Highlights from a Q&A with Surf Snowdonia Founder Andy Ainscough
- If it weren’t for his old man, Snowdonia wouldn’t exist: “My dad bought the Surf Snowdonia site in 2007…. We were going to develop it with a partner, for leisure. But, with my background as an outdoor instructor and helping run a few leisure centres, it was a natural progression for me.”
- He didn’t meet with the founders of Wavegarden until 2012: “What we found really interesting was that they didn’t want to just sell on the prototypes – they could have sold them to China or elsewhere. But Wavegarden wanted to know everything about the business to make sure that the surf school would be run correctly, whether there was a surf shop and if would be selling the right things, and also that the whole business fitted really well. They liked the fact that we are a family business and that we paid particular attention to detail. This project was the first big business thing that I’d done.”
- Before breaking ground, a survey indicated that he could expect approximately 70,000 paying customers a year: “You’ve got to do your research obviously and you’ve also got to follow your nose as well. We thought this could work, if we built it and it was impressive, then people would come.” (In 2016, Surf Snowdonia counted over 150,000 visitors, over double their original estimates.)
- The site for Snowdonia was a huge risk: “When we first came to the site it was contaminated and derelict. The site previously housed an aluminum factory which had closed in 2007, before we bought the land. 120 jobs had been lost, and we weren’t sure when we came in whether they’d blame us…Eventually, we moved the first 10 diggers and 10 dump trucks on site to get rid of the concrete and employed 60 men – the locals became impressed and thought, “wow, they’re actually doing it.”
- Andy’s still just a surfer at heart: “My end goal is all about the surfing. I’d like to get to a point in my life when I can surf at 5 o’clock every day.”
In case you missed it, watch the preview of Andy’s interview at Surf Park Summit 2 or sign up as a Surf Park Insider Member today to view the full version.
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