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NIHO Unveils New Dude Ranch Concept

James Risdon, Business in Vancouver,  December 24-30, 1996


After years of buying land in the Interior, selectively logging it and reselling it to recreational land buyers, the NIHO Land & Cattle Company is moving on to what it hopes will be greener pastures.

Rudy Nielsen, president of New Westminster-based NIHO, stopped logging land about two years ago, and started looking for another focus for his company. Now, he thinks he's found it: brand-new, dude ranches owned by city slickers who will use them to be weekend cowboys.

Nielsen got the idea from his own ranch, south of Vanderhoof. The 5,000 acre spread now has 18 rustic cabins on it, in addition to Nielsen's home, and about a dozen horses. During the summer, some 400 head of a neighbor's cattle graze on the property.

Nielsen says he built the ranch as a childhood dream and is hoping city-dwelling baby boomers feel the same way. So far, he's got one deal in the works with a group of about five men for a property of roughly 1,000 acres that would be turned into a ranch.

What it will cost to develop it into a wild-west retreat is not yet known, but Nielsen says it could be as much as $2.5 million, or as little as $300,000. NIHO would develop the property for the group and get a share of it, which it could sell once the project is finished. Rough plans call for a house for a caretaker, some horses, and either a trailer or cabins for the "weekend cowboys." Nielsen believes that the project "will be the first of many and there is no shortage of players."

NIHO's other main focus of business- recreational and resort property sales- has been down somewhat in the past year. The privately held company does not divulge revenue or sales figures, but Nielsen admits that this past year was quieter than 1995 for such sales.

Prices for this type of property within a five hour drive of Vancouver now range between about $65,000 and $150,000 - much more than the $45,000 to $75,000 range for properties a little farther to the north. Nielsen says most buyers won't enter the market when prices go much above $90,000.