KELOWNA — Listening to Andy Schwab talk about his plans for the Fintry Queen, it’s hard not to get caught up in his enthusiasm.
“I'm feeling very confident,” says Schwab, president of the Okanagan Lake Boat Company, which owns the vessel and is proposing to resurrect the former car ferry and dinner cruise ship in a new venture. “We’ve looked at five different business models. We’ve got the price of fuel going way up. We’ve chopped our passenger projections back. I’m pretty confident, based on the history of the ship, that we can meet those numbers.”
Schwab’s company, through the B.C. Investment Capital program, is offering $1 shares in the company that he says will double in value in five years and when combined with the generous tax credit offered under the program, offers would-be investors a potential return of 23 per cent.
“At the end of the term, what we’re guaranteeing is you will double your investment basically,” Schwab added today, Feb. 13.
What he’s not so keen to talk about is that there is no real guarantee — investors can also lose their initial investment should the company go under although they would retain the 30 per cent tax credit regardless of whether the company stays afloat.
“There’s always that chance, I suppose,” said Schwab, who leased and operated the Fintry Queen for two years when it was still moored on Kelowna’s waterfront and offering dinner cruises and special event bookings.
In the information package he is sending to would-be investors, Schwab says the Fintry Queen carried over 30,000 passengers a year during his tenure, before losing its operating certification with Transport Canada in 2001. He compares it to the Kettle Valley Railway tour which operates on an old railway line outside Summerland.
“It’s hard to find, operates only two trips a day five days a week, with some long weekends thrown in and it consistently does 27,000 to 28,000 passengers a year.”
Kelowna residents, who can recall the trials and tribulations of the Fintry Queen over the years, would be forgiven for questioning his numbers, but Schwab won’t be swayed.
“The Fintry Queen has a proven track record,” he said. “In the days before the internet and social media, it would do 28,000 passengers a year, as well.”
The Fintry Queen remains moored in Sutherland Bay and Schwab said improvements made by previous owners means the ship is mechanically sound, lacking only a fresh paint job, a new pier and a number of permits before commencing operations.
His plan for the $600,000 he hopes to raise, is to construct a new pier on Penticton’s Okanagan Lake waterfront, as well as improvements to the ship over the five-year investment period.
Schwab said that although it is a private company, the rules of the B.C. Investment Capital Investment program allow him to offer shares.
“It is a B.C. Securities Commission-regulated program with reporting requirements almost like a public company,” he said.
What he doesn’t have is breathing room, citing a March 1 deadline to satisfy the requirements of the investor program.
“Time is of the essence here. We’ve got two weeks to pull that investment together,” he said. “Sometimes there needs to be some urgency for people to act and we want to use that to our advantage if possible. We’ve had a lot of interest from individuals over the last year but getting people interested is one thing and getting people to commit is another.”
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