By: Curt Andrews, owner of Treetop Explorer
My wife Jennifer and I experience life from a perspective unfamiliar to most—the canopies of trees. Together we share a passion for tree climbing, and with our business, Treetop Explorer based in Waukesha, we can share our adventures and climbing experiences with others.
How did you start Treetop Explorer?
Combining my professional background as an arborist with Jen’s owning an Irish pub allowed us to establish a business based on recreational tree climbing, with a heavy emphasis on the customer experience.
Treetop Explorer gives families, friends and work teams the opportunity to connect with nature and themselves in a way that many haven’t experienced since childhood, or at all, by climbing trees and overcoming their own limitations. Offerings range from rec climbs and guided excursions to aerial yoga, all of which are conducted with professional equipment and certified instructors.
What sets Treetop Explorer apart?
Treetop Explorer sets itself apart by providing a unique product not many other outdoor rec companies offer, while maintaining enough flexibility to bring our product to communities all across Wisconsin. We are able to maintain a large service area by identifying climbing trees in Wisconsin communities, and then bringing our equipment and services to our customers. We expose people to a recreational sport they didn’t know existed.
For us, Treetop Explorer means a lot more than simply exposing newcomers to exercise and the outdoors. We also see it as a business that allows climbers to reflect on themselves from a new perspective. We provide the tools to get people out of their comfort zone, but they do it themselves. We’ve received feedback from parents letting us know what a positive impact the experience had on their children.
What are your biggest challenges as a new business?
As our business continued to grow, we partnered with the business consultants at the Waukesha County Center for Growth to plan for the future and develop a growth model that would be sustainable for Treetop Explorer.
Since then, we have put financial tools and planning processes in place that will help our team make informed decisions as our business expands. Projecting the bottom-line impact of various decisions ahead of time is key to success, as a healthy bottom-line means Treetop Explorer can keep delivering exceptional recreational and social-impact experiences.
What have been your biggest successes?
Before doing all that, we had to spend a lot of time up front to understand our target market. Our business consultants helped us understand the financial aspects of the business and profitability of various offerings for outdoor recreation. Our business taps into a consumer movement driven by people’s desire to get in touch with nature.
We’d like to expand the number and reach of both our learn-to-climb classes and excursion climbs in the future. Treetop Explorer’s learn-to-climb classes cover what is necessary to safely solo-climb a tree; the excursion climbs offer half and full-day adventure climbs around one of Wisconsin’s beautiful canopies. We also plan to continue following the growth plan we’ve built, with the ambition of continuing to grow our internal staff of passionate climbers as well as growing to reach new customers. We’re excited to take Treetop Explorer to the next level.