The Specialist Buyers Guide for the Theme Park Industry
Ernst & Young announced their EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Pacific winners on October 3rd, and WhiteWater is delighted that its President & CEO, Geoff Chutter has been recognized with the outstanding honour of winning both the Business to Business category and being the overall Pacific Regional winner, moving on to the Canadian final.
Geoff Chutter started WhiteWater in 1980 in the town of Penticton, BC, which became one of North America’s first water slide parks. He quickly realized that, with all that he had learned from building and running his park, that he could use that knowledge and start a company which designed and built water slides, sharing the immense knowledge that he had gleaned from those early days with those who were interested in building their own parks. And thus, WhiteWater was born.
Throughout the following four decades, WhiteWater has grown into all corners of the globe—with offices in Shanghai, Barcelona, and Dubai—creating slides, rides, play structures, stationary wave machines, and more, bringing joy to guests young and old. At the awards ceremony, Chutter expressed gratitude to the people who enabled him to get to where he is today, saying, “thank you to my grandfather for exposing me to entrepreneurship my parents for introducing me to globalization, and my colleagues for finding the right people. What we do is make families happy, and that makes us happy."
Lui Petrollini, EY Entrepreneur of the Year Pacific Program Director revealed that the judges were very impressed with the way that Chutter positively approaches challenges head-on with perseverance and a true entrepreneurial spirit.
“When an economic downturn comes knocking, consumer discretionary spending is typically the first to go. But Geoff didn’t let this stop him in the early 2000s. Instead, he turned it into an opportunity and has made WhiteWater a force to be reckoned with ever since,” Petrollini said.
Despite setbacks in the global economy in recent years, WhiteWater has managed to grow by 185% in the past 14 years, thanks to the company’s customer focus, providing the most complete product range and services to meet parks product needs, and the foresight to enter emerging markets ahead of its competitors. WhiteWater has helped create more water parks in the world than the other slide suppliers combined, and over the last 39 years and has helped grow the industry globally, all from a seemingly unlikely corner of Canada.
“I realized that being an expert in life was knowing just a little bit more than the fellow beside you. It all comes down to the people. To my colleagues at WhiteWater and the clients who have believed in us and supported us throughout the years, I say a tremendous thank you,” Chutter remarked.
In addition to focusing on Chutter’s success, the judges also looked to the team culture he has fostered at WhiteWater, with its many long-term employees and well-loved social events. Everyone understands the part they play in delivering the company’s vision to “make joyful lasting memories for families everywhere”. This also fosters a spirit of charitable giving, and the company supports families via Give Kids the World Village in Florida and the local food bank, through which WhiteWater supports a family in need every Christmas. Chutter also serves as Treasurer and Chair of the Development Committee of Covenant House in Vancouver, a charity which provides services to Vancouver’s homeless and at-risk street youth.
The nature of an entrepreneur is to see opportunities and realize them. It is no coincidence that Chutter has dedicated his focus on this niche industry because it brings families together in play, something that has real meaning beyond any award. However, gaining recognition for leading it is nice, too!