How a zip wire provided a lifeline to a struggling regional economy.
Some of Britain’s rural regions are facing serious problems; with young people leaving, wages being pushed down and businesses closing. So what responsibility does a company have to the community in which it’s based?
For Sean Taylor, co-founder of adventure company Zip World, his business is squarely focused on being part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Zip World is a thriving business; initially operating from a disused quarry site in north Wales from 2013, it’s already grown its staff from eight to more than 300 and added another two sites.
“The success of the area isn’t down to us, it’s the people that have embraced the new industry that has rejuvenated the area,” says Mr Taylor.
The entrepreneur’s approach to the business is to emphasise the importance of local know-how and talent, while bringing in new ideas and innovation, ensuring that the company remains an attractive place to work.
To date, nearly a million visitors have experienced Zip World’s adventures, and much of their money has stayed in the area. “We source what we can locally, whether that’s the catering, civil engineers or the fabricator for our harnesses, who lives just up the road,” says Mr Taylor.
While some competitors in the sector pay seasonal workers minimum wage, Zip World takes a different approach. Mr Taylor adds: “We pay up to 37 per cent above the national living wage and we’re always thinking up new ways to reward and benefit employees.”
“Retaining highly trained people is a key part of our strategy to keep the business viable. Far from losing people to the cities, for some time now we’ve been attracting people into the area to work for us.”
The business is also investing £1.5m into innovation as it continually improves its offer to visitors. “If a fairly new business like ours can pay decent wages, source locally and innovate, other more established companies really don’t have an excuse,” says Mr Taylor.