The newest edition to our staff due the greatest amount of praise for his efforts during the month of February. We were happy to announce Norberto “Tavo” Valencia as Employee of the Month for February 2010.
Tavo has been with us for about two months. With the increased amount of business we have been happy to receive at Popa, we went looking for another boat driver to take the pressure of Gumey and I and to be able to offer more trips and excursions every day. Finding a boat captain in Bocas del Toro, an archipelago, where the main transportation is boats was not as easy as you would think.
The first problem is competition. Many of the boat captains own their own boats and can make good money when there are lots of tourists in town. When the tour season goes flat though, they have to scramble for the few tourists there are in order to make money. We offer a salaried position, which may be less than the direct cash-in-pocket, that tours can offer, but the security and benefits that come with working at Popa are a good incentive to work here. This was not so easy to convince the boat captains.
When we finally did get a couple of boat captains out here for interviews, the fact that they had worked for themselves for so long did not help them blend into the team atmosphere that we encourage here, where everyone shares work duties and everyone lends a hand where it is needed.
And along came Tavo. Tavo lives in Isla Tigre, a Ngobe community where a couple of our staff live. He found out about the job through them. At the time, he was working freelance for a few private homes in the area, running tours for them when they were rented out. He came out for the interview with his wife (we were looking for a new housekeeper at the same time).
Two months later, Tavo has still not stopped impressing me with his professionalism in his work duties. He is a major team player and constantly chips in to offer a hand where it is needed. Today I caught him sweeping the clubhouse in the few minutes he had before a tour went out. He likes to keep busy and is a major asset to the Resort.