When we founded Go Ape in 2002 we (Rebecca and Tristram Mayhew) had very clear views about the culture of the company we wanted to be a part of and grow. When we asked Will Galbraith (a friend from Tris’s army days) to join a few months later, and Jerome Mayhew (Tris’s brother) to join in 2006, as shareholder directors, they bought into the shared vision for the company and its values
For all of us Go Ape has felt more than just a job. It has felt more like another member of our families. In the first few years the business needed us to be hands-on ‘parents’, nurturing Go Ape’s growth and development. But now nearly 20 years on, Go Ape has grown up and matured and no longer needs us to the same extent.
We believe that it’s the right time for our Go Ape child to transition away from a parental owned and led structure towards a confident, independent future, where everyone in Go Ape has a meaningful stake in its ownership.
We have considered many different possible paths and met various potential investors in 2019, both private equity and other companies in the leisure sector. We now know we would never be truly comfortable selling the business to outside investors.
We knew we needed to find a better route to protect the culture, values and integrity of Go Ape for all.
Since 2019 we have consulted widely and met a range of businesses which have followed different paths in their transition from founder owned.
We asked ourselves what was important to us and the business:
- We wanted to safeguard Go Ape’s brand, values, purpose, and independence for the long term.
- We wanted to give back to the people that give so much to Go Ape and let them share more fully and equitably in the future direction and success of Go Ape.
- We wanted a fair return for our life’s work without imperilling the business – not achievable by selling to the highest bidder.
- And we all wanted to remain connected with our business family for the long term, as ‘parents’ would, feeling like we had set the family up as well as we could.
We trust the tree-mendous team we have in place to deliver a successful future for Go Ape together. We didn’t want to hold them back from growing and developing together by not giving them their independence.
We want to hand over control to Go Ape’s employees, permanently, but didn’t want to sever the umbilical cord between us, the founders, and our Go Ape family.
We believe there is no one better placed than Go Ape’s employees to keep alive Go Ape’s values, be guardians of its purpose and deliver long term future growth and success for everyone.
We believe that a better route to deliver all these objectives is to transfer 90% of our shares into an Employee Ownership trust, to own on behalf of all current and future employees.
Find out more about BETA Member Go Ape here