Board Meetings Take to the WaterBy Jane Whitttington on June 26th, 2017 /
Michigan is known as the “water wonderland” and with good reason: there are 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, and, of course, there are the Great Lakes as well. Since we’re lucky enough to live here, taking advantage of the state’s lakes—large and small—is almost a requirement. Paul Boynton has dialed into that wet, wavy, watery culture in a unique way. His business, Board Meetings, has introduced a new dimension to parties, celebrations, events, and, yes, even meetings.
Boynton says, “I was born and raised in Michigan and was a water baby practically from day one. After I graduated from Grand Valley State University, I moved to Florida and worked in sales for a major mobile device company. When I was there, one of the new hires I was mentoring was a surfer, and he invited me to go surfing with him. From the very first time, I was hooked! So I added surfing to my list of fun activities—which included skiing, snowboarding, and all kinds of water sports.”
He continues, “When we took time off to go surfing, we’d say we had a ‘board meeting’, a term that started with the surfer culture.”
Boynton says that his career at the time was quite high-stress and demanding. Surfing was a way for him to, as he says, “stay sane”.
Paddle boarding uses a board similar to a surf board, but it is slightly longer, thicker and wider. People can paddle board on their knees, using their hands to paddle, or they can stand up and use an oar to move through the water.
Boynton says, “I feel that being on the water can be a spiritual experience. There’s a real connection between people and water, and that experience is very therapeutic.”
A Huffington Post article quotes marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, who says, “We all have a ‘blue mind’, a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a since of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment that’s triggered when we’re in or near water.”
When Boynton moved back to Michigan four and a half years ago, he continued to work in sales. His boss had a boat on Reeds Lake and, as a reward for good job performance, would take his employees to Rose’s on Reeds Lake (a popular East Grand Rapids restaurant which is part of the Gilmore Group of restaurants in West Michigan). They’ve have a few appetizers and a drink and then take to the water. At the end of their time on the water, they would go back to Rose’s for dinner. That gave Boynton an idea.
Boynton says, “I thought that doing something on the water could be a great employee engagement or team building experience with a wellness component. Paddle boarding would be the ideal way to do that. More than that, it could be a fun thing for bachelor and bachelorette parties, family get-togethers, and events of all kinds.”
His idea has grown from there. Partnering with the Gilmore Group, he offers Board Meetings at three of their restaurants, Rose’s on Reeds Lake, Blue Water Grill, and Bostwick Lake Inn, all situated on lakes. He tested out the idea and took the big leap to quit his job and run Board Meetings full time. As the business has grown, he has added partners, John and Jess Wheeler. John is a fellow snowboard and skiing instructor at Cannonsburg, and Jess is a yoga instructor. Adding the component of yoga has introduced a whole new side to Board Meetings. They now offer beach yoga and even yoga on paddleboards. In the winter, Boynton and his partners will focus on the yoga side of the business.
Boynton says, “I love sharing my passion for sports and for being on the water. It is just such a positive experience for everyone, and I am happy that I’ve been able to create a company that gives me so much satisfaction and brings so much joy to people.”
For more information, visit their website at www.boardmeetingsmi.com.