Curt & Jennifer Andrews experience life from a perspective unfamiliar to most, the canopies of trees. Together they share a passion for tree climbing, and with their business, Treetop Explorer based in Waukesha, the couple can share their adventures and climbing experiences with others.
Combining Curt’s professional background as an arborist with Jen’s owning an Irish pub allowed them 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.
Bringing the Experience to You
Treetop Explorer sets itself apart by providing a unique product not many other outdoor rec companies offer, while maintaining enough flexibility to bring their product to communities all across Wisconsin. Curt and Jen are able maintain a large service area by identifying climbing trees in Wisconsin communities, and then bringing their equipment and services to their customers. “We expose people to a recreational sport they didn’t know existed,” Curt said.
For Curt and Jennifer, Treetop Explorer means a lot more than simply exposing newcomers to exercise and the outdoors. They also see it as 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,” Curt said. “We’ve received feedback from parents letting us know what a positive impact the experience had on their children.”
Projecting Beyond the Business Model
As their business continued to grow, Curt and Jen partnered with the Small Business Development Center at the Waukesha County Center for Growth to plan for the future. Waukesha County SBDC consultant Scott Alderton helped them develop a growth model that would be sustainable for Treetop Explorer.
“Working together, we have put financial tools and planning processes in place that will help the team make informed decisions as the business expands,” Scott said. “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.”
Beyond simply helping to develop a business model, Scott and the SBDC worked hard to be a valuable source of information about the outdoor recreation market as a whole. “We spent a lot of time up front in our process to understand the financial aspects of the businesses and profitability of various offerings for outdoor recreation,” Scott explained. “[Treetop] taps into a consumer movement driven by people’s desire to get in touch with nature.”
Accomplishments with Waukesha County SBDC:
- Business plan projections
- Business model planning
- Information & resource hub
Elevation & Expansion
Curt has expressed the desire to expand the number and reach of both his 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. Scott, Curt and Jen also plan to continue following the growth plan they built together, with the ambition of continuing to grow their internal staff of passionate climbers as well as growing to reach new customers. “Scott has been great at taking us to the next level and polishing our business model,” Curt said. “SBDC helped us plan today, for tomorrow.”