(Updated, March 18, 11:05 a.m.)
(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in an occasional series of stories that will feature the companies and industries creating jobs in the region.)
By Rebecca Keister
On a recent Friday afternoon John Galvin, chief financial officer of Pawtucket-based Collette Vacations, sat in his office and pondered a very difficult decision: Should his next Collette-sponsored trip be to Switzerland, South Africa or Peru?
“That’s kind of my current bucket list of what I’m debating. I’ve been very fortunate that we’ve been able to go to a lot of places over the years,” Galvin said. “It’s fun to see the world and have someone else pay for it.”
The travel reward Galvin was pondering, to mark his 20th anniversary as chief financial officer, recognizes a Collette employee’s hard work, dedication and loyalty. It is given at major anniversaries starting with an employee’s 15th year (Galvin took his wife and children on a 10-day Hawaiian holiday for his 15-year trip).
“In the spirit of why people [stay here], I think the travel is one of the draws that brings people and keeps them here,” he said. “I think it’s also the values of the business and the owners.”
Galvin would go on to relate many more reasons Collette, which was founded in 1918 and ranks as the oldest major tour operator in the United States, is able to boast many employees who have been awarded milestone trips.
The third-generation, family-run company, which also has offices in Mississauga, Ontario, Surrey, British Columbia, and Uxbridge, England, also is boasting another achievement.
Since the economy took a downturn five years ago, Collette Vacations not only has survived but thrived within an industry that largely was one of the first to suffer financial woes.
Overall, the company has seen a 51 percent increase in its Rhode Island employment since December 2009. There now are 342 workers filling the Pawtucket office, and there are 28 openings the company wants to fill this year.