From the Vancouver Sun today.
Whistler resort workers take over design company
Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, April 02, 2008
It's not often that employees work out a deal that sees them take over a business operation at North America's top-ranked mountain resort, but three Whistler men have done just that.
Whistler Blackcomb has transferred ownership of one of its mountain bike divisions to the employees, who will now operate it as a new independent company.
The move will see Tom Prochazka, Dave Kelly and Rob Cocquyt assume ownership of Gravity Logic Inc. [GLI], which has also signed a five-year contract with Whistler Blackcomb to supply trail design and layout services to the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
Under the new ownership, GLI will continue to offer design and development services not only to Whistler Blackcomb, but to ski resorts, summer resorts, municipalities and land managers from around the world, including China.
"Now we can be our own bosses and take the company in the direction the three of us would like to see it going," Kelly, 36, said in an interview. "We have 20-plus active clients all over the world. Whistler Blackcomb represents less than five per cent of our current estimated revenue."
According to a news release, Whistler Blackcomb established Gravity Logic almost two years ago and has worked on projects in more than a dozen countries. An annual mountain bike educational symposium called the Gravity Logic Forum was also developed.
However, Kelly said Whistler Blackcomb decided to sell the operation largely because of liability issues. He said they decided to purchase GLI as part of a deal that will see them take over design and construction of Whistler Blackcomb's bike park expansion into Blackcomb Mountain. "Our insurance premiums are huge, but we're willing to accept that risk."
Details of the sale were not disclosed.
Kelly said the new company will focus on their strengths - the three men have been involved in trail design in Squamish and Whistler for more than a decade - and that there's a "massive potential" for growth, especially because of Gravity's association with Whistler Blackcomb.
He said the Whistler bike park now has more than 100,000 paid visits per year - "nobody else in the world is even close" - but that it's still a relatively young sport.
"Our biggest challenge is convincing ski resorts that there's a viable market and that the investment's worth it. And it's not cheap to develop [bike parks]. The price for a kilometre of trail for a bike park is $30,000. And they typically need a minimum of 20 kilometres for a reasonably good product."
Kelly added that Gravity is also partnering with Kona Mountain bike parks (a division of Kona Mountain Bikes).
He said they expect 100-per-cent growth in revenue next year, with annual revenues reaching $500,000 in a couple of years.
"Since its inception, the interest in Gravity Logic has been overwhelming and has met, or exceeded, all of our expectations," Dave Brownlie, president and COO of Whistler Blackcomb, said in a statement. "It has grown to the point where it can more effectively achieve its original objective of acting as a catalyst to grow and develop the sport of mountain biking by becoming a stand-alone company."
Jeremy Roche and Rob McSkimming, the other two founding members of Gravity Logic, will continue working with Whistler Blackcomb - Roche as summer business development manager, and McSkimming as Whistler Blackcomb's VP of business development.
GRAVITY LOGIC INC.
No. of employees: Three owners, plus six part-time workers.
Expected annual revenues in two years: $500,000
Cost of building one kilometre of trail for a bike park: $30,000
Number of kilometres needed for a decent bike park: At least 20
Number of clients around the world: More than 20
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