Letnick: Massive Chinese waterpark order has implications in Lake Country

An impressive deal inked abroad that has positive implications for Lake Country.

When you think about big government priorities like growing our Asia-Pacific relationships, you might wonder how something that broad affects us here in the Okanagan. You might think that B.C.’s bigger urban centres are the only ones to benefit from these partnerships, but that’s simply not the case.

Take, for example, the Richmond-based company WhiteWater West Industries, which bills itself as the world’s foremost waterpark designer and Waterslide manufacturer. It recently inked an impressive deal abroad that has positive implications for Lake Country, which is home to one of its manufacturing facilities.

Yinji Dynasty’s Zhengzhou Yinji Kaifeng Waterpark in Henan, China has purchased more than $29-million worth of WhiteWater West products—the largest-ever single order for the global waterpark sector. The colossal waterpark boasts an indoor and outdoor portion, and anticipates a peak day capacity of 15,000 guests indoors and 32,000 outdoors.

Locals and visitors can expect to enjoy nine separate waterslide complexes, nearly 50 waterslides, and a number of custom structures and wave pools. Estimated to finish in summer 2015, Zhengzhou Yinji Kaifeng Waterpark will be China’s largest waterpark.

And how does WhiteWater West intend to fulfill such a large order, while maintaining all of its other business?

By hiring at least 10 more staff in Winfield. That’s 10 more people supporting themselves and their families, and contributing to our local economy with their earnings. Every single job created in this province is significant.

Success stories like these, big and small, are the reason why our government continues to build and strengthen B.C.’s relationship to new Asian markets like China, India, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines. We want to put B.C. products, like WhiteWater West’s water park parts, on the global map.

But that success doesn’t come without the hard work and persistence of the companies themselves.

Geoff Chutter, president and CEO of WhiteWater West, says “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.

He recounts “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.”

Businesspeople like Chutter keep pressing, despite naysayers or other obstacles, because they see the benefits of getting to ‘yes.’ 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.

And it’s the people holding those local jobs that mean the most to Chutter. He says he’s most proud of WhiteWater West’s employees, who are more than happy to 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.”

Indeed, it has.