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Industry Achievement Award

By RaftArizona • December 1, 2022

We are so happy to announce that our owners, Bruce Winter and Bill Gloeckler are winners of the George & Pamela Wendt Industry Achievement Award. They were presented the honor at the America Outdoors Association conference in Orlando.

You can read the full nomination below.

We’re not looking for returns tomorrow or the next two, three years. We’re trying to look at what’s best for our company, what’s best for the industry, and the Canyon, ten, twenty years from now… If we take all these issues and look for the best thing for the long haul, we’ll come up with the right solutions.” -Bruce Winter, Boatman’s Quarterly Review.

Bruce Winter and Bill Gloeckler have been an integral and indispensable part of the Grand Canyon rafting community since the early 1970s. They have impacted the lives of tens of thousands of Grand Canyon rafting guests throughout their 50+ years. Starting as young river guides, both Bruce and Bill grew up in the Grand Canyon. In 1986 they, along with another partner, were able to purchase the first contract for Arizona River Runners. Their impact was immediate, turning the company into one of the largest and most respected in the Grand Canyon.

Bruce and Bill constantly give back to the Grand Canyon and outdoor community by supporting the Whale Foundation, America Outdoors, and countless other organizations. They were part of the initial process of combining the Western and Eastern guide associations into what is the modern-day America Outdoors Association – seeing value in shared goals.

Bruce was one of the founding members and one of the first presidents of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association. Bruce felt it essential to unite all outfitters as one voice for local and national issues. He has always been a level-headed and thoughtful voice in the room. When Bruce talks, people listen. He also led the charge in the early 2000s for preferential right of renewal for all Grand Canyon outfitters, ensuring that the many family-owned companies like his could thrive and succeed.

Bill was one of the original craftsmen of the Cooperative Resource Management trips, partnering commercial companies with the National Park Service. Bill felt it essential to be part of and provide equipment and guides for much-needed conservation work. Bill has always had a reverence for protecting the resource of Grand Canyon. Bill is also a past president of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association. Bill fought mightly to keep the Grand Canyon accessible by continuing to allow motorboats in the 1990s.

Bruce and Bill also feel passionate about supporting river guides and office staff by continually investing in the company, equipment, and employees. Bruce and Bill were early adopters and one of the few in the industry that provides annual profit-share contributions into the retirement accounts for each full-time guide and office staff. They sponsor recertifications and training for guides, provide meals and lodging before trips, and create a fantastic work-life balance for year-round employees. Incredibly low office staff turnover and longevity of the river guides (some 20+ years) are examples of Bruce and Bill creating a positive work culture.

When people talk about critical issues, minimum wage, insurance, overtime, and then they would say, ‘Well, Bruce and Bill, what do you think about it?’ Everyone goes quiet because what they say will have value. Because they truly have the credibility and the respect of everyone in the room.” – Scott Seyler.

Every grandmother who has taken a grandchild, newlyweds on a honeymoon, or recently retired worker checking off a bucket list has felt the gentle touch of Bruce and Bill’s influence on their trip. They have shepherded Arizona River Runners and Grand Canyon Whitewater through high water and low water, boom times and recessions. But the one consistent is Bruce Winter and Bill Gloeckler’s love of the Grand Canyon, their employees, the guests, and the America Outdoors community.~

No question too small!

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