Mike Litawa of the Breakers Reflects on Over 30 Years In-Business
vacation rentals within reach of sand dunes and miles of scenic beaches. It’s
not hard to imagine how this business found success.
But success isn’t such a simple story.
Mike Litawa had traveled much of the American
west by the time he found his way to Pacific County. After kickstarting
numerous resorts and managing properties, he had years of experience to bring
to The Breakers when he became involved in the early 2000’s.
We asked Mike his secret to a thriving business.
Here’s what he had to say:
Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?
The business was here before I got involved; It
was built in the late ’70s. But how I got here was an interesting story.
I was up in Birch Bay when I lost my wife to
cancer. So I was looking for something else to jump into. Meanwhile, a
gentleman I’d worked with ten years prior had the contract for The Breakers. We
reconnected and he said, “Hey, let me sell you my business.”
So that’s kind of how that came about. I
eventually bought him out and have been here for seventeen years.
What services or products do you offer?
The Breakers is comprised of individual
condominiums–people’s vacation homes. We run their homeowners association, and
we handle their rentals and run it like a hotel.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I had some early successes reorganizing certain
things that weren’t efficient. Reorganizing rate structures, for example.
Having worked about thirty properties in my
life, I can walk in and see where the holes are—where people don’t like to put
in the work. So I made some early successes pretty quickly, and that was
I’ve also ended up with a great staff. We have a
lot of employees who have been here for fifteen to twenty years. And seeing
people with potential and watching them live up to that potential has been very
How do you define success?
Having 17-year employees. Some say it’s all
about the money. But if you take care of the service first, the money will come
and take care of the service. Then your employees will stick around. This
business is notorious for turnover, so for people to stick around is pretty
If you keep your people happy, that’s success
in my book.
What is unique about your business?
The homeowners. I’ve got a hundred bosses! In
addition to the board of directors.
But you have 100 people coming up to you saying,
“Oh, you should do this, you should do that, or we should do this with
In the beginning, I was always saying,
“Sure I’ll do it.” Then it just got to be too much; you can’t do
everything for everybody. But we’ve gotten pretty good with boundaries.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone starting a business
in Pacific County, what would it be?
Don’t get discouraged after the first winter,
and figure out a way to cater to locals as well as tourists. Because the locals
will keep you rolling for the off-season.
We keep in touch with our regular customers. For
example, we have the folks that come out for the winter who want to pay a
little less. They’ll come and hang out, storm watch, walk the beach in the
That dependability—I think that’s key.
For any aspiring business owner in Pacific
County, here are a few key takeaways from Mike’s experience:
- Take care of your employees and help them live up to
- Don’t let the wintertime get you down.
- Cater to locals as well as tourists.
- Keep in touch with the regulars; cater to what they
like about your business.