The Specialist Buyers Guide for the Theme Park Industry
Ernst & Young’s program to recognize Canada’s leading entrepreneurs has been running for 26 years and each year attracts more than 300 entries from across Canada. The awards’ website asks, “are you unstoppable?” and when you look at the market leader that Geoff Chutter has built in WhiteWater, it becomes clear why he is the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019, the first ever from the Pacific region.
WhiteWater has grown from being one of Canada’s first water parks in 1980 to a global force, leading the attractions industry, with over 600 employees and offices in Vancouver, Denver, San Diego, Shanghai, Barcelona, and Dubai.
Through a combination of in-house innovation and a series of strategic acquisitions, Geoff has created the broadest product portfolio in the industry, allowing WhiteWater to provide every type of attraction a water park needs and even a few for the theme park with our water ride product line.
Establishing a different model in an industry of single product providers, WhiteWater leads where others follow and the same has been true of their geographic expansion. Looking beyond borders, WhiteWater’s first export project was in Japan in 1988, while they were the first in the industry to open an office in China as the water park craze developed, a boom which saw revenues top $100 million for the first time and ten years later now exceeds $200 million.
“Geoff’s and WhiteWater’s entrepreneurial ride towards being crowned the EY Canadian Entrepreneur Of The Year is truly an inspiring, ‘feel good’ story,” remarks Lui Petrollini, EY’s Assurance Partner and the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Pacific Program Director.
“It’s one thing to be acknowledged for entrepreneurial achievement, it’s another to be acknowledged in a sector that supports family values by enabling dreams to come true and lasting memories to be made. Becoming the largest global designer and the biggest manufacturer of water park products is no small feat. It’s taken Geoff, and WhiteWater, years of dedication to their business, product mix, and customer base to achieve this global reach and success,” continued Petrollini.
Geoff shares successful entrepreneurs’ characteristics of courage, vision, and a tireless work ethic, all of which inspire those around him. Another of his key strengths, and one of the judging criteria for this award, is social responsibility and personal integrity. It is this that makes him an exemplary leader—he is a thoroughly decent human being who keeps his word, is approachable, cares about his employees, and who gives his time to charity. At each opportunity he attributes this award to the talented team he has built around him and says he has always strived to hire better, smarter people than himself.
The term “purpose driven leadership” is popular these days, but it is something that Geoff has always demonstrated; he loves the attractions industry WhiteWater serves and shares the passion he has for making water fun. In his EY video, he talks about how no matter where business has taken him, regardless of country or climate, ‘we are all the same’ in our delight to play in water. WhiteWater’s mission statement is not just a corporate statement but one that is lived: “We are uniting people around the world though joyful lasting memories” and in his acceptance speech last Thursday night Geoff recounted a conversation when he was told by a dad that a day with his family in a water park was one of the best days of his life.
Geoff and WhiteWater now progress to compete against 60 other country winners in the world finals of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year in Monaco, this coming June.