&'en though he was not present, Rykken's peers were able to view
a videotape of the surprise presentation of the award to him at his resort
by association staff. Rykken was taken off guard by the unannounced visit,
but was clearly touched by the award. Through interviews and a montage
of photos, the video offered an often lighthearted glimpse of the Rykkens'
18 years in the business.
Afterward, Rykken said the personal touch is the key to success in the
"This is a service business," Rykken said. "You build it based on personal
relationships. You get to know everybody in every cabin. We spend a lot
of time with everybody."
That philosophy has helped the resort to a very high return rate for
customers. Rykken said the resort now has second and third generations
of families returning to the resort.
Rykken was quick to credit his family for the resort's success. The.
first five years the Rykkens owned Timber Bay Lodge & Houseboats, John
still held a management level position at Control Data in the Twin Cities.
The resort was capably run by his wife, Toots, and his three sons, Ron,
Bob and Tom.
"We're very much a family oriented resort," he said. "The rapport you
develop with your customers, a lot of times It's your family that develops
it." he said. "My wife and three sons were the front line of the resort
in dealing with the people and the problems."
And in the first few years there were many problems, he said, mainly
of the physical variety affecting septic and electrical systems, boats
and motors. But the family worked through those.
"Looking back we can say we accomplished a lot," Rykken said. Making
improvements was a little like "swallowing an elephant," he said. "You
do it one bite at a time. The key is that every year you can say that you've
done something to improve."
The Rykkens added new houseboats and cabins and consistently upgraded
Bob and Tom Rykken have moved on to new careers after having put in
nearly ten years each in building the business. Toots and Ron are still
"This is one of the few businesses still run by Mom and Pop organizations,"
Rykken said. "Almost everything else has been taken over by corporate franchises.
The vast majority of resorts are family run operations."
Rykken has been active in the Minnesota Resort Association for 15 years
and served as president in 1991.
Rykken joins these past recipients of this prestigious award:
Vera Kinder, owner and operator of Forestview Lodge In Walker, received
the Minnesota Resort Association's Pioneer Award during the Association's
annual meeting and fall conference at Madden's Resort, Brainerd.
Kinder is just the sixth recipient of the award given by the Association
to resorters who have made a significant contribution to the development
of the resort industry in Minnesota.
The award was presented to Kinder by fellow resorter Dee Sullivan who
said that "Vera is so well respected. She lives and dies for the resort.
Her guests know it and her peers know it. I don't know anyone more dedicated
to the service of her guests than Vera."
Kinder and her husband, Orville, who died in 1991, bought the resort
in 1952 before electricity was available in the area. At that time the
resort, which was opened in 1924, had 17 cottages and a lodge. Over the
years, they made steady improvements, adding, besides electricity, a swimming
pool, an extra dining room and meeting room to the lodge, three new cottages,
three handicapped accessible cabins and a large marina.
Kinder, now in her 47th year in the business, has long been active in
the MRA. Forestview Lodge was one of the original resorts that chartered
the association in the 1940's.
After Kinder's husband died, her son Neill, a registered pharmicist
in California, came back to Minne-sota to help Vera run the office and
kitchen. Son Brook runs the marina and outside crew.
Kinder joins the following resorters who have received this award: Jim
Madden, Madden's on Gull Lake, in 1989; Justine Kerfoot, Gunflint Lodge,
in 1991; Goldie Pohlman, Nelson's Resort, in 1993; Eleanore Gmeinder, Gull
Lake Resort, in 1995; and John Arnold, Madden's Resort, in 1996.