a $3 lead rope, and he offers to loan me as many horses as we might need, free of charge. An outsider might perceive this to be a groundless offer, but they would be dead wrong. I know it was for real because I took Bob up on his offer, and in fact he loaned me not one but rather two horses on that trip. I had never met the man before that day and he did not know me, save for knowing I was an out-of-state hunter in need of a horse. We have come to be great friends since that first day when I met him.

“The area had one of the Grand Matrons of Archuleta County, Margaret Daugaard, a descendant of some of the original Spanish explorers and settlers in the region. I first met Margaret back in 1984 when I sauntered into her well known La Cantina establishment after a grueling 24-hour drive from Illinois. We had experienced flat tires, an overheated engine, breakdowns, mule trouble and a host of other bad things on our long trip. She introduced herself, gave me a cool fresh drink, and said, ‘Forget about your past problems, you’re in God’s Country now.’ And I was. After that first acquaintance, I developed a long-standing friendship with dear Margaret. I miss her.

“ Pagosa has people like Dave and Mary Helen Cammack. I first met the Cammacks back around 1986, or so. It goes like this. A friend of a friend of a friend knew that I was going hunting and mentioned he knew the name of a guy who lived in Pagosa. He recommended I look up David Cammack, so I did. Again, I didn’t know Cammack and he didn’t know me. I introduced myself, explained we were hunting in the area, and David immediately inquired as to whether I needed anything. I mentioned I was looking for a place to pasture my horses, and he offered me his place. This type of friendly nature is essentially unheard of back East. Few communities have people like Pagosa people. And the Cammacks have become extremely great friends of ours, even though I am only able to see them infrequently.

“You have people like Paul and Rocky Day from Day Lumber Company, and Greg Lucero and all their respective families. A brief chance meeting with these great people has developed into long-standing friendships. It would be impossible to describe all the things these families have done for me over the years. Simply impossible. You’ve got businesses like Boot Hill saddle and tack shop, that always has whatever a guy might need in the way of horse or mule supplies. On a muzzle loading hunt a few years back, when a part on a gun broke, a fellow opened up his gun shop and fixed us right up. I can’t even recall the name of the gun shop, but the guy went out of his way to help us. Pagosa has people like Nate Bryant and Ash Tulley. These fellows will go out of their way to help wayward hunters with a bit of useful knowledge about how high the elk are or whether they are still bugling, or giving a fellow a cold drink 18 miles up the trail in the Weminuche. Pagosa has fellows like Tom Stahr and his son Travis, guys that I met through other fellows. The old friend of a friend thing again. I was looking for an extra hand for some help with my livestock, and the Stahr’s stepped up to the plate to help.

“Pagosa has people like Dennis Schutz and his wife Michelle, of Big Bones Unlimited. When you need a nice elk for your 78-year old father-in-law, or if you need to find a way to get a 13-year-old boy his first chance at an elk, Schutz can put you on them. And he runs a great hunting camp, with great guides, fine cooks, and a superb hunting atmosphere. But by mentioning Schutz, I do not in any way intend to slight all the other great outfitters in the area. You’ve got Dick Ray and his son Mike, of Lobo Outfitters, and Rick House of Indian Summer Outfitters, and a host of others. We once lost a camera somewhere along a 16-mile wilderness trail, while packing out of the high country from an elk hunt. The camera contained irreplaceable pictures from a great elk hunt between a son and his father’s last elk hunt. Believing the camera was lost forever, a call was made to Rick House and his wranglers somehow found that camera and its priceless photos, along that wet and rocky trail. Then there was the time Rick House and the Weber’s helped some wayward hunters make it back to the proper trail after becoming rimrocked, wet and tired. I could go on and on.

“I am telling you Pagosa has great people. It has tremendous people.

