In a way, Ian Guthrie’s business venture started with an epic cross-country trip.
With his dog Zealand for company, he flew to Oregon to buy a 1990 Chevrolet P30 Step Van, then drove the rig back across the country to St. Augustine Beach.
At speeds that never topped 55 mph, the trek took more than 40 days to complete and included engine trouble that left the two stranded for 18 hours in the middle of Death Valley, California, in 109-degree heat.
Still, Guthrie says, the van was worth trip. The Chevy is the heart of his startup — Drifters Beach & Bike Rentals — a company that lets out-of-towners rent items such as bikes, beach chairs and tents online and have them delivered by Guthrie in his van to a beach house or condo.
Money is not the only motivation for Guthrie, who is the company’s only employee, but also to put perfectly good items to use and keep them out of the landfill.
“A lot of the motivation (for the business) came from seeing a lot of tourists coming through year after year and it getting busier and busier,” said Guthrie “But the downside of that is this onetime use [of items] that has been going on.
“We see a lot of the chairs, coolers or tents that are just [bought and used] for a couple of days. People use them and trash them and we have big piles at each beach entrance.”
Rental items include single-speed, 3-speed and 7-speed beach cruisers, beach toys, two types of beach chairs, shade tents, games and coolers.
“Drifters is balance between paying attention to detail and making is as easy as possible — just keeping it simple,” said Guthrie.
Customers visit his website, www.driftersrentals.com, select the desired items and a date for delivery, then Guthrie, Zealand and the van drop the items off and return later to pick them up.
“The typical customer is a family or young couple who have rented a vacation home or condo, so we have the items locked up either in the garage or somewhere on the property ready to go for them when they arrive,” said Guthrie. “We work to make it as easy as possible.”
Guthrie, who has only been in business a short while, started Drifters as a way to help visitors and enjoy the beach lifestyle for himself. A surfer, he can almost always be found somewhere near the water.
“In five years with Drifters, I would like to see myself with a few more of these (vans) running around doing a lot more deliveries with a solid product,” said Guthrie. “And potentially cutting down on that one-time use and trash runs.”