Meet Your Merchant: Avid traveler, Realtor changes company name
August 14, 2013
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Blane Johnson is owner of Incline at Tahoe Realty, a full service real estate, property management and vacation rental company.
The self-proclaimed ski bum came to Incline Village more than two decades ago with an itch to learn the sport.
Blane switched from skiing to real estate and has been in the business for more than 20 years, and he's owned Incline at Tahoe Realty for seven.
"Nobody knew what Incline Village was 20 years ago," Johnson said.
“Nobody knew what Incline Village was 20 years ago.”
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The increase in tourism in Incline as well as his desire to stand out led to the recent idea to change his business's name — Incline at Tahoe Realty will now operate under the name Sun Bear Realty.
"If you can visualize a logo, it's easier to remember," he said as he described the orange chest special to sun bears. "Incline at Tahoe is so long and confounded, even my friends can't remember the name of it."
Property Manager Andrea Cohen said there is often confusion with the spelling out of the word "at" as opposed to using the "@" symbol.
"Can you imagine how confusing vacation rentals are?" she asking.
The new name, she said, "is something different" and "will stand out more."
Cohen has worked for Johnson since 1995 and said the "big picture thinker" has always been an adventure seeker and avid traveler.
"He's always searching for more," she said. "I'm always learning because he's always bringing stuff to the table."
Her boss is known to spend a day hiking Mt. Tallac or take his daughter fly fishing.
"It helps to go someplace and really shut off," Johnson said. "The cellphones, the TV, having a solid group here allows us to do that. We all like to play."
Johnson described a recent trip to one of his favorite cities, New Orleans, and how the experience reminded him why he loves to travel.
While waiting for a table outside a Cajun restaurant, he and his wife watched a man wail on a trumpet on his front porch across the street. His neighbor joined him with a trombone and the two played an impromptu performance.
A five-piece band, complete with a washboard and stand up bass, set up on the corner down the block and the summer evening filled with more jazz.
Johnson and his wife tapped their feet and watched a couple pass by and begin to swing dance. Johnson, a repeat performer in the Incline Star Follies, said he would never pass up a good show in a new place.
"I love getting out and seeing what the rest of the world has to offer," he said.
The Realtor and business owner recently returned from a family trip of scuba diving in the Caribbean island of Curacao.
He described the surreal experience of breathing underwater with massive turtles and an octopus. He said he loved the giant grouper fish swimming around him.
"You look up toward the water and there are clouds of fish, schools of fish that just swim past your face," he said.
One of Johnson's greatest travel partners is also one of his temporary employees. His daughter, Katie, plans to leave Sun Bear Realty this fall to begin her first semester at the University of California in San Luis Obispo.
The two have spent summers over the last 15 years exploring places like Yellowstone, Bodega Bay and Hearst Castle.
Katie said the father-daughter camping trips have been a tradition since she was five years old. The adventurers' most recent trip was to Eastern Nevada.
"We saw nine elk and it was the first time we'd seen rattlesnakes up close," Blane said.
He described waking up after a night of a long drive on a dirt road. The truck's tire was flat and Blane and Katie were surrounded by cattle.
Later the two spotted a mountain lion drinking from a stream and another sprinting through a field.
"There are some really cool treasures that you wouldn't expect to find in the middle of the desert," Katie said.
The love of travel and of the outdoors she might have learned from her father, she said, but also "the importance of keeping commitments."
Sun Bear Realty still operates from the website of Inclineattahoerealty.com, with plans to change to sunbearrealty.com later this summer.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.