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Fishing for success.

Gaston's White River Resort Is Much More Than A Fish Camp

Jim Gaston says it should be obvious to even the most casual observer -- Gaston's White River Resort at Lakeview is not just a fish camp. With 73 cottages, a restaurant, a tennis court, a gift shop, a 1.7-mile nature trail along the White River and a 3,200-foot airstrip, Gaston's is a full-service resort.

Still, if all you want to do is fish, Jim Gaston can accommodate you.

"We offer more than the bare necessities," says Gaston, the resort's owner.

With sportfishing having evolved from what was a relatively simple hobby in the 1950s to what is now a major industry, Gaston's business has grown annually.

"We offer something for the whole family," Gaston says of the resort, which is three miles below Bull Shoals Dam. "We also cater to small business meetings of 50 to 100 people."

Gaston, 50, joined his father in running the resort in 1959, a year after it opened. His father died shortly afterward, leaving Jim Gaston in charge of an operation that consisted of six boats, six cottages and 20 acres.

Expansion Begins

With a $15,000 loan from a Mountain Home bank, Gaston began to expand what is now a 300-acre resort that attracts outdoorsmen from as far away as Japan, France, Germany and Great Britain.

Gaston, whose wife and son help run the resort, recognizes the need to maintain a lasting relationship with customers. He publishes a newsletter twice a year, updating former guests, outdoor writers, travel writers and others on improvements made at the resort.

A sophisticated computer system allows Gaston to keep in touch with more than 30,000 people, all of whom receive the newsletter for up to three years following a visit.

Gaston's attention to detail has paid off with a more than 80 percent repeat business rate.

Gaston expects 1992 revenues to reach $4 million, up from 1991's $3.7 million. That figure would translate into 55,000 overnight visitors and 150,000 restaurant customers.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business of the Year: Category II; Gaston's White River Resort fishing camp
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jan 13, 1992
Words:340
Previous Article:Rolling on the river.
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