I AM UAA: Candice McDonald

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

I AM UAA: Candace McDonaldB.B.A. Business Management '05
M.S. Global Supply Chain Management '08
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Fun Fact: Attributes her entrepreneurial spirit to her father

Entrepreneurship is in the blood of the McDonald family. College of Business and Public Policy (CBPP) alumna Candice McDonald started Salmon Berry Tours, a travel tour business in Anchorage, in 2005. Her father, Harry, owns Carlile Transportation, and two of her three siblings also own their own business. "I was raised to come up with my own ideas and ways to solve problems," she said.

When Candice started school at UAA she was unsure of her major. After two years of school and a few breaks in her college career, she ultimately decided on business management.

Multiple CBPP professors were supportive and advised Candice in her business creation. "It's impressive the long histories the professors have in business. They have real-life knowledge and experience, and are really successful." Candice also acknowledges the advice she got from the Alaska Small Business Development Center.

Working for a cruise line led to Candice's decision to start a tour company. "I love showing off Alaska. I always try to get distant friends and family to visit so I can give them a tour. That's how I knew I would love this business."

But it was Candice's need for independence that really motivated her to be an entrepreneur. "I could never work a normal job because I always wanted to be the boss and had the feeling I could do it better," she said. Her strong work ethic is instrumental in her business's success. "It was tough in the beginning, but my hard work grew Salmon Berry Tours into a sustainable company."

In 2005, Candice started her business with one employee-herself. Now, she has eight seasonal employees and four full-time employees who stays on year-round; the business has shown substantial growth since its inception. Candice has several partnerships to give tourists the vacation they're looking for, whether it be tours of Talkeetna and Seward or just about anywhere in Alaska. "Salmon Berry Tours is really tapping into the full vacation market now. We don't only do day tours-we help people from start to finish with accommodations, transportation and activities of all types."

Although it took Candice 10 years to earn her B.B.A. in business management, she went back for a master's in global supply chain management. "Education gets more valuable with age. Though, I've done well without it, more knowledge never hurts!"

Candice exudes determination and confidence, but her inspiration, she said, comes from her entrepreneurial father. "He's been a business leader since young adulthood, and goes forward without fear, backed by his own education and experiences. He is always encouraging me to do more and go further."

As sole proprietor of Salmon Berry Tours, Candice has great advice for future business-owners: "Understand accounting and finance and know how to do it yourself, even if you have employees handling your books. It's the key to making money and ultimately creating a successful business."

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