Here is the story. Back in the day…1973 my older cousins Kent and Colin Hungerpiller decided to “take the plunge” and Shore Enterprises was born. Having worked in Myrtle Beach as lifeguards, they figured there was a need and it was time to start the first Beach Service on Hilton Head Island. Kent and Colin met with the owners and managers of the Hilton Head Inn (now Marriott Grande Ocean) and the Adventure Inn (now Vacant Land) and agreed to provide lifeguard, trash, and emergency personnel in front of the resorts on the beach. In return for services rendered, they were allowed to rent umbrellas, floats, and sailboats to the guests and store the equipment on the resorts’ property at night.
“Competition made America great!” After one year of operation, Dick Ryan moved down from Myrtle Beach and opened up his stand and services just north on the beach at the Holiday Inn. Things went well for all, until the third year when Dick made an offer to my cousins that they couldn’t refuse and became sole owner in 1975.
The following year, 1976, I graduated High School and came to Hilton Head Island for the summer with my younger cousin, David. Upon arriving, David gave me the Grand Tour of the island and beaches…I was in awe. Having grown up going to Myrtle Beach with all the neon lights, billboards, and traffic, I could not believe a place as beautiful as Hilton Head could be anywhere on Earth.
So as I attended Wofford College, I returned to Hilton Head Island each summer to spend my days on the beach finding lost children, picking up trash, keeping our swimmers safe, treating jellyfish stings (with Adolfs meat tenderizer), sunburns, and renting umbrellas, chairs, floats, and sailboats.
Upon graduating from Wofford in 1980, I was honored by Dick offering me the job to become the first full time Beach Patrol Manager for his growing business. More hotels and resorts were opening, HHI was being discovered around the world, and more locations, equipment, and services (trash and cleanup) grew as well.
After only a few months of managing the business for Dick, once again I was honored when he offered me an opportunity to own a part of Shore Enterprises. I will share the funny story and how hard work and being in the right place at the right time can be a wonderful thing. One day Dick called me into his office and said he wanted to talk to me. I sat down a little nervous and hoping I had not done something wrong. Again to my surprise it was the total opposite. Dick told me he appreciated my hard work and dedication. It truly was appreciated in that with very little exaggeration, I always seemed to work 6 ½ to 7 days a week, 12 and 14 hour days! Whew! Anyhow, the next words out of his mouth were a shock and somewhat funny. He said, “Tad, I want to offer you a chance to buy, own, and operate our sailboat operation and continue your role as manager of Shore Enterprises.” For a few seconds I sat in silence. Why in the world would he suggest such a thing? I said, “Dick, I think, I thank you. But I don’t have any money and I don’t know diddly about sailboats!” He said, “I will make you a deal you can’t refuse and you will learn fast.”
So, he made the offer to buy 15 sailboats, one small chase boat and some spare parts for ,000. I needed to come up with ,500 and he would finance the rest over a 5 year period. Scared to death and not knowing what to do, the following week my older cousin Colin came to visit. I told Colin my offer he said he would kick my behind if I did not accept the offer and sign the contract. I said, “Colin, where in the world can I find ,500 and ,000 is a lot of money!” Long story short, my family helped me with the down payment and I became the proud owner of the sailboats. The first year out of the box, my hard work and risk paid off. In 1981 I truly could not believe that my sailboats had netted me a gross profit of about ,000! The next 4 years got better and better and my fleet grew to 75 boats!
So after 5 years of blood, sweat and tears, my business was paid for. 1986 was my first year operating free and clear. Blessed once again with a very profitable year, I was offered another deal I could not refuse. I had purchased my business for ,000, profited well every year, and then sold it in 1986 for ,000!
Not knowing what was next in my life, I found myself being recruited to sell real estate on Hilton Head Island at Palmetto Dunes with Dunes Marketing Group. I told Bill Baldwin I enjoyed working with customers but I knew nothing about real estate. He said I would learn fast…HA! Here I am today, working hard, doing well, and serving my customers.
Finally, life is always interesting and sometimes there are unusual twists. Today Dick Ryan and I are still partners but we are now in the real estate business. Imagine, more than thirty years together on the beach at Hilton Head Island!