Voices of Small Biz: Andrew
What motivated you to start a whale watching company?
Five Star was started in 1985 and when our original owners decided to retire in 2017, I decided it would be a great opportunity to become the owner. I had been part of the management team since 2006 and wanted to see the legacy of responsible Whale Watching and Marine Eco-tours continue.
Since purchasing the company in 2017 I have trebled the fleet and made large contributions to various conservation efforts and donations to the local community, which I strongly believe is the duty of a strong local business. Giving back is a strong part of the company’s mantra!
What has been your biggest inspiration?
Helping to protect, conserve and educate people about the incredible Marine Life in the Salish Sea is my biggest inspiration.
As a young man, I loved to watch Sir David Attenborough narrate encounters with wildlife all over the world. I model our tour narration on the incredible work of Sir David.
What is the most rewarding part of working in this industry?
Introducing people from all over the world to the wonders of the Salish Sea, and knowing we are making a difference through education and conservation efforts, is the ultimate reward. Seeing the look of awe and excitement on a young child’s face when they see a whale in its natural environment for the first time is still wonderful to experience! People ask me all the time if watching this magnificent wildlife ever gets boring and my answer is “No, never!” I know I am very lucky to do what I do every day.
What are the main challenges you have faced?
The main challenge is to adapt to the ever-changing marine environment and government legislation. We have taken these challenges in our stride and continue to adapt whenever needed.
Why did you choose this location? What do you like about it?
We have an excellent location as part of the Empress Hotel. We are minutes away from most major attractions and hotels in downtown Victoria and enjoy a great relationship with other local businesses.
What are your favourite places to eat/shop/play downtown?
There are so many incredible places to eat in the downtown core and we like to visit them all when we get the chance, especially our close neighbours such as Browns Social House and, of course, Tea at the Empress.
We are a company that likes to promote local businesses.