Employee Spotlight: Peter Cooper

In an office filled with a few hundred busy employees, there’s a good chance you won’t know everyone on a personal level. Having been around almost since the inception of WhiteWater, though, there’s a high chance you’ve at least interacted with Peter Cooper (“Pete” as we know him). As the SlidePath Manager, Pete manages a dynamic and skilled team of engineers, designers, and drafters. At the WhiteWater office, you can often feel laughter vibrating across the floor coming from the SlidePath department as the team jokingly pokes fun at Pete or vice versa. “As busy as my team gets, I think it’s important to be able to joke around with your colleagues every once a while. There’s creativity in what we do so we need to interact,” said Pete.

At the last Employee Communications Meeting, Geoff Chutter presented Pete with the Tat Won Vertical Leadership Award; a distinguished award that not only honours a late colleague and designer, Tat Won, but recognizes the efforts and commitments of peers inspiring and empowering his or her colleagues. No matter how busy Pete gets, he always manages to find the time to assist others when they’ve got questions. But whatever you do don’t disrupt him from 10:00 to 10:05 A.M. because that’s when Pete indulges in his daily snack—four President’s Choice ‘The Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies,’ to be exact.

How long have you worked at WhiteWater?

I formally started working for WhiteWater in 1985 when the company I was working for, Brookside Engineering, merged with WhiteWater. But I’ve actually been working with WhiteWater since 1981 when we helped Geoff Chutter build his first water park.

How did you get started in SlidePath designing?

I started off as a Civil Technologist when I was at Brookside Engineering where we did a lot of municipal designs, subdivision work, surveying, designing services, road design, and drawings. After the company merged with WhiteWater, my focus shifted to water slides and so did my work.

What does your team do?

In the SlidePath department, we create water slide designs that are safe, fun, visually striking, and consider space requirements. We work closely with many departments across WhiteWater and the client to identify what kind of water slides they want while also considering site constraints. The SlidePath department then proposes a slide layout, which then gets handed to the Drafting team where an SK (Sketch Addenda) drawing is produced. On average, my team produces about 30 SK drawings a week; that’s an immense amount of work that goes through our department. Honestly, I’m so grateful to be able to manage a team that is not only so inspiring and hardworking, but a team that will challenge me and make me look at things in a different perspective. I couldn’t do what I do without them.

What drew you to WhiteWater?

Well, I didn’t have a choice since my company merged with WhiteWater (laughs), but what keeps me around all this time is the collaboration between everyone in the office. In the SlidePath department, we collaborate with Architecture, Engineering, Estimating, Mechatronics, and even the clients to do what we do. Together, we create a product that puts a smile on guests’ faces as they come down a WhiteWater water slide.

How would you describe what does a typical day look like for you?

My job is almost like trying to solve a giant puzzle and I need to figure out not only where the pieces of the puzzle go, but what are the pieces. I love a good challenge. If someone says that we cannot do something, it only drives me to figure out how to do it. Because of my curiosity, my day-to-day work is always different. It’s consistently fast-paced and filled with challenges, but it’s fun—it’s chaotic fun!

What is your favourite project you’ve worked on at WhiteWater?

My favourite project is what we built at Rokko Island in Kobe, Japan. This was a project we worked on in the 90s. The water park had about 50 different water slides with a total water slide length of 4.5 kilometers all built into a circular formation in a very compact and tight space. It looked like a plate of spaghetti! I think this is the project I’m most proud of because since it was the 90s, we were very limited with the technology at the time. We spent a lot of time checking and planning to ensure everything fitted perfectly in its own spot. The whole project was so intricate and difficult—the type of challenge we love! Unfortunately, in 1995, after the Great Hanshin earthquake, the bridge that connected the city to Rokko Island was unstable and closed down. Although the water park was fine and the water slides still worked great, tourism to Rokko Island suffered, which eventually led to the closure of the water park. But it was an amazing water slide complex!

What’s your favourite part about working at WhiteWater?

My favourite part about working at WhiteWater is the passion that’s felt throughout the office. All my colleagues are passionate and dedicated about their job because we all truly produce amazing stuff! I’m incredibly humbled for being given the Tat Won Vertical Leadership Award, but I don’t think I deserve it when I work with so many amazing colleagues.

If you could switch your job with anyone from the company, who would it be?

To be honest, I don’t know what else I would do because I love my job. I get to interact with so many different departments, so it’s really entertaining and interesting. I think I would keep my job thanks!

Which is your favourite slide?

My favourite waterslide is the 14-foot wide Family Raft Ride we use to sell. I remember riding one in Denver with Bruce Bradley. We were high up on the wall in one curve and Bruce seemed like he was just hanging in the air directly above me. It was pretty wild and a lot of fun.

Dawn Kirby