Robbie Oates brings a unique combination of skills, experiences, and professions to the team. He has been working in the challenge course construction field for over 43 years; 12 years in which he owned Phoenix Experiential Designs with Tom Zartman and Alan Frye.
Robbie's earlier professional background as an arborist, stonemason, landscaper, and outdoor educator, helped create a blend of skills and attitudes that suited his development and perspective as a challenge course builder, trainer, and inspector.
In the Challenge Course world, Robbie has worked in all aspects of the industry: Building, training, and inspecting. In addition, his leadership roles include on-site project manager, foreman, Director of International Operations, and company owner. Robbie has extensive international experience building both challenge courses and canopy access systems. He has worked in Indonesia, Ecuador, Peru, India, Tahiti, Mexico, Belize, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Germany, Israel, Canada, and Panama.
Robbie has also designed, built, and implemented extreme events and challenges for several TV shows, including MTV's