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Meet Melissa Almquist of Long Beach Waterbikes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Almquist.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My husband and I purchased this waterbike rental location from my father in January 2017. Since, we’ve made quite a few exciting changes, including changing the name from Long Beach Hydrobikes to Long Beach Waterbikes. My husband, Mike. and I have always loved the ocean so this business is the perfect fit for us. To understand how we got where we are today, you have to understand a little about us and how we met.

My husband I have both lived in Long Beach, CA our whole lives. My dad owned a boat repair shop where he babysat me during the summers. Growing up, there was always some water fun to be had, whether it was boating, swimming or kayaking. Mike also grew up in Long Beach, as one of the fastest swimmers in the nation. He was water-obsessed but also loved to fix and fiddle with his bicycles in the garage with his friends. In our neighborhood, there’s an Italian style gondola rental company called The Gondola Getaway where we met and worked together almost 15 years ago; he was the manager for almost ten years and I was a gondolier for six. We both rowed these Venetian gondolas through Alamitos Bay where our waterbike company didn’t exist yet. We lost touch for a few years before we reconnected. Fittingly, we were married recently, on Alamitos Bay, in our neighborhood, right in between our new waterbike rental company and The Gondola Getaway.

Before owning Long Beach Waterbikes, I owned a business helping entrepreneurs with digital marketing. Mike owns another business helping people with commercial investments. With Mike’s knowledge of the financial and strategic end of business, my knowledge of marketing and our joint experience with businesses on the water, we’ve built a pretty cool company. I’m very proud of my father for coming up with such a fun business idea and keeping it going for 6 years before he gave us the opportunity to purchase it. I’m also very proud of Mike and I for all the hard work we’ve but it in since January, making Long Beach Waterbikes better than ever.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve never opened a business and said, “Wow! That was so easy!” I think most entrepreneurs would think someone saying that is a joke. BUT if it were easy, everyone would do it! Right?! I always say, owning a start-up business is like having a kid. It takes your money, all your time, all your attention, keeps you up at night and worries you constantly. It needs constant nurturing and support and no one can give that to it better than ma and pa!

Struggles include normal entrepreneur things like researching the best ways to automate bookings, hiring, updating phone systems, working with the city, or maintaining high quality customer service during transitions like this. One particular thing that has been difficult is compartmentalizing. Mike and I make a fantastic husband and wife business team but we have to consciously make an effort to not talk about our business 24/7. We love, love, love talking about it but we’ve found that never taking a mental break from the business and for each other can be very stressful. We have weekly business meetings to discuss changes, finances or new marketing ideas.

Long Beach Waterbikes – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We rent waterbikes in beautiful Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, CA. We are known for being one of the very few and one of the very first waterbike rental locations in the country. We have more waterbikes than any waterbike rental operation that I’ve seen. We’re also family run which I think our guests appreciate. I also love that we are able to provide such a unique experience for our peddlers. It’s so cool to sit on top of the water on a bicycle and see all of the fishes, birds, seals and even sea turtles swim around! We are also located right in front of a really popular brewery, Ballast Point. People love that!

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Like I said, Mike and I have made quite a few changes to this business since January. What we really want is to make it such a simple set up that we can duplicate the business model in any location. It turns out, this simplicity takes a lot of research and a lot of work. With that in mind, I think the proudest moment so far, was the day before Father’s Day when I closed up for the night. It was a perfect night on the water, all the new bikes were lined up, after a very busy day. The bikes were clean, the dock was clean, the booking, phone and point of sale systems worked perfectly, our guests all had fun and our staff left with record tips. It was nice to see a day start and end so smoothly and to see our vision coming true.

Pricing:

  • Single Waterbikes – $20/person/hour
  • Doubles Waterbikes = $25/person/hour

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Michael Wells Photography
Nancy Thomas Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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