Amid change, Galvin helps carve a niche

'We have a high-touch, high-service business model.'

By Bridget Botelho
Contributing Writer
Though many would-be travelers swapped their exotic vacations for “staycations” during the Great Recession, Collette Vacations grew its tour-operation business significantly, thanks in part to the strategic vision of Chief Financial Officer John Galvin. More

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Amid change, Galvin helps carve a niche

'We have a high-touch, high-service business model.'

PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
CLOSE TO HOME: Collette Vacations Chief Financial Officer John Galvin joined the company 22 years ago, when it had $63.2 million in revenue. Last year, it had $172.2 million.
By Bridget Botelho
Contributing Writer
Posted 4/9/12

Though many would-be travelers swapped their exotic vacations for “staycations” during the Great Recession, Collette Vacations grew its tour-operation business significantly, thanks in part to the strategic vision of Chief Financial Officer John Galvin.

When Galvin joined Pawtucket-based Collette more than 22 years ago, there were only about 40 employees and 12 office locations – mainly travel agencies. Since then, the company has successfully evolved its approach to travel and tourism, and grown in a big way.

Galvin’s eye for new financial opportunities and foresight into the travel market helped the third-generation, family-owned business grow revenue from $63.2 million in 1990 to $172.2 million in 2011 – a compound average annual growth rate of 4.9 percent.

Over the years, Galvin has also maintained a debt-free balance sheet, with assets exceeding $70 million and more than 84 percent highly liquid assets.

“His great financial acumen” makes Galvin one of the state’s top CFOs, said Collette Vacations President and CEO Daniel J. Sullivan Jr., who nominated Galvin for the honor. “His stewardship of Collette Vacations’ finances has helped make us one of the most financially stable travel companies in the USA,” Sullivan added.

Galvin helped the company grow its gross income from $117,864,000 in 2009 to $184,934,000 in 2010 and $178,634,000 in 2011. Under his leadership, the company also added about 180 employees since 2009, bringing its employee base to nearly 550. Collette also expanded the business into new areas of the country, plus Canada and the United Kingdom.

Collette could not have grown its business without leaders who are willing to change course, which the company has done many times since its beginnings in 1918.

When travel websites gained popularity, for instance, Galvin and other company executives knew that brick-and-mortar travel agencies would suffer. They moved away from that model and focused on offering unique tours that consumers can’t get with a few mouse clicks, he explained.

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