Desert Storm is big business for Havasu merchants

April 28, 2019

Desert Storm means many things to many people, but for Lake Havasu City business owners and entrepreneurs, it means a pretty good shot in the arm for their bottom line.

There’s little doubt that restaurants, bars hotels make out well, but they are far from the only outfits that benefit from the event.

Todd Taylor, known well to many in Havasu, retired and moved here permanently in 2000.

But for a man who is supposedly retired, he said he’s never been busier.

“In one capacity or another, I’ve been involved with Desert Storm for at least 15 years, if not more,” Taylor said. “And Desert Storm is absolutely a boost to the local economy.”

Taylor operates three businesses that are directly affected by the Storm.

For his photography business, he shoots images and video for Speed Boat magazine. For Jokers Wild Productions, he and a crew install the extra docks that are needed for the nearly 200 boats that compete. Taylor also runs Top Gun Racing Fuels, providing the high-octaine juice for the power boats that need it to go fast.

“I own 220 feet of docks and the hardware that is needed to put it together,” Taylor said. “Tthe Storm pays me to do the work and rent my docks. I also use their docks and I set up the course for the Shootout.”

Taylor also does well with his fuel sales. He said Wednesday he’d already sold eight to 10 55-gallon drums of 110- or 116-octane fuel and he hopes to sell another five to 10 barrels before the Storm blows out of Havasu.

In addition, he’s sold 20 cases of Accelerator, a fuel additive that boaters add to lower octane gas to give it an extra boost.

“It’s the second biggest event locally and I buy local and hire local people to help me set up the docks and the course,” Taylor said. “I buy the food for the people setting up the docks, so there’s a lot of money being spent in a lot of different ways.”

Taylor said his profit is in the five figures and he knows how many different people benefit from the Storm.

“Mechanics, you name it, many people are beneficiaries of it,” Taylor said.

Local businessman Jim Dolan, also a member of City Council, runs the Campbell Cove 1-Stop near Lake Havasu State Park.

“I’d say we see a 20 percent increase in business this week,” Dolan said. “It’s one of our major weekends, up there with Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day. If it gets rained out, you know it.

“We know we have to be ready for four days of craziness,” he said.

In addition to the 91-octane fuel at 1-Stop, the store sells a variety of food, snacks, candy, beverages and other items that boaters are looking for when they stop.

“We get a lot of people that stop in for breakfast and lunch,” Dolan said.

He also said, while rare, there are boaters who stop in to fill their tanks with $2,000 worth of gas.

“We found out that our pump stops at $1,000, so they have to start over to finish fueling. Typically, it’s a couple hundred dollars for a tank full, but sometimes, it’s much more,” Dolan said.

Friday’s Poker Run is a big day for his operation as they gas up everyday boaters who will be out on the lake competing.

While exact figures are elusive, it’s easy to see Desert Storm is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Havasu community.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 928-453-4237, ext. 252, or sshindledecker@havasunews.com