Mr Hendrickson opened a new chapter in his business life when on Friday February 22 he herded some of his friends, tourism industry colleagues and two staffers from the Development Bank to board a vessel sailing off Port Zante Marina for a Kittitian Sunset Cruise.
Better known by his colleagues as Spuddy, Mr Hendrickson is the proud owner of the tour company Caribbean Journey Mastrs which shuttles tourists from cruise ships and hotels to memorable scenic tours of St. Kitts. And when the tourists want to go on short cruises along the St. Kitts coastline, he contracts the job to boat/catamaran owners.
But the mission on Friday February 22 was different. These were not tourists nor was he leading them to board a contracted boat. The Kittitian tour operator led them on to a 45-foot catamaran named Daddy’s Girl, whose owner is Mr Troy ‘Spuddy’ Hendrickson — his vessel.
“As the tourism product grows, year to year, there has been need to diversify and be multifaceted in terms of what we do here on St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Mr Hendrickson. “To be exact through the assistance of the Development Bank we have done it and have been able to have our staff employed year round.”
He explained that since he ventured out on his own in 2004 following the launch of Caribbean Journey Mastrs, after having worked for TDC Group of Companies, he had been able to buy several large Coaster buses that have propelled him to the top of the tourism industry through loans from the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“We are located in Frigate Bay, which is pretty much the heart of the tourist district here on St. Kitts,” commented Mr Hendrickson. “Some of our major contractors would be the cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Windstar Cruises, where we offer them — I would say — unique exchange of money for services in terms of tours on the island.
“Some of our best sellers would be Snorkel St. Kitts, the Essential St. Kitts, which is a historical tour of the island and of course Rain Forest St. Kitts which takes them off road into the interior of the island. We have certified guides. Everybody is certified by the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, which is the leading body as far as tourism in St. Kitts is concerned.”
Business Support Officer at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mrs Vernitha Maynard, says that Mr Hendrickson was among the first clients of the bank to have benefitted from the Stanford Empowerment Fund that was being executed by the bank where he received a loan to buy a bus.
“He purchased one bus, and then the fleet grew bigger,” observed Mrs Maynard. “He came back and he acquired another loan to purchase more buses and expand the business. Troy is a very determined and ambitious person. He has a lot of good ideas and those ideas have proved to be very successful on his part.
“The business went from a dream to a reality and beyond because he is still growing and as the days go by and as the months go by you could see that he is evolving from somebody with just an idea to a business owner, and a proud business owner, one that people could look up to. I would say that he is a role model in business.”
It therefore did not take the bank staff off guard when Mr Hendrickson approached them last year with an even bigger dream. He had indentified a 45-foot catamaran in the USA, which he wanted to buy and bring down to St. Kitts to expand his tour business. He termed it the fourth phase of his Caribbean Journey Mastrs.
“Since I started the business in the 2004, we always contracted the snorkel side of the business to some of the local boating operators,” noted Mr Hendrickson. “With a vessel as part of our enterprise we can now cater even for the local people who want to go out for pleasure sunset cruises or even hold parties or even hiring it as a water taxi.”
The vessels, which has been renamed Daddy’s Girl and is US Coast Guard certified to carry 49 passenger, was built in Florida in 2007. Mr Hendrickson bought it from its owners in Michigan through a loan provided by the Development Bank.
“We started the purchase process in March last year,” said Mr Hendrickson. “The vessel should have been here since about the 14th of December. We actually did not get the vessel to St. Kitts until the 10th of January. That was a considerable delay, but at the end of the day it worked well.”