EY Entrepreneur Of The Year brings together the world’s trail-blazing business leaders
EY CanadaThere’s no question that entrepreneurship is in Geoff Chutter’s blood. His grandfather’s business, Wright’s Canadian Ropes Ltd., was founded in 1930 in the building that currently houses Granville Island Market.
Fast forward nearly 90 years, and in 2019 Chutter became the first national EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Canada winner to hail from the Pacific region. He will take the same mandate upon which he founded WhiteWater to the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ competition this June—bringing water, sunshine, family and pure fun together.
He started the climb to business leadership when in 1980 he came across a small water slide park in Kelowna.
“I thought, ‘well that looks interesting,’ and in 1981, I built my first park in Penticton,” Chutter says. “That summer I signed four contracts—two in BC, one in Washington state, and one in Niagara Falls—to build parks in those places.”
Chutter essentially engineered the industry from the ground up, creating moulds for components and overseeing engineering, steel supports, tower construction and overall design for each park.
“I quickly learned that because there was no industry at that time, being an expert meant knowing a little more than the guy next to you,” Chutter says. “The business grew organically from there.”
Strategically, WhiteWater has taken a multi-product approach to manufacturing, which with its global customer base, has helped protect the company from the worst market swings. On a deeper level, Chutter’s success comes from characteristics he says are essential to entrepreneurship—being a people person and having a passion you can sell.
Growth, trust and inclusivity remain core to WhiteWater’s business model. The company has created parks in locales some would call impossible. WhiteWater led the creation of water parks in Dubai, which required a great deal of tact and trust building, but now brings people together for pure joy in this region.
Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, is a 100% accessible water and theme park created on the motto of inclusivity and joy for all. It was a family-built project with engineering and product customisations from WhiteWater helping to create a space children of all abilities can enjoy.
But all of WhiteWater’s 5000+ projects reflect this purpose and have brought WhiteWater to the global stage to celebrate Chutter’s entrepreneurial achievement.
“The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program also gives us an opportunity to show what our people have accomplished together,” Chutter says. “One of the keys to our success has been attracting team members based on a can-do attitude, positive thinking, honesty and integrity.”
Geoff Chutter now vies for the world title alongside unstoppable entrepreneurs from 44 counties. Visit www.ey.com/ca/eoy to learn more about the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Canada program. Nominations for the 2021 program will open in fall 2020.