Matt Collingwood + Tamsin Plaxton
CO- FOUNDERS, TAMWOOD GROUP OF COMPANI E S
It took just two chats for Matt Collingwood and Tamsin Plaxton to start a business together. The Ontario natives met 25 years ago while on holiday in Hood River, Oregon, right after they'd graduated from university and were preparing to start their careers in Vancouver–in finance and law, respectively. Both had experience operating summer camps. “It came up in literally our second conversation,” Plaxton recalls. “Matt asked me, `Tamsin, what would you do if you could do something else?' And I said, `Honestly, I would run a summer camp.”
That struck a chord with Collingwood, so the two opened their first camp in Whistler in 1993. The North America–wide business has grown to three English language schools, three career colleges and seven international summer camps, which attract attendees from across the globe.
The founders have faced challenges along the way because so many things–from the SARS scare of years past to the current U.S. government's immigration policy–impact their company. “There's some things you just can't prepare yourself for,” Plaxton acknowledges. “But it's about having good safety policies and being very careful about how we travel with our kids and where we go.” –N.C.