“And it has some of the best elk hunting in the United States, as well. I know a 78-year old grandpa who can attest to that fact, as can his two 13-year old grandsons and his 8-year old grandson. My father-in-law, Mike Hansen from Paynesville, Minnesota shot a very nice elk this past week with Dennis Schutz, of Big Bones Unlimited. And my 13-year-old son, Cole, shot his first elk with Schutz too. Think about this a bit. It might not mean much to people from a big city, but it means a heck of a lot to me. A dang sure heck of a lot. When a family unit with a 70-year age difference can participate together on the hunt of a lifetime, well that is something extremely special. You aren’t likely to find that in many places these days. To cap it all off, my other son Zeke, (age 13), shot his first elk just outside Pagosa on Public Lands (National Forest) this past hunting season. Three hunters, a grandfather and his two young grandsons, and everybody shoots a nice bull elk. Only in Pagosa.

“Pagosa is a great place with great people. Don’t tell anybody. I want to keep it a secret.”

Thomas J. Pliura

Veterans Day

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, there will be opportunities for you to remember our veterans. Join in the events being held in Pagosa to celebrate this day.

Kick off the morning with a pancake breakfast from 7:30-11 a.m. at the Community Center hosted by Mr. White’s eighth-grade class. Then, at 11 a.m. come out to the new pedestrian bridge in Town Park for a dedication ceremony.

At 5 p.m., return to the American Legion where a silent auction will take place, and hors d’oeuvres will be served. There will be some terrific pieces in the auction, such as a guitar, patriotic items, jewelry, artwork and outdoor accessories, to name a few. The auction is being held to raise money for the 2010 Wounded Warrior Project, to be held the first week of June in Pagosa. Five families will be brought to Pagosa to experience the beauty of the area, and the warmth and generosity of the people.

At 7 p.m. a candlelight service to “Remember Their Sacrifice” will be conducted in the parking lot at the American Legion Building on Hermosa Street. Join us for this moving service.

If you have any questions about any of the events, call Autumn at the Chamber at 264-2360. Join us as we honor those who have helped preserve our freedom.

Membership

We welcome several new members to the Chamber this week.

We start off with SonnyLight, a new “Lone Eagle” company. Owned by Leo “Sonny” Hayes, SonnyLight manufactures an indoor kitchen garden that grows herbs, vegetables and flowering plants year round. The garden utilizes superior LED grow lights to cultivate plants up to three times faster than the competition, while using 70 percent less energy. There is also “Grow Logic” software and selectable light wavelength to match the plant type providing the right light for the right season of the plant’s life, whether germinating, growing and/ or budding and flowering. SonnyLight will be shipping their first round of products late this year. For more information, visit their Web site, www.sonnylightLED.com, or call (877) 204-5435.

Mary Kay customers will be pleased to know that Cristin Robertson is here in Pagosa to provide you with one of the bestselling brands of skin care in the US. They offer a 100-percent customer satisfaction guarantee and provide a full range of beauty products as well as makeovers. Call Cristin at 759-8391, or visit her Web site, www.MaryKay.com/cerobertson.

Totally renovated and in a great location, we welcome The Loft at the Metro. This four-bedroom unit is atop the historic Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Pagosa. A beautiful master bath, full kitchen, and 55-inch HD TV are only some of the amenities that visitors can experience. The location is also excellent for shopping, dining and soaking. We welcome Nettie Wood and this unique rental property. Book it now for the upcoming holidays by calling Jacque at 946-7636.

From out of the area we also have Durango.com joining our chamber. Durango.com is an online advertising source promoting hotels, real estate, things to do, events and more for the San Juan area. It provides vacation planning information to Durango and surrounding area visitors. Tap into markets outside the Pagosa area to attract visitors to your business in Pagosa. Call Jessica Bookstaff or Katie Lee at 865-584-2602 to find out more about advertising with Durango.com.

Our renewals this week include: Ponderosa Lumber Company; Pagosa Baking Company; the Springs Spa and Salon; Fairway Mortgage; the Pagosa Springs Welcoming Service; Lauren Cohen with the Life Expansion Center; and The League of Women Voters. From out of the area, we have Flexible Flyers Rafting in Durango.

Mark your calendars for the Parade of Stores event happening in Pagosa the first weekend in December — Dec. 4 and 5. You won’t want to leave town to shop on this weekend! Not only will more than 35 participating stores have great gifts, prizes and discounts, it is a no tax shopping weekend at these stores and you can enter to win a Super Pagosa Package! Stay tuned for details.