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Making Waves

More than one hundred government agencies mocked Andy Wilson's idea, but look who's quacking now.

The first thing you're struck by when you hear Andy Wilson talk about the birth of his tour company, Boston Duck Tours, is how he finds a positive spin to put on every obstacle he's faced. Even though it took him two years to bring his dream to fruition, Wilson is hesitant to complain about the lack of support he found in the more than 100 government agencies he had to deal with to get the 29 permits required to open his doors.

"There was a great deal of resistance to the idea at the time, but that's taken a 180-degree turn," says Wilson, 42. "Now everybody we deal with thinks we're a very good thing for Boston."

Wilson chalks up both his good and his bad experiences to fate, but it took a lot more than destiny to get him where he is today: It took tenacity and confidence, as well as faith in the power of Boston's history and the amphibious World War II vehicles fondly known as Ducks. Last year, nearly 400,000 passengers took the plunge on Wilson's 16 Ducks--which cruise down the streets of Boston and splash through the Charles River--to the tune of $6.2 million for the 5-year-old company. And Wilson, who expects his sales to reach $7.2 million this year, has become one of the more distinct and respected members of the Boston landscape, spreading the joy of quacking throughout the city.

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Making Waves.

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