Even as he juggles responsibilities for a new music festival, a beach resort and other big projects, Travis Kruger keeps one thing in mind at all times.
“I’ve really focused everything on success. I want to be successful not only in business, but I want to be successful in my personal life with myself, my family and anything I put my mind to,” he said.
“When Boonstock approached me it was: Is this going to be a success? That was my very first thought.”
Kruger, 35, is the latest nominee for the Top 40 under 40.
His day job as a member of the Penticton Indian Band council sees him working on major on-reserve projects like the Skaha Hills residential development and the plan to construct a new bridge and retail area on the Okanagan River channel at Green Avenue.
Parallel to those duties, he’s also involved in two important on-reserve tourist attractions. Kruger’s family is the locatee owner of the land under the Barefoot Beach Resort, which opened at the south end of Penticton last year. His family is also one of a handful that own the nearby site that will host the Boonstock Music Festival this summer.
He said his personal business dealings reflect the philosophy of the PIB council.
“The key thing that we want to get across to everybody is the Penticton Indian Band is open for business and it’s not a big, scary world on this side,” Kruger said.
He suspects the band’s blockades of Green Mountain Road in the 1990s, intended to protest a lack of consultation on a proposed expansion of Apex Ski Resort, likely contributed to a negative image that’s been tough to shake.
“It’s something that happened and it just proves we’re there to stand up when we need to, (but) right now we’re moving towards economic development in all aspects,” Kruger said. “I really just want Penticton to prosper as a whole … I remember what Penticton used to be and I remember our population used to double or triple on weekends.”
Max Picton, president of the Barefoot Beach Resort and the very first Top 40 selection, has known Kruger for 20 years and said his friend means it when he says he wants what’s best for the whole community.
“He’s got a really good vision for what he wants for the region, and it all revolves around stimulating the economy and bringing things back to the way they once were,” Picton said.
“Whether they know it or not, he’s gunning for everybody to be successful.
“He’s a really good guy to have working for the community.”
Kruger acknowledged the push for economic development on the reserve has met with resistance from some band members, but said council is working to keep a separation between new projects and the existing residential area.
“I think people are a little more receptive to that, rather than plopping something right in the middle of everything,” he said.
Outside of work, Kruger, who holds a diploma in indigenous peoples resource management from the University of Saskatchewan, volunteers for youth projects like canoe trips.
“My downtime is just spent with family and friends and surrounding myself with positive people that bring value to my life,” he continued, adding he’s confident that focus will help him and the band bring value to the broader community.
“I’ve had plans for Penticton and a bunch of different things, and Barefoot was step one, and really a music festival was supposed to be about step four (but) it kind of landed on my lap,” he explained.
Kruger wouldn’t reveal what he has in mind for the second and third steps.
“You’ll find out,” he said with a grin. “There are things that are coming.”
Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by the Prospera Credit Union and White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants in partnership with the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, JCI Penticton with support from Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen. Nominations should be sent to email@example.com with the subject line ‘Top 40 Nomination. Please include nominees contact info and a brief reason for nomination.