Samuel Cadotte-Holler, owner and director of Zipline MTL, kept us engaged with his charming smile throughout our entire interview. As June 2020 comes to a close, the businessman has already reopened several of his businesses in the Old Port. You have surely passed by one of his ventures if you’ve been down there: The urban zipline is his. Same with the M. Churros & Mme Banane food trucks which he owns with his friend and business partner Phillippe Therrien, as well as Smoothies & Limonades. Samuel’s creations are many throughout the area because this business owner is so entrenched in his role as “fun provider”. And when you get to know him a little, you will see just how apt that title is.
“Since we reopened, we have seen a new type of clientele,” Samuel Cadotte-Holler prefaces. “Before, we had mostly families, but now, we’re seeing a lot of 18-25 year-olds and mostly during the late evening. We have become a nice group activity as we wait for the terraces and restaurants to progressively reopen.” So has the zipline become the trendy new destination for the younger crowd? We think so – and with all the safety precautions you could ever hope for. “When a group walks in, we test each person to ensure they are all sober, which creates a safe experience in a friendly atmosphere. We realized at one point that we had even become a popular first date spot for Tinder users to meet up. There are also our regulars too, it’s really exciting to see what changes come next!” Samuel laughs. With vacations and trips being affected by the pandemic, the zipline has proven itself an instant classic to everyday Vieux excursions. “We have a local promotion going on right now, where we have discounted admission by 25%. So for only $14.99, you can have a fun time at an affordable price,” he explains.
“Our youngest client was 2 and a half years old, our oldest, 93.” Samuel says with bright eyes. He started this business six years ago. This prodigious entrepreneur launched his own snow clearing company at 14, then after finishing his studies, traveling the world and embarking on the start of his career in the transportation sector, he came back to the essence of how he runs business: having a company that grows, a trade that he loves, and a team that supports him. “We are a really close team, and that is what has allowed us to weather this pandemic,” Samuel emphasizes, restating the importance of those he has had around him through his various ventures. He has such pride in and gratitude for those who embarked on this urban zipline (the only one in Montreal) adventure, as well as his seasonal employees. “We have fewer workers this year than before, which has raised a few doubts and concerns this season, but we’re still coming back!”
He recently renewed his lease in the Old Port. “2019 was our best year!” Samuel is over the moon about it, but still has his feet firmly on the ground. “My father passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. Every time you think that things are going to be better, only to receive more bad news, you will be devastated. It has taught me not to just hope that everything will be okay. I expect the worst, and when things turn out for the better, I feel a great sense of relief,” Samuel emphasizes. He has lived through the vagaries of the pandemic with plenty of stresses, wondering until very recently if they would be able to attract any customers.
“The good news is that we’re financially solid and, I repeat, a super team. But I know this isn’t the case for many SMEs out there. I am very thankful for what we have built and for the closeness it has engendered among the Old Port sponsors.” This developing closeness can also be seen between Old Montreal and the Old Port, great neighbours and choice vacation destinations this summer. “People attract people, everyone feels the need to come together,” the businessman states, proceeding to name off other entrepreneurs that he works closely with, like those behind Bota Bota.
“We have several arrangements and are part of several “passports”,” Mr. Cadotte-Holler explains. “You can gain access to the Quick Jump if you make group reservations. We also work with Guidatour and Voiles en Voiles, in the “Montreal Passport” organized by Tourisme Montreal and the Tourist Alliance mentioned by the prime minister.” The entrepreneur hopes that Montrealers will be out in full this summer, preparing their visit to their neighbours on the river.
Though Samuel spends many hours on-site in preparation for the busy season, this young father appreciates the flexibility of owning his own business. “I have more time in the winter, and often, my 1 year 3 month old son, Zach, also comes to work with me; he is so sociable! I may move a little slower when I have him there, but I love it. And seeing the family during the day is a blessing, especially now... because my wife and I are expecting our second baby!” he exclaims, enraptured. You can certainly tell, this thirty-year old has everything going for him!