Whether it’s designing and building water slides for cruise ships such as the Costa Concordia that sank in Italy a few years ago or for celebrities such as Eddie Van Halen and Celine Dion, WhiteWater West Industries in Richmond is the largest designer and supplier of its kind in the world.
President and CEO, Geoff Chutter says the company started in 1980 and has grown to include 600 staff in 20 offices around the world.
While WhiteWater builds waterslides, wave pools and water parks, the company also creates and manufactures amusement park experiences which range from water rides such as log flume rides to interactive play structures.
While the slides, waterparks and amusement features may be the star attraction, Chutter says his employees are key to the company’s success. “We’ve changed the way we hire. We say to HR, focus on mindset over skillset as we move forward. It’s getting the right people on the bus.”
He adds that an employee’s attitude is everything. You can teach people but, if they’re not a good fit it can have a major effect on business.
A positive outlook isn’t just for staff; it spreads to the business side as well. Learning to not take no for an answer is essential especially when expanding into hot new markets which include China and other parts of Asia. “They said that Japanese people don’t like the sun. A waterpark won’t work. Our biggest day is 69,000 people in one day in a Tokyo water park.”
Expanding access to priority markets including Asia, Europe and the United States gives B.C. businesses and communities of all sizes the potential for immense growth and an opportunity to strengthen local economies and provide jobs.
One of the things that Chutter is most proud of though isn’t the celebrities or grand projects he’s worked on. It’s the employees who stick around. “We’re a company where people don’t leave, they stay. We take that as a big compliment. It’s worked out well.”
Chutter says he likes to hear people who say: darn it’s Friday. I don’t go to work tomorrow.