Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates Charles & Charlene Spears Honored With Golden Legacy Award

Friday, September 15, 2006

Area Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates Receive Franchise Organization's Highest Honor for Nearly 50 Years of Service to Tulsa's Travelers

The Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate Division today bestowed its highest honor—the Golden Legacy Award—on Charles and Charlene Spears from Bartlesville, owners of six Tulsa-based Carlson Wagonlit Travel locations in Oklahoma. Provided once each year, the Golden Legacy Award honors Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates (franchisees) who best exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit and high quality standards embodied by Carlson founder Curtis L. Carlson. The Spears were honored during today's General Session of the 2006 Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates National Meeting at the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, FL (outside of Tampa). "Given the theme of this year's National Meeting—‘Focus on the Customer, the Key to Our Future'—it seems entirely appropriate that travel industry leaders like Chuck and Charlene who have so diligently met the travel needs of Oklahomans for nearly fifty years should be honored with our most prestigious award," stated Roger E. Block, CTC, executive vice president of the Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Associate Division, which includes more than 600 franchised locations throughout the United States. Charlene Spears first opened her travel agency in 1958 and brought her husband into it just a few years later. When she welcomed the more than 50 employees from her six agencies for the annual employee appreciation banquet last month, she reflected on her much smaller, simpler beginning by telling her staff, "I started out with one desk and two phones. Now look where we are." Indeed, by working with her husband Chuck and then later including their two sons Gary and Greg, they were successful in growing their business—thriving despite many significant challenges and changes in the travel business. In 1985, the Spears became affiliated with what is now the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate Program. Now, with six agencies throughout the Tulsa region, the Spears are known for their exceptional service to both corporate and leisure travelers. While all kinds of travel products make up the Spears' family portfolio, they have developed one very unique niche over the last few decades: solar eclipse tours. With a specialty in astronomy that includes knowing the best places to view eclipse events, they've become successful in organizing excursions to both total eclipses and annular eclipses. Though Charlene and Chuck remain quite involved in the business, their sons have taken on the day-to-day operations over the last few years. Their son Greg says their parents have instilled a love of travel and of the people in the business and it is meant to be a family business. "My folks enjoyed, over the years, traveling and being able to take other people on trips and travel all over the world. They have people that want to go with them and keep them young at heart and in the business," Greg said. As this year's Golden Legacy Award winner, the Spears were presented with a plaque inscribed with a replica of Swedish Artist Carl Mille's sculpture "Man and His Genius." The sculpture depicts an "ecstatic flight of two creatures"—man and flying horse flying separately on their sides. The image represents the striving of the human spirit. Curtis Carlson purchased the life-sized "Man and His Genius" sculpture in 1990 to display in front of the main entrance of the Carlson world headquarters in Minneapolis, where it remains today. To find the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate location nearest you, dial 1-800-CARLSON, or visit www.carlsontravel.com. For information on joining the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate program, please call 866-248-3499 or visit www.carlsontravel.com, and click on "Franchise Information." Carlson Travel Group, Inc. is a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Carlson. Brands include: Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Cruise Holidays, Results Travel, SeaMaster Cruises, Carlson Leisure Travel Services and Carlson Destination Marketing Services. In 2006, for the tenth consecutive year, a Carlson Travel Franchise Group brand was named the top travel business franchise by Entrepreneur's Franchise 500®; Franchise Times ranked the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate Program as the 3rd top franchise overall in 2005 for the fifth year in a row.

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