#AGILE
Greg Hatten

July 19, 2017

Written by Miles Ramsay | Photos by Alysa Ramsay

CHARACTER TRAIT: Agile

DEFINITION: Mentally quick; also, moving quickly and lightly with grace.

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but not Greg Hatten. This guy has lived nine lives – as a sales manager, brand developer, marketer, entrepreneur, and even as a professional wilderness guide in his handmade wooden boats. But all of Greg’s adventures have deep roots right here in St. Joseph. Meow!

His heart rate increases simultaneously with the speed of the current. With an oar in each hand, he begins to maneuver his wooden drift boat between the daunting rocks jutting out of the perilous rapids of the Rogue River. Icy cold water splashes his face and arms as he further engages in this chess game of man vs. nature – always thinking three moves ahead and treating each stroke with great care and purpose.

St. Joseph native Greg Hatten says the drift boats he builds and explores the Pacific Northwest waterways with are specifically designed for quickness and maneuverability.

“It’s kind of like a sports car for the river. Like a Ferrari on the water.”

What started as a hobby has turned into a decade of a professional guide service. A couple dozen times a year, Greg takes groups on wilderness explorations with his company, Wooden Boat Adventures.

Greg is fascinated by how these two geographies are linked together – Northwest Missouri and Oregon.

“To know that I’m running rivers 1,500 miles away and to know that it all started with these guys coming right through my backyard when I lived here – there’s a romance there that fascinates me.”

He is quick to point out that the history of the Western half of our country started right here in St. Joseph — from the Astorians camping at the mouth of the Nodaway, to trailblazers like John Day and Donald MacKenzie passing through our backyards. He says the people in Oregon know it too.

“You can tell people out there you’re from St. Joe and they get it instantly. We don’t take enough credit for that. Two hundred years ago, this was THE place.”

Greg’s adventurous spirit goes well beyond running rivers in wooden boats. His career away from the great outdoors has also been a wild ride.

Greg started with a 20-year stint at Hallmark, eventually being placed in charge of sales for the Western half of the U.S. From there, he made a move across the country and was placed second in command for retailer Bi-Mart.

Greg has taken the wealth of information and wisdom he’s acquired over the years and now helps businesses with branding, product launch, packaging, pricing, and pretty much anything else you can think of in the retail space. His list of clients is impressive – Safeway, Kroger, Jelly Belly, Mossy Oak, Martha Stewart Coffee, and waaaaaaay too many more to list here.

When someone asks what he does for a living, Greg smiles and replies,

“I solve problems by adding value.”

Greg is well aware that great careers are founded upon great education. He praises the St. Joseph School District for setting he and his children on the path to success.

“The schools here are great. What I really like are the teachers who have similar values. That appreciation grew on me as we got exposed to other places. It’s something that we don’t give enough credit to in this area – the teachers are great and the school system is very, very good.”

While Greg is plenty busy with a half dozen projects going on at once, he continues to give generously of his time to our community. He is frequently present to coach and contribute at the weekly gathering of professionals and entrepreneurs known as “Cup of Joe.”

Greg sees a great future for St. Joseph and says his involvement in Cup of Joe is his way of giving back to the community that has given so much to him.

“I think we’re just getting started. It’s a canvas that we’ve got here and I can’t wait to see what happens….It’s a very nurturing environment.”

When asked about his advice for pioneering young business entrepreneurs, Greg echoes the advice of many on the journey prior to him.

“If you can find a way to add value in what you do, you will always be in demand.”

#INVESTING

No community is separated from homelessness and poverty, regardless of location or size. It’s a complex and universal challenge involving poverty, mental health and numerous community partners. In St. Joseph, residents and leaders are taking a very focused approach to real solutions toward homelessness, with most of these efforts geared toward the Imagine 2040 “invest in people” goal.

#PRESERVATION

St. Joseph is a city of stories. Like historic towns across the country, there are blocks of amazing homes, business buildings and neighborhoods. Founded in 1843, St. Joseph’s location along the Missouri River and national mid-point created an economic and residential boom fueled by Westward expansion, transportation and communication industries.

#STRONG

What does the road to a dream look like? If it’s a sports dream, there are early, dark mornings – lacing up shoes before any lights flicker on the block. There are late nights, pushing past physical and emotional limits, even when it seems out of reach. There are countless sacrifices at every turn. And there are often amazing mentors and coaches, right there to say, “We don’t quit. Not today.”

#EXPRESSIVE

The drive throughout downtown has become more colorful in the last five years, thanks to the creation of larger than life murals that convey the unique spirit of St. Joseph.

#LUCKY

Games of chance and dining establishments have been a part of St. Joseph, Missouri’s uncommon character since the earliest settlers gathered to let off some steam and gamble on optimistic odds.