They all stared at him like he was crazy. Several of his cousins leaned back in their chairs and laughed. Of course, they were the ones who did not work with the people. They were the ones who didn’t have to put up with some of the stunts their guests had pulled.
“Why?” Rose, who was nearing seventy, asked. “We make good money from the dude ranch.”
“Because I’m tired of dealing with the crazies who come here thinking they can be vacation cowboys. Someone is going to get seriously hurt and then we’ll be sued.”
“We have insurance to handle that,” Aunt Rose said.
Justin shook his head. His father, Mark Burnett had taken the ranch into the modern day and upgraded their operations. But still, that didn’t mean they needed the dude ranch. They were all extremely rich from the family business. Almost every Burnett had over a billion dollars in the bank thanks to their hard-working ancestors, great cattle, and even a little oil money.
His cousin Caleb shook his head. The boy had graduated college with a marketing degree and his focus was on getting them as much publicity as possible with a fancy website, newsletters, and Instagram and Facebook profiles. Not to mention the money he spent on advertising.
“I’m with Rose. Our profit margin is over fifty percent. People come here and enjoy riding horses, swimming, and our cookouts. We’re in almost every travel magazine in the state of Texas and I’m attending a travel show next week in Washington D.C. that will showcase us even more.”
Damn, this was not going well.
“Caleb, I’m glad you’ve made the dude ranch a big success, but I’m the one who has to deal with entertaining our guests and making certain that our clients don’t do something stupid like try to tame a bull. That happened last year.”
A smile crossed his cousin’s face. “And you do a fine job of it. But we spent over twenty thousand dollars to get into these travel magazines. That would be a complete waste of money. I don’t like to squander money.”
Shit, this wasn’t going well at all.
“Maybe, Travis, you should let the workers we hire do the trail rides and even the rodeo we host,” Cody Burnett, Caleb’s brother said.
Now that was just pure craziness. Neither one of them had ever worked the guest angle of the dude ranch.
“You would entrust our guests’ safety to hired hands? Are you willing to risk us being sued?”
His brother Tucker who had been leaning back watching the interplay between the family finally spoke up. “I’m with Travis. Our guests need to be protected from themselves. That must always be something a family member handles. And a priority.”
Oh, dear, his aunt Rose was frowning and she had that look on her face that implied you were suggesting they hire monsters. This was not someone you wanted to piss off and it appeared that Travis had just made her furious.
“The Burnett Ranch was established in 1870 right after the civil war. My grandfather opened the dude ranch back in 1946 and saved our heritage with the money he made showing city slickers our life in the country. I’m never going to be for closing a piece of our heritage,” his aunt Rose said, glaring at him like he was robbing the family silver.
The old woman had more money than any of them and no heirs.
“You’re so right,” his cousin Desiree said and Travis wanted to barf.
The woman worked up in the front office and didn’t know a thing about ranch life, though her father had been a great cowboy until an accident sidelined him. Now he sat on the board, but hardly ever said anything. He just let the younger generation make the decisions with Aunt Rose leading them.
“Any other discussion on closing the dude ranch?”
Everyone was silent.
“Let’s vote,” his aunt said.
There was no chance in hell this was going to pass, but he had to try for his own sanity.
“There are only three votes. The dude ranch will continue,” his aunt said. “Next piece of business is the hiring of the new chef. She graduated from Escoffier in Boulder, Colorado, and is top rated.”