I was born in 1962 in Suffern, NY. Grew up and moved around in New York state and north New Jersey until 3rd grade, when I then moved again to Salford, Pennsylvania. Another move within a year, and we landed in Lansdale, Pennsylvania and the Forge Gate Apartments located in the North Penn School District.
I was a boy scout, and got my first job while I lived in Forge Gate. I was a newspaper boy, delivering the Philadelphia Bulletin. At age 15, I began to work as a bus boy working 3rd shift at the Astor Diner and later at Alfalfa's restaurant. At age 16, I became the clean-up kid at a local meat packing company called T.M. Landis. I worked that job, and then eventually worked on the boning line by age 17 when I decided to take off a year between high school and college to save money.
I went to Bloomsburg State College in the summer of 1981 as a "summer Probie". This meant I had to get good grades to prove myself worthy of college. I started college in a 5 year coop program for engineering between Bloomsburg and Penn State. After a couple of years, I decided Engineering wasn't my thing, and changed my major to Journalism, to get the most business classes I could get without formally having a business major. Looking back on it, this might have been a good time to talk to an adult or a counselor, but I was already a pretty independent person, and figured I knew what I was doing.
I graduated from Bloomsburg University in 1986 with a B.A. in Mass Communications. Interviewed in NYC for a month and realized pretty quickly that "Bloomsburg" didn't carry a whole lot of weight in the Big Apple.
Meanwhile, I went back to work for the meatpacking industry, this time for a company called Mopac (or Moyer Packing). I worked second shift, and helped my brother during the day cutting grass in a little business he started during high school. Within a year, I worked my way up to having my own department at the meatpacking company, and we now had a truck and some commercial mowers for the lawn mowing gig.
Working two full time jobs started to take a toll. I was getting four hours of sleep average per night. It was decision time. I looked at meatpacking and realized that I would have to marry one of the daughters of the boss to get any further. Now they weren't bad, but I already had the best woman possible in my then girlfriend, Morgan who a few years later I convinced to be Mrs. Decoteau. So the decision was made, and I went to the landscape industry full time...plus.
Within a few years, grew that business to over a million dollars in sales. We had as many as 40 employees, 10 trucks and a 7 acre retail sales center. Those were long, hard, stressful, crazy exciting days, that I wouldn't trade for the world. But as with everything, it has a beginning, middle and end. I ended my time in the Lansdale, PA landscape business in 2000 and moved to Central PA with my wife, son and soon to be daughter.
After doing almost nothing but working to build the landscape business from 1986 until 2000, I found myself in a new place, with no job, a new house, and some time to think about what I wanted to do next. I decided that I needed to broaden my horizions from the monofocus of the past 15 years, and decided to join some community groups. As a natural alignment of my talents and interests, my attention began to settle almost exclusively into the efforts of the newly forming Montour County Recreation Authority.
A couple of years later, I was the President of the Authority, and thru a twist of fate, became the first full time, paid Director of Recreation for the Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC).
I'm proud of what I did in my tenure with MARC as Director. We ran a municipal organization like a business. My political philosophy always told me it was possible, but "experts" always told me otherwise. We set out to test the theory.
We created and successfully ran the River Towns Race Series. This amateur athletic series generated the funds to run the rest of the organization. The series iconic ability to identify the region as a place that embraces outdoor recreation, fitness and personal endeavor has become a regional source of pride to this day.
We did more than races, we managed parks and built trails and even contributed to other local charities. It grew and in time, it became evident that more help would be needed. But as an organization that never took debt or worked outside it's budget some innovative (for government at least) solutiions needed to be created. The following two items were such solutions.
When I moved to central PA, I still drove a truck that offered landscape services on the side. As a result, I got people stopping me on the street and asking me to do jobs for them. I always liked the business, so I decided to keep a limited presence in "side jobs" to my main gig in recreation.
When MARC grew to a point of needing to expand, I found a replacement for myself in a gentleman named Bob Stoudt, and I returned full time to the private sector (where I truly belong). I worked more in landscape work to make up the lost income, and then as a subcontractor for MARC to help run the event in peak times.
I primarily provided Integrated Pest Management (IPM) services via Earthscapes, utilizing my 15 plus years of experience in that business and my PA certified applicators license.
This arrangement kept MARC running profitably and allowed me to return to something I really enjoyed on a more full time basis. I bought a property on the banks of the Susquehanna River for my equipment and operation and began Riverside Adventure Company.
RIVERSIDE ADVENTURE COMPANY
Race timing, event production, volunteer scheduling, staging, logistics, permitting, electronic registration, website design, social media and email campaigns were the immediate core business of RAC, but within the first year we also added canoe and kayak rentals and guided and unguided trips to our line-up.
Today, RAC is pleased to offer in season Susquehanna River trips to groups and individuals on a daily basis, with the bulk of our business happening on weekend. We also offer a few of our own niche races in the area, and strive to push outdoor recreation forward in the area as a part of regional identity.
ADVOCACY AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM
Construction began to the RAC building in 2011, but was delayed due to various disputes with local code officers. It was this experience, coupled with various experiences throughout my business life, that motivated me to commit a good percentage of my time towards advocating for small business. I truly believe that small business is the solution to many (if not most) of societies problems. I will post regularly about this philosophy and small business topics in the blog section of this website.
I also advocate and volunteer my own time, and the time of my various business ventures toward multiple local community initiatives. RAC organizes trail building and maintenance efforts, river clean-up events, and many more activites toward improved community. If you would like to become involved, please further explore the advocacy topics of this website.
HOPE YOU ENJOYED GETTING TO KNOW ME A LITTLE. I WOULD LOVE TO PARTNER OR DO BUSINESS WITH YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION FOR ALL YOUR OUTDOOR NEEDS.