By Shane Tritsch
Lodge reels in business clients
When he wants to mix business with pleasure, Grant Brown doesn’t go in for golf, that time-honored lubricant for sealing deals and nurturing professional ties. And Brown, a financial adviser, would rather not ply his wealthy clients over slabs of beef at a Chicago steakhouse.
Instead, he likes to build business relationships on a trout stream, fly-fishing.
“If I’m going to spend money entertaining my clients, I’d rather it be for a day of fishing,” he said.
Besides his personal interest in the sport — he is past president of Chicago’s Elliott Donnelley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a conservation group — Brown said, “If you spend eight hours in a boat with someone, you’re going to get to know them, and they’re going to get to know you. You’re going to know if you like each other. You’re going to learn about a guy’s temperament, the people he knows.”
When fishing for business, Brown’s destination of choice is the Muskegon River Lodge, north of Grand Rapids near the town of Newaygo. Originally a private residence, this under-the-radar lodge is built of massive white pine logs and perches on a forested ridge with views of the Muskegon River.
Andy Kirkulis, owner of Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters, said the Muskegon River Lodge is comparable to some of the fly-fishing lodges he has visited in Montana and other trout meccas out west. Indeed, for people accustomed to the high-end amenities of such places, he said, the lodge is the Midwest’s “premier venue for a guided fly-fishing experience with accommodations.”
The lodge’s co-owner, Steve Kuieck of Grand Rapids, invested in the property in 2008 with his business partner, David DeVries, to complement Riverquest Charters, the fly-fishing guide service he founded in 1996. The idea was to offer an intimate private retreat — only single parties at a time, typically of two to 10 people, book the lodge — to Riverquest’s fishing clients.
Because no staff works on the premises, guests have the run of the place. They can cook their own meals in the well-appointed kitchen or drive 10 minutes into town for food. Or, for an additional charge, they can have chefs prepare gourmet breakfasts and dinners.
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