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Following Your Bliss. . .Right Off a Cliff

August 19, 2013

Rodney, I’ve thought it over and I’d like you to come out and help me run Crazyman Ranch.

That’s great, Will. What did you have in mind for how we’d work this?

Well, I want to get out of the business. So, you come out and become a partner. You run the place. I think there’s probably $50,000 a year in it for you. Anything the business earns over the previous year’s returns we’ll let you own as sweat equity. We’ve been running at about a 12% growth rate.

Can you send me copies of your corporate returns so I can have my tax guy look them over?

Sure. No problem. I’ll FedEx them out today.

Looking forward to doing business with you, Will.

And just like that, I was the junior partner of Crazyman Whitewater Rafting company of Athlestane, Wisconsin. This was a big departure. I’d run software companies, but this was the first time I was attempting to run a rafting company.


It wasn’t just rafting. Crazyman also had a R.O.P.E.S course. They had cabins. They did snowmobile trips in the winter. But it was the rafting piece that was my connection.

Will and I had met through RESMARK. At RESMARK, we were developing a reservation software for rafting companies and Will was one of our customers. When RESMARK 1.0 shipped and the investors decided to take it in house, I found myself looking for my next position.

Twelve of our 13 children still lived at home. It’s no small task to move a family of fourteen people 2500 miles from Orem, UT to the North Woods of Wisconsin. The kids were hesitant. My lovely wife was hesitant. But, I was convinced this was the right move. I was the embodiment of “act in haste, repent at leisure.” But, I didn’t know it yet.

We held a garage sale as we started to pare down some of the stuff that you accumulate with a family that big. We had two pianos. . .we sold one. We had 100’s of feet of garden hose, we sold most of it. Still it took one and a half semi trailers to hold all our stuff. We packed up the trailers and the moving company would deliver them to our new address in WI in a couple weeks.

In the mean time, we took a family vacation from Utah to the Midwest. We stopped at historical sites. We stayed in motels occasionally, but more often we camped. We visited Nauvoo and Carthage, IL, where Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church was killed.


We visited Saint Joseph, MO, the starting point of the Pony Express. It was a fairly magical undertaking. We were completely oblivious to the cliff that we about to drive off of.

The first warning sign seemed like a blessing at first glance. I was taking over the operations role from a guy named Jay. Will figured it would be a win for both families if I bought Jay’s house. The closing was one of the quickest I’ve ever seen. In a small town, things can happen pretty fast.


It made sense, right? This way, we could move straight into a house and get settled. No need to move twice, from a rental to a house later.

One problem with Jay’s house. It used a wood burning furnace. We have people with allergies.

No problem, we’ll install an oil furnace as part of the purchase deal. You just need to get with the oil company to deliver a tank and fill it.

How much will that cost?

Probably about $1000.

The second problem was during my first meeting with my new partner.

I figured will start you at a slightly higher salary than Jay was making. Payday is every two weeks and you’ll be getting $3,000 a month.

Ah. . .we talked about more than that.

Yeah, I know. And if we have a good snowmobile year, you and I will split whatever’s left at the end of the year.

That didn’t exactly show up on the copies of the tax returns you showed me.

Don’t worry about those. There’s at least $50,000 that we take in that never shows up on the books. Oh and until I get some things worked out, it’s probably best that you don’t let anyone know you are a partner.

Uh oh.

This is the first of a five part series on my brief foray into the world of whitewater rafting. Tomorrow, I’ll explain how a bad situation got much, much worse.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, blogger and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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