Behind the Smile with Jori Kirk, Cypress Hills Eco-Adventures
I was born and raised in Saskatchewan and left for a period of time to earn my Bachelors of Commerce in Marketing and Tourism from the University of Calgary. The dream for this business began to take shape in April 2010 and I founded the first location in November of that year. I think what sets me apart is my passion for my business and for Saskatchewan. That passion has helped me overcome barriers that many entrepreneurs wouldn’t, but as my business grows, I can't help but continue to celebrate this place where I started – because the motivation to start this business stems from a desire to give people a Saskatchewan experience they didn’t know existed. My company and other partners have worked very hard to give thousands of visitors a completely new perspective on this province – literally. From way up in the trees, we have challenged stereotypes that Saskatchewan is flat and boring and proven we are young and progressive, and we are exciting.
What is it about your location that makes you and your customers smile?
Cypress Hills Eco-Adventures and our second location, Elk Ridge Eco-Adventures, are both located in Saskatchewan, Canada. This great province is found in western Canada between the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba, and directly north of the U.S. states of North Dakota and Montana. Along with a rich mix of history and culture, Saskatchewan offers visitors endless freshwater fishing, water-based recreation opportunities, abundant wildlife, uncrowded parks, outdoor adventures like canoeing and horseback riding (and zip line canopy tours!), farm vacations and amazing and accessible golf. It's a province that most people know little about unless you have a family connection to the place. In some ways, I think it makes me smile because its such an undiscovered place for most and the experiences available always take you above and beyond your expectations.
Can you tell us more about Cypress Hills Eco-Adventures?
Our company is a unique one to the province of Saskatchewan. We are the only company that offers guided zip line canopy tours through two very different ecosystems, the lodgepole pine forest of the Cypress Hills and the boreal forest of central Saskatchewan. It isn't just about our tours though as we offer multiple outdoor adventure activities that are focused around other belayed activities as well. Our award-winning two hour zip line canopy tour is the real draw; we challenge perspectives and stereotypes of our province all while helping you overcome your fears of heights! Speaking of awards…we were just name the 2014 Hilton Worldwide Small to Medium-Sized Business of the Year at the recent Canadian Tourism Awards! Very pumped about that!
What is it about the eco-adventures that makes your customers smile?
After fours years of operating in our province, it is becoming clear that it isn't what we do that makes our customers smile, it's our philosophy and what we stand for that people love. At our locations, it’s all about having fun, pushing your boundaries, and finding your happy dance. That’s what we believe. Cypress Hills Eco-Adventures and Elk Ridge Eco-Adventures were created specifically to pass on those concepts to you while offering up an experience like no other in Saskatchewan! Our knowledgeable, friendly and passionate staff truly love providing the best outdoor adventure activities in the prairies so we hope people don't just "zip" on by Saskatchewan but rather stop and hang out in the trees with us! On top of that, we partner with amazing technology companies to make our business better and also take environmental stewardship very seriously. We donate 1% of our gross revenues to local environmental not-for-profits and our business is also carbon neutral.
Can you share an experience with your business that made you smile?
A smile comes to my face every time that we begin a new season. During training, I love to see new zip line guides get better technically and buy into our company philosophy. Always a happy moment when I see the light bulb switch on in their eyes!