A Jewish-owned business on Hilton Head Island has attracted more than 100,000 visitors since its launch five years ago.
ZipLine Hilton Head opened on the island in 2011. It provides a two-hour tour through the trees while hooked to interconnected wires.
“You start low and slow with two guides,” Pam Freedman, who serves as marketing director for her husband’s businesses, said in a phone interview. “You get higher, longer, faster, and you can see the vistas, the marshes. Sometimes you see a dolphin. It’s such a spectacular view, a lovely vista of the Lowcountry, but you’re at the highest point in Hilton Head that the public can go, higher than the Harbour Town Lighthouse.”
Two years ago the parent company added the adjacent Aerial Adventure Hilton Head, offering challenge courses on ropes high above the tree canopy.
“We saw this concept in Europe. They’re designated by color according to ability, so the little guy does the green courses, and military types like to do the high, challenging black ones. It’s like a playground in the sky,” Freedman said.
“We like to say we have highs in the Lowcountry. We’ve brought new thrills to a community that has a lot of wonderful things but always could use more. It has great beaches, great biking, great golf, but it can embrace newer kinds of sports.”
The original plan for the business was far different, however. Freedman’s husband, Roger, wanted to construct a housing development on the 8.5 acres of Broad Creek Marina he bought in 2003, but the subsequent real estate market slump put an end to that idea.
“The recession came along, so what do you do instead of building 37 houses? You build a two-hour zip tour. It’s a logical progression, right?” Freedman said, laughing.
The couple, married in 1998, had moved to South Carolina from Connecticut. Roger Freedman was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and, according to his wife, was instrumental in bringing cable television to Poland. She at one time ran a high-profile public relations firm in New York.
“He’s the quintessential entrepreneur,” she said of her husband. “He’ll never retire; he’s got 12 ideas going right now. His enjoyment is developing new projects, and he’s been very successful and creative in this one.”
Pam Freedman is on the board of the local Boys & Girls Clubs of America chapter, and many of the group’s young members regularly visit the zip line and Aerial Adventure. She said an unexpected benefit of watching youngsters use the facilities is the increase in self-confidence they often gain. “It made me appreciate what we created a little bit more because I had not seen that sort of change in someone,” she said.
“I’ve done it myself 11 or 12 times now; I’m starting to lose track,” Freedman said. “We both have a fear of heights, but it does build your confidence; that’s what zip-lining and all these new activities do.”