When Geoff Chutter left his career as a chartered accountant in 1981, we doubt he could have predicted the success he would have with Whitewater West. Beth Whittaker takes a look at what has become one of the biggest water park attraction manufacturers in the world
Being described as the “elephant in the living room” would usually have negative connotations attached to it. However, when Rick Root, president of the World Waterpark Association, referred to Whitewater’s position within the water park industry in exactly this way, the manufacturer took it as a compliment and rightly so.
Whitewater West has become one of the largest designers and manufacturers of water parks and waterpark attractions in the world and while size in itself is not particularly significant, the company has achieved this status through a combination of high quality, responsive service, competitive pricing and a dedication to new product leadership.
“We have flourished internationally in part because three of the four (company) principals were raised either in whole, or part, outside of North America,” Chutter told InterPark. “As a result, we have installed in most of the developed countries in the world, including the world’s largest water park – Caribbean Bay in Seoul, Korea; the world’s largest wave pool – Sunway Lagoon in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the world’s largest waterslide complex in Kobe, Japan; as well as installations for Cedar Fair, Six Flags, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Universal Studios, Atlantis Bahamas and Dubai, Center Parcs and Disney, to name a few.”
And while Chutter admits that the worldwide recession will be the biggest challenge for the industry and Whitewater West over the next year, he believes that a changing world continues to provide new opportunities for the company.
“When 9/11 hit the US, it caused Americans to want to stay close to home, which resulted in a boom in the resort sector,” he said. “Global warming, perhaps sadly, has resulted in expanded markets and a focus within Whitewater of ‘greening’ our manufacturing processes.
“While the current economic situation may have taken a shine off the Middle East, other markets, geographic and sectoral, have emerged in its place and we are well poised to assist operators with creative financing in the introduction of low cost, high entertainment attractions during these tough times.” 
Chutter also notes that there has been a redefined focus on the family unit, which has necessitated ensuring a high entertainment level for each of the demographic age groups within the family. 
“The industry has recognised that shared experiences are simply more fun than solitary experiences,” he said. “For example, the industry moved from body slides in the early 80s to inner-tube rides in the late 80s to family rides in the 90s. Thus, for family entertainment, the water park has emerged as one of the sole activities that can satisfy the entire family.”
A measure of the company’s success lies in its achievement at the 2008 IAAPA trade show in Orlando, where it won the Best New Waterpark attraction award for the Family Boomerang. With the addition of the six-passenger raft, the Family Boomerang is widely recognised as one of the best raft rides in the industry.
“We’ve also introduced the world’s largest interactive waterplay system to Hershey Park in Hershey, PA; Chimelong Waterpark in Gaungzhou, China; and this year to Daemyung Vivaldi Park in Korea and Cowabunga Bay in Salt Lake City, Utah,” added Chutter. “Our manufacturing of the Master Blaster, FlowRider and the bowl rides have also proven to be highly successful. This year we will introduce the AquaLoop to North America and a series of family rides, taking the industry to a new level.”
While I am sure Chutter was, and still is, ambitious about what his company can achieve, when he started out, back in 1981, with that first waterpark in Canada, he probably had no idea that almost 30 years later he would have installed attractions in the majority of major locations across the world and have over 400 employees. 
There is no doubt that as the industry continues to expand into different geographic areas, so will Whitewater’s position and it will want to maintain its status. It might just, however, need a larger living room.