Rick Hunter, President and CEO of ProSlide Technology Inc., Ottawa
"I always thought I'd go into the ski business. I was on Canada's alpine team from '69 to '74. Then I raced on the world pro circuit while doing my MBA. But the waterslide business has the thrill of skiing-putting people through G-forces and curves and sudden drops, and they don't need any skill. I started ProSlide in 1986. I still love the old slides, but we've innovated way past those. We were the first to do these huge slides where you're in a raft with a bunch of people. We've got headfirst ProRacer slides. We've got the Tornado, the Behemoth Bowl, and now we're on to HydroMagnetic Rockets, which go uphill. In the bottom of the boat, there's a piece of steel. And magnets on the slide pull it along. We were the first to do that with waterslides.
Our biggest slide is at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, in Louisville. It has five major drops and upward inclines. It's got dark areas with back-to-back curves. There are two drops of 30 or 40 feet. The high point is six storeys-they call it the Deluge.
The No. 1 water park in the world is Disney's Blizzard Beach. Well, ProSlide built all 34 of its rides. And we do 90% of the Six Flags parks. It's all made in Canada. For one park in Canary Islands, we're shipping 20 or 25 slides. Projects generally cost from $500,000 to $5 million. We've got 30 employees. And we've busted way past $30 million in revenue.
People always ask us, "How come there's a waterslide company in Canada?" We're dealing with huge parks in Bali, Cancún and Australia, and they're buying waterslides from Canadians. They just don't understand it."-As told to Chris Nuttall-Smith