Q&A with Will Volpert, Indigo Creek Outfitters
1. What was the primary driver for you to build a family outfitter business?
When I started Indigo Creek in 2011 the primary driver was to offer meaningful outdoor experiences for families. In my own youth I enjoyed countless days in wilderness areas and on wild rivers, and the impression these places had left on me is something I hope to share with many others. Nowadays, getting outside and away from wifi, the grid, and non-stop devices and technology is so important in discovering ourselves and connecting meaningfully with the people who mean the most to us.
2. What was the turning point for Indigo Creek?
Expanding our operation to offer multi-day trips on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River in 2015 was a catalyst for significant growth and was a pivoting moment for the business. We’ve expanded on our multi-day operation to now offer a wide variety of overnight options.
3. What inspires you and your family in the outfitter industry?
Knowing that we play a role in a family’s “best part of summer,” means a lot to us. And having our own special moments with our kids gives us the drive to provide similar experiences for our guests.
4. How did Indigo Creek respond to the pandemic?
In a variety of ways, but primarily through collaboration with other outfitters we developed an operating plan and employee protection plan that we utilized throughout the summer. We also worked with local, regional, and national trade organizations to develop best practices and create communication lines between policy makers and those with their paddles in the water.
5. What did you learn through this unprecedented time?
The twists and turns of 2020 were a reminder that there are only so many things you can control in any business environment. As a small business owner it is easy to become overwhelmed with problems beyond your control or problems that are simply too big to tackle alone. Identifying issues that you can have a positive impact is just the first step. Working collaboratively with others in our industry to take on these issues really helped me get our business to the point where I felt we could operate responsibly.
6. Why does Indigo Creek Outfitters believe it’s important to be a part of OOA?
As foreshadowed above, when our industries face monumental challenges it is important to have already established relationships with industry colleagues so you can tackle issues together. Organizations like OOA help foster these relationships.
7. What are some of the key things you have learned since opening Indigo Creek?
The biggest lesson I have learned in the last ten years is that a person's individual priorities and objectives will change over time, and as a small business owner, that often means the business needs to change as well. Over the last couple years, I’ve realized that it is really important to me that we are a contributor to our local community. As a business owner, I have a responsibility to uncover opportunities to engage in meaningful ways with our community - particularly our local youth and underserved communities.
8. What values do you hold as an organization?
We are passionate about sharing our backyard rivers with locals and visitors alike. We are professional, friendly, and driven to provide outstanding customer service that goes beyond expectations. And, as mentioned above, we will strive to contribute positively to our local community.
9. Tell us about one of your most crazy rafting trips, what happened?
We had a very large snake slither into a raft while we were scouting Caldera Rapid on the Upper Klamath. Caldera is a very long Class IV rapid. Partway through our six guests began screaming and lifting their feet into the air as the snake slipped over the floor of the raft throughout the entire rapid. That was pretty exciting and fortunately ended peacefully for all involved.
10. Anything else you would like us to know?
If you join us for a day trip, you’ll meet at our rafting center in Phoenix, Oregon. The town of Phoenix sustained a huge amount of damage during the Almeda Fire in 2020. We are raising funds for the Phoenix-Talent School District by selling Phoenix, Oregon themed merchandise on our website here.