By: Zachary Winfield
I joined Zoo Advisors a bit over 8 years ago in August of 2014, just prior to the AZA National Conference that was held in Orlando that year. After four years as part of the administrative team at Reid Park Zoological Society in Tucson, AZ, and another 18-or-so months with another consultancy, I felt that I’d finally found my home. At the time, it was David Walsh, Kathy Wagner, and me. Three people, maybe a dozen or so clients, and zero office space.
Nearly a decade later, there are now 14 of us and somewhere north of 125 unique clients. While we still don’t have any office space, we’ve grown in just about every other way possible. As new team members have come aboard, our capacity to support our clients in new and interesting ways has expanded. What started out as a laser focus on zoos and aquariums now includes botanic gardens, conservation organizations, and public green spaces.
And the truth is that we’ve actually been working with non-zoological clients for a couple of years now, albeit under a different banner. For those projects, we called ourselves The Tenby Group. Same people, same services, different name. As it turns out it, this was a short-lived strategy (R.I.P. The Tenby Group, we hardly knew ye).
My biggest takeaway from that brief period was that it was a strategic misstep—what started out as a purposeful attempt to silo the zoo work from the garden work became a real handicap. What we all came to realize is that there is so much that zoos can learn from gardens; that gardens can learn from aquariums; that public parks can learn from zoos. By creating an artificial firewall between the professions we serve, we had limited our ability to facilitate the spread of that knowledge.
Among the many discussions we had during our rebranding process was one where we asked ourselves questions about who we are as a company. What are our values? Why do clients hire us? What’s important to us? And we kept coming back to words like collaboration, leadership, and inclusion. And we came to realize that the dual-branded concept that at first was meant to give us flexibility had actually become a huge hindrance towards those ideas. Obviously, it had to go.
Enter Canopy. If you’ve read David or Lori’s posts on this topic, you already know about the philosophy and associations behind why we chose that brand identity (if not, give them a click). Even setting those aside, at its most fundamental physical essence a canopy is a lush and lively system that covers everything—every flavor of flora and fauna in its shade.
As Canopy Strategic Partners, we continue to champion leaders, build communities, and collaborate with mission-driven organizations to create a better future for the planet. Our name sums this all up. A canopy nourishes, it protects, and it encourages growth. A canopy is everything we aspire to be.