Senior Spotlight: An Entrepreneur Thrives on Hobbies

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Brandon Jackson

Brandon Jackson, a senior business administration student, fuels his entrepreneurial spirit with experience working as a deckhand and chef for his family’s tourism company in Homer, Alaska.

Born in Alaska, Jackson’s family moved to New Hampshire when he was 5 so that he and his younger brother could attend Christian school. Between taking classes at the New Hampshire Outdoor Learning Center and fishing, he thrived on outdoor activities. “I’ve grown up in that field my whole life,” he said.

Business was also an integral part of his childhood. Jackson watched his father start several businesses and helped him with the busywork. He even started his own business, Rock Maple Knives LLC, in 2015 as an outlet for his love of handiwork. Producing about five knives per year, he currently operates his business as a side hustle. “It’s just a couple hours a week — just keeps me a little bit more sane with all the schoolwork,” he said.

BJU and Business

Through those experiences, Jackson saw his future in business. “I love the whole logistics background of it, like being in charge of your own company,” he said. “It’s a little bit different field than working for somebody else and helping somebody else’s agenda.”

To further his development as an entrepreneur, he decided to attend BJU as a fourth-generation student. Not only did he want to be near extended family and experience a different part of the USA, he was attracted to BJU’s business program. “Teachers are fantastic,” he said. “They have a lot of really good experience.”

However, his perspective on college is different than most students. “I’m actually not really here for the degree,” he explained. “I’m here for the information.” Because structures make or break a business, he is most concerned about class content, learning from others’ experiences and applying knowledge at his internship.

Along with his internship, his capstone was helpful. “That’s where everything was brought together,” he said. Additionally, taking a class on advanced lighting and photography helped him to capture images in a new way.

Destination Alaska Charters

Jackson’s classes on video production, photography and marketing have also helped him increase the online presence of his father’s newest business, Destination Alaska Charters.

In 2017, two weeks after graduating high school, Jackson and his family moved back to Alaska to start a business for high-end custom trips. They focused on their passion for boats and airplanes. “We wanted to find a place where we fit in the community and a way to pay for our hobbies,” Jackson said.

Experienced in fishing, Jackson found his place helping with fishing trips and wildlife cruises. He enjoyed being a deckhand after his first experience in the summer of 2018. “I just love being on the water,” he said. “Every day waking up early. Getting down there, sun’s coming up. Watching seagulls.” Each summer he spends at least 100 days on the water. Because of his passion for boating, he plans to earn his captain’s license this spring.

On the charter boats, Jackson also selects and prepares menus of local dishes made with quality ingredients. When he was looking for his first job in New Hampshire, he found an ad on Craigslist for a dishwasher at Avaloch Farm Music Institute. As he developed a relationship with the head chef of the gourmet kitchen, he became the chef’s assistant. “The chef taught me everything he knew,” Jackson said.

College Plans Adjusted

Over the past two years, Destination Alaska Charters has grown. The Jacksons had a custom boat built in town by the summer of 2019. They also acquired a charter boat company and an aviation company, adding seven boats and three planes to their business.

In 2020, COVID-19 threatened progress. The tourism season, which usually lasts from May to October, was postponed until September. Jackson was expecting to return to BJU for his final semester, but that decision meant missing the shifted busy season. However, because business is slower during the spring semesters, he decided to postpone his graduation until May 2021. “I just couldn’t justify coming back,” he said. “Honestly, God worked out all the issues for it to actually work better that way.”

After graduation, Jackson plans to continue helping his father’s business on location during the summer and remotely during the off-season.