Interview with Theodor Günther, COO of The Cable Park, Stockholm-Arlanda
A well-established cable park in an excellent location close to the Scandinavian metropolis of Stockholm. Find out about the history of this cable park, the vision of the family and why they aren’t in a rush to sell.
Hi Theodor, how and when did The Cable Park Stockholm-Arlanda get started?
It all started in the late ’90s. A neighbor introduced our family to wakeboarding behind the boat—he was one of the first people in Sweden to wakeboard. Eventually our entire family started riding and later also competing. In the beginning, wakeboarding in Sweden was really small—we were about 15-20 families total. Fast forward to 2007 and my parents came to the realization that if everyone in Sweden should have the possibility to wakeboard, this would only be achievable with a cable system. Not with a wakeboard boat that costs 1.5 million Swedish crowns! At the same time, the environmental aspect started becoming more and more important to my family and there, of course, a cable is unbeatable.
Below: Family Günther, from left to right: Maria Günther, Filippa Günther with daughter, Stefan Günther, Theodor Günther, Matilda Günther
How did the ball get rolling with “The Cable Park”?
My parents had heard a lot about cable systems in Germany, and flew out there to check it out. They met up with Christian von Lerchenfeld and visited five or six cables in the Munich area. After this trip the spark was ignited, but nevertheless it started out as a hobby project as my parents were both still in their regular jobs. It was the same year that they started looking for lakes. It all involved a lot of bureaucracy. It took 2.5 years to handle all the permits.
What made this process so complicated?
The hardest part was that at this time in Sweden almost no one knew what wakeboarding was. Plus, very few people had seen a cable park before. A small comparison: if you want to build a house, you can just point at another house and say, “This is what they did, we’re going to do the same.” But we weren’t able to do that with our cable.
“The authorities were concerned about what a cable park was, because they couldn’t picture it.”
In the beginning, for example, there was a completely unfounded concern related to the airport. There was a concern that birds might land on the cable. But then in 2011 we finally had reached our goal and the cable was there! We opened up at the same time as the other Swedish full-size cable in Fagersta.
Who is the target group for your cable?
We have always been very family-oriented and have consistently had the entire family in mind. From the beginning on we incorporated things like beach volleyball, trampolines, sauna, a skate ramp and a restaurant. If someone from a family doesn’t want to ride, they can still have a great time at our park!
What exactly is Stockholm-Arlanda? If you google it, you end up at an airport.
Yes, exactly (laughs). Arlanda is the international airport of Stockholm – everyone in Scandinavia knows it and has traveled through here at some point. We’re just 15 minutes from the terminals and our cable is pretty close to one of the runways. Arlanda lies between Sweden’s capital city Stockholm and Uppsala, another major city. In addition, we’re near the E4, which is the largest highway if you drive north from Stockholm. So this is a great location that’s easily accessible.
How many people live within an hour’s drive of you?
The region of Stockholm has 2.4 million residents and Uppsala has 178,000, and both are university cities. Another nearby city is Norrtälje, which has 200,000 residents in country houses during the summertime. So there are a lot of potential riders (laughs).
Why is the cable park in Stockholm Arlanda being sold?
The cable is being sold because we have a shift of generations ahead of us. My sisters and I are getting older. They now have their families and I’m graduating from university in 2 years. We all have stopped competing in wakeboarding and for us, there are simply other things on the horizon. We want to find people that are really into water sports and have a passion for developing the cable sport with a fresh outlook. Essentially these two factors—enriching the cable and developing the sport in Sweden—add up to be the same thing.
What assets and equipment are included in the purchase?
First of all: the land is leased from the airport, which is a great thing since they’re never going to do anything with the lake. For bureaucratic reasons the lake will always be preserved. Thus, we have a very long and good leasing agreement on the land. Furthermore, there is the brand “The Cable Park Stockholm, Arlanda” which we have built up over an 11-year period.
Tell us about the hard facts.
The hard facts are: the full-size cable, a large service building with office, storage and living area on the upper floor. On the ground floor, a restaurant, shop, two locker rooms with showers and toilets. There are four containers for equipment storage, a sauna, volleyball field, trampolines, a skate ramp and a dock house for rental equipment. Also a 520-meter-long floating walkway runs around the cable. The five-tower counter-clockwise Rixen cable was built in 2010. It’s 623 meters long with eight carriers. The cable has been continuously maintained through the years: we changed the running cables in 2015 and the whole system was totally serviced by 4Cable in 2020. The towers are 11 meters high and we have 14 obstacles. They are a combination of Rixen, Unit, and some locally produced and self-made features.
Tell us more about the restaurant.
The restaurant is fully equipped with a well designed kitchen. Pricewise we have always aligned ourselves very fairly. We wanted the restaurant to be complementary to cable riding, a place that our riders and other customers could enjoy. Inside and outside combined, we can accommodate 100-150 guests. The highlight is the beautiful wooden deck, together with the wooden grandstand with a direct view to the cable.
Tell us a little more about your customer base.
There are approximately 2000-2,500 visitors every summer. We have a slightly different approach to season pass riders. As season passes tend to fill the cable up quickly, we limit the season passes to 30 tickets each season. Our bestseller is the 2-hour riding pass with full equipment, because 90% of our riders are beginners.
What qualities are you looking for in a buyer?
We are looking for buyers that will invest their hearts fully into the cable park and who have a love and passion for water sports. Our aspiration for this place has always been to have great vibes and make a “second home” for our visitors.
“The Cable Park is our baby, and we have great interest in giving it into the best possible hands.”
What’s also important to us is that the new owner will continue to focus on growing the sport as a whole—not just the business.
When are you looking to sell the cable, and how do you picture the transition?
That depends on the experience of the buyer. We don’t want to rush anything, as we truly want to find the right people who we believe in. There’s no hurry. We can imagine finding a buyer that we can teach in the summer of 2023, and who then takes over the business independently in 2024.
“The buyers can be as inexperienced as we were back in 2011. They simply need to be passionate about water sports. We can teach them the rest.”
Is a buyout also conceivable for foreigners who want to invest in Sweden?
Yes, of course. We are also interested in international buyers as long as the mindset is right. There are two ways for international prospective interested parties. One is to completely buy our company, and the other and easier alternative would be to buy the assets through an already existing business. There’s no need for a Swedish company—you can own it internationally or through a Swedish subsidiary.
Building a new full-size cable in Sweden comes with many hurdles. Is your offer also aimed at people who are considering starting a new wakepark in Sweden themselves?
Yes, definitely. Based on our experience with the bureaucracy, buying an existing cable is a lot easier than building a new one. There are a lot of different permits to be granted, and finding a better location than ours in Stockholm is a definite challenge. Stockholm is “built on water,” but we have the privilege of being alone on our lake without any boats, neighbors or other activities. The lake is also only 4.8 meters deep on average, so we can offer Hawaiian-style water temperatures of 25-28° C during the summer.
You said that your family introduced cable wakeboarding in Sweden from the ground up. What do you mean by that?
I’ve spent half of my life, all the summers at the cable park. I got to witness it evolving from 10 or 20 people wakeboarding in Sweden in the ’90s, to it going up to more than 2,000 wakeboarders each summer at our cable. It’s crazy that not just the participants, but also the wider population now know what wakeboarding is. It amazes me again and again that people know about our cable, and that is something very special to me.
One last question, Theodor. What is your best memory from all the years at the cable?
All the summers of combining work with your passion. Being on water, having fun at the same time as you work. Hanging out with the people. Fixing obstacles, riding yourself, teaching people how to wakeboard. That’s definitely the best part of the job! Seeing people’s faces when they manage to ride a whole lap or manage to hit a kicker successfully for the first time. It’s the interaction with customers–that’s the best part of the job!
Amazing. Thanks for the chat, Theodor. Your pure enthusiasm for wakeboarding and its growth in Sweden has impressed us a lot. We wish you and your family all the best in your search for a new owner.
If the offer of the Günther family has intrigued you, please contact Theodor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested parties will receive a detailed PDF that presents the park in even more detail and includes revenue figures from previous years.
We hope you enjoyed this article.
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