Meet Our Tour Guides

Don Sipola, Co-Owner

Don is a co-founder of Duluth Glides with his wife JoAnn. In addition to being the owner and part time tour guide, Don was a practicing Optometrist until July of 2016 when he retire from “his day job”. Don served 7 years on the Virginia City Council, numerous community organizations, the Minnesota State Board of Optometry, and is a commercial pilot and FAA Flight Instructor. As an entrepreneur outside of optometry, Don was owner operator of an italian restaurant “Little Italy” for 9 years, and owner operator of “Don’s Dig & Dump and Son” Excavators, with his son Matt, who himself will received his Doctorate degree in Optometry in May of 2013. Matt recently married Dr. Hannah, and both assumed the optometry practices in July 2016. Don created DuluthGlides Segway Tours in the spring of 2013, overseas all operations, and is the Chief Segway Instructor responsible for training and certifying all tour guides. What a way to Segway into retirement!

JoAnn Sipola, Co-Owner

JoAnn is a co-founder of Duluth Glides.  Five minutes into her first Segway glide, she decided that this was the most fun she has had EVER!  (And chasing around with Don for 30 years, she has had a lot of fun!)  She is also involved in the Virginia Community and Lakes Committee, helping to maintain the City beach and conducting historical walking tours of Virginia’s Olcott Park.   She extends a special welcome to all who would like to give Segway-ing a try.  “It was totally nerve-wracking for the first few minutes, but as soon as you leave the parking lot and start touring, it becomes so natural, just like walking.” JoAnn is the chief factual researcher and script writer for all tours, and is a Certified Guide for all available tours.

John Degelau

John is a 2020 graduate of UMD with a major in Physics with a minor in Materials Science. He is now employed by Cirrus Aviation here in Duluth and still has a passion for guiding Segway Tours on weekends.  Originally from south Minneapolis, he graduated from DE LaSalle High School where he saw Minneapolis’ Segway tours on a daily basis during cross country practice. Excited by the thought of gliding around downtown Minneapolis, he spent one summer with them as an assistant guide before moving to Duluth for college. John loves the city of Duluth due to its proximity to endless outdoor recreation opportunities. His favorite summer activity is slack lining- a modern twist on tightrope walking that features looser ropes and no balance pole to hold. In the winter, he finds his habitat as a freestyle skier in the terrain parks of Spirit Mountain just outside Duluth. John’s passion for being outside and exploring has made him knowledgeable on the places to see and things to do in Duluth, which he is always willing to share. John started as a Certified Segway Tour Guide in 2017.

Sean Smith

Sean comes to us originally from Arkansas via Missouri and Utah. He started with DuluthGlides in the fall of 2019 as a Certified Segway Instructor and in short order qualified as a Certified Segway Tour Guide on all of our various tours.  As an Eagle Scout since 2006, if you are out on the trail with Sean he will know exactly what to do in emergencies! Sean has a Bachelor’s of Science in Forestry (2010) and a Master’s Degree in Education (2015). He has been always been an active outdoorsy type of person (i.e. Degree in Forestry) having worked and managed the “Go Ape Treetop Outdoor Adventure” course (high ropes) in Missouri using much the same skill set he uses as a Segway Instructor/Guide.  Sean finds his way to Duluth following his love, Emily, who is in Graduate school at UMD. Sean’s “day job” is a Student Reporting Specialist; G&E Co-coordinator for the Independence University reporting directly to the Provost. As such, his work is remote with a flexible schedule. Sean is anxious to get back on the Segway and begin guiding tours again this summer.