Boulder City - The Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City - The Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Spotlight on Business
by Ev Chase

SkyDive Las Vegas
Or Flying Tandem Without Wings

All sizes and shapes, men and women, all preparing to jump, as the trite phrase states, "out of a perfectly good airplane."

That the plane will fly and the parachute will open, is taken for granted (or better be), but when one is speaking about business, that's another story and it's not always as easy as, well, jumping out of a plane.

Many business people make success sound easy, once they are successful, and make suggestions to follow in achieving success -- location, location, location to name a few. In addition, a unique product, and knowledge of your product, is always helpful.

A sky diving business is no different, which became evident in my discussion with Mike Hawkes, President and owner of SkyDive Las Vegas.

"I started in North Las Vegas in 1991 and quickly found out NLV was not a good place to run a sky diving operation," Hawkes says. "The area was growing so fast we had to keep moving the landing area."

Housing tracks, according to Mike, kept growing and covering the area used for parachute jump landings. (Location, location, location).

In 1993, while looking for another location to stage his operation, Hawkes found his way to Boulder City where he began discussing his ideas with George Forbes, City Manager, and Jeff Patlovich, Community Development Director.

From last months article,we know Forbes likes trains so why not planes (and automobiles to bring visitors to BC). George, Jeff, etal, developed a site for SkyDive Las Vegas (an oxymoron to say the least) at the Boulder City Airport. Mike made a very smooth landing and the rest of the story, as they say, is called success.

Hawkes, 48, is not an overnight success story, and certainly not new to jumping out of an airplane. He took his first jump in Antiock California when he drove his brother to the airport for a jump. Mike was talked into jumping with him.

"That was in 1978," Mike says, "I made my first jump in army surplus equipment. They were round parachutes which were no good for the army, but they wanted me to jump with them."

Round parachutes come down like a "ton of bricks," Hawkes says, "but we use these big square parachutes which land pretty soft."

Mike didn't jump right into the sky diving business after his first float to earth. He was a painting contractor for 15 years as well as working for other sky dive operation before he made the decision to start his own business.

"I thought I could run a better sky diving operation then people I had been working for," Mike says. (knowledge of your product).

In his travels around the country he found Las Vegas didn't have a professional operation.

When Hawkes started his first Boulder City business in 1993 he opened as a full service well rounded drop zone, for experienced jumpers. Since then, he adapted his business to what has worked best for the area.

SkyDive Las Vegas provides their service to more first timers than any other skydiving center in the country. The doors are open seven days a week, 363 days a year, taking off only Christmas and New Years day.

"The tourists appreciate it because they come to Las Vegas to do wild and crazy things," Hawkes says.

"They don't always have skydiving centers next to where they live and have a wonderful opportunity to see the view of our beautiful area."

From three miles above the Boulder City Airport, I'm told, one can see Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the Colorado River, and Las Vegas casinos. (Now that's a view! But I'll stick with the plane.)

Hawkes says they jump anywhere from 20 to 30 first timers a day.

"We specialize in first time tandem jumping," Mike says. "We have fine tuned ourselves to what we want to do. We have specified our market and our niche -- and that's what we want."

That niche, although specified, includes all makes and models such as the smiling faces in the photos.

While Brad Appleby, the Art Director of Boulder City, The Magazine, was among the largest in the group (photo kneeling in front) Robbie Maboy, was the smallest. Only in stature, I might add. (Third from left in white shirt, in photo below.)

Maboy, who works for the Forest Service in the Mt. Charleston area, was about to make her first jump.

"It was a gift for my 30th birthday," Robbie said, "and I wanted to do something to get a thrill."

Was she scared? Naw! She only had one concern. She hoped she would have her eyes open when they took her picture.

As for Mike Hawkes -- does he have a unique product, or what?

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