It’s difficult to be known as a man of “firsts” here in the First State, but Bob Older is just that. Consider these “firsts” he’s accomplished:
- The first person to introduce PVC furniture to Delaware
- The first person to provide legal passage to Cuba from Delaware
- The first person to found a statewide chamber focused on local small businesses
Bob Older’s business is travel – he’s the founder of Creative Travel – but his purpose is people; more specifically, how to help people start and grow their small businesses and how to get us, the consumers, to spend our hard earned cash in those businesses. He’s done this very successfully, in part by creating the Delaware Small Business Chamber, the first statewide chamber focused on helping local small businesses. Three years ago it did not exist. Today there are over 300 members. That’s pretty awesome.
You know what else is pretty awesome? Bob brought us Delaware Monopoly! Yes, he’s responsible for turning Baltic Avenue into South College Avenue (Newarkopoly) and Pennsylvania Avenue into…well..Pennsylvania Avenue (New Castle Countopoly).
Another accomplishment for Bob and the Delaware Small Business Chamber is the creation of the Delaware Fun Fest and the Scrapple Cook Off ~ finalist in the NorthDelawarehappening.com Happening List Competition for the Most Happening Festival 2015. The 2015 DSBC Fun Fest and Champion Scrapple Recipe Cook Off is on September 12, 2015. For more information about attending this event, how to enter the scrapple contest, or if you are interested in being a vendor; visit, 2015 DSBC Fun Fest.
NDH: The person who nominated you gave us three reasons why you should be nominated as a Mover & Shaker. Now we would like to hear it from you. Tell us three reasons why you are a Mover & Shaker.
Bob Older: I have done “firsts” my whole life. I was the first person in Delaware that brought PVC furniture to the state in the early 1980s; I was the first to bring a Delaware Board Game to the area (Newarkoply and New Castle Countoply) in the late 1980s. I was the first person in Delaware to legally be able to bring people to Cuba and of Course I am the first person to create a statewide chamber focused on local small business. I was also the first person in the world to create a Small Business Vehicle Convoy.
1) When many travel agencies have been leaving brick and mortar and heading to their homes, I was the one going the other way. Moving 5 times in 10 years and each time to a bigger and better place. From my home to an office in an industrial park to a small kiosk at Christiana Mall, to a high-rise office building, to a storefront to a better storefront in a bigger shopping center.
2) Creative Travel was the first company in Delaware to be able to legally take people to Cuba from the United States and have since grown that part to a nationwide program bringing people almost monthly from all over the USA to Cuba right from the USA
3) When many people told me that we wouldn’t be able to have another chamber and that it would never work, I built the Delaware Small Business Chamber as the premier organization working with and supporting local small businesses from no employees to 50 and bringing the larger companies in the area that work with those kinds of companies together, In just over 3 years we are about to have our 300th member.
NDH: What achievements are you most proud of?
Bob Older: Besides my daughter, I think creating the Delaware Small Business Chamber and succeeding where many thought I wouldn’t.
NDH: Can you share any stories about how your involvement has impacted an individual or the North Delaware community?
Bob Older: I think starting the Delaware Small Business Chamber has impacted many people individually as well as helped several communities by supporting the local businesses and trying to get more people into the small stores instead of the big chains. Through Creative Travel, we have given many people free trips to NYC for the day and for many of them it was the first time they had gone and it’s always fun to see their faces and expressions when they get there.
NDH: Movers & Shakers are visionaries. What projects are you working on for future achievement?
Bob Older: Expanding the Delaware Small Business Chamber to help all of the communities in Delaware and the surrounding areas. We are looking to expand the Small Business Vehicle Convoy to become a statewide event where convoys will run at the same time along streets all over the state. We have expanded this years to our normal Kirkwood Hwy Route and added Middletown Chamber who will run along Main St in Middletown.
NDH: Have you faced any serious challenges along the way that you would like to share?
Bob Older: Many. In the travel business many people don’t realize all of the things that affect us: 9-11, Sars, the DC Sniper, Cruise ship mishaps etc. affect our sales and bottom line yet we have been able to expand 3 times in the last 6 years. For the chamber, there was so many challenges, mostly in New Castle County to try and show businesses that we were a very different chamber and not affiliated with others that had been involved with in the past and had issues with. After 3 years, people are starting to really notice how different we are.
NDH: What local organizations, events or clubs are you currently involved with?
Bob Older: Just the over 100 we do at the Delaware Small Business Chamber.
NDH: Do you have a mentor?
Bob Older: In business, it was a guy named Joe Sugarman who started a mail order electronics business in the 80s.
NDH: Is there anything else that North Delaware should know about YOU?
Bob Older: I believe in Small business and our clients and customers in both of the companies I am involved with.
NDH: How do you feel about being named as one of the Top 10 Movers & Shakers in North Delaware?
Bob Older: I am honored. It is a great feeling to have others notice what you do right.