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Born to Drive

After owning his own business for 25-years, Joseph Burtard has created more than a company. He has created what he calls an “unforgettable experience.”

Burtard grew up in a western family where he showed animals and junior rodeoed. After giving rodeo a try for the first 13 years of his life, he decided it was not the sport for him. “My dad said that I better figure something out to do on the weekends,” Burtard said. Around the same time, he had started spending time with a man in his community that restored old wagons.

Burtard decided to break one of his horses to drive. “I had a run-down wagon and I decided to start working,” he said. At the age of 14, the entrepreneur approached a restaurant owner in his town and asked to give their guests wagon rides for profit. She hired him and paid him $150 a week. JR Carriage Service was born.

After graduating high school, Burtard moved to Grand Junction to attend Mesa State College. His business made the move down the mountain with him. “Some of my friends wanted to do a wine tasting, so I was like why don’t we just take the carriage out,” Burtard said, “that sparked the idea of horse drawn wine tours.” Wine tours are now JR Carriage Service’s most popular service.

Burtard now employs 10 drivers. Trace Cox has been working for the company for two years. Cox is in the Nursing program at Colorado Mesa University, and balances working as a driver on the weekends.

Cox has worked many different events over the last two years. He enjoys the local events like the Peach Fest and parades. “My favorite event is the Christmas Light tours,” Cox said.

Starting the Friday after Thanksgiving, JR Carriage company will be spending the weekends in down town Grand Junction.

Burtard partnered with the city to bring residents of the Grand Valley into the Christmas spirit. His company will provide the community with free down town carriage rides. “My favorite part is the Christmas spirit that everyone is in,” Cox said. This will take place every Saturday until December 17th. The wagons will be picking guests up outside of Café Sol and drive passengers around the downtown area.

Private Christmas light tours are a more exclusive event. The horse drawn carriage will take guests up and down the main street historic district to look at the different lights. “The horses, carriage, lights and music bring together a unique experience every time,” Cox said. Christmas music and hot chocolate are an added touch to get the community members in the holiday spirit. “The idea behind this is to stimulate the revenue sources down town. We try to promote the down town patrons as much as possible,” Burtard said.

Burtard hopes that JR Carriage can continue to grow and give people a once in a life time experience for years to come. With his entrepreneurial mind, the owner is always looking to expand in a way to better his business and to better the Grand Valley community.

“We really want to find these unique niches that we can embrace the western heritage in unique manners. It’s very important to me that I continue this draft horse heritage,” Burtard said.

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