By Mary O’KEEFE
On Friday, the parking lot at Montrose Travel was a picture perfect winter wonderland with snow, sleds and lots of kids wearing hats and mittens.
The unusual winter weather was courtesy of Montrose Travel and its seventh annual Snowpalooza.
Seven years ago Joe McClure, Montrose Travel president, had the idea for a fun, team-building activity for those who worked at the travel company and their families.
“The most fun part of this is to see the kids,” McClure said.
Every year, McClure said, he gets to see kids who have never touched snow get to experience sledding down a bunny slope.
“You see the kids light up [with excitement] and then the parents light up and take a sled and go down the hill,” he added. “Everyone has fun.”
The company orders 50 tons of snow, brought in by Entertainment Contractor, to create a bunny slope perfect for sledding. In addition there is a barbecue and, of course, bonfires for roasting the gooiest marshmallows.
“It’s all about family bonding and team-building,” he said. “No one works for Montrose Travel, they work with us.”
The company sponsors many events that create a team-building atmosphere and recognizes employees.
“You spend a lot of time at work,” McClure said. “At the end of the day if you have happy people and [like the] people you work with then they are going to make your customers happy. If your customers are happy then you are going to grow your business.”
This philosophy seems to be working quite well for Montrose Travel.
“When we started this [company] in 1990 we were a $4 million business,” McClure said. “We are going to hit $270 million this year.”
Montrose Travel is one of the largest travel management companies in the United States.
“And we are housed in the little town of Montrose,” he added. “We love the community of Montrose. [Montrose] has been wonderful to us. It is one of the last little Mayberrys left in all of Los Angeles.”
As Friday night came to an end, McClure walked around talking to employees and their kids. He laughed every time someone went sledding down the snowy slope. Then a snowball came out of nowhere and hit him. He turned just as a small boy giggled and ran away. McClure grabbed a handful of snow and smiled at the little boy, who was still giggling. From that point it was difficult to tell who was having more fun … McClure or the kids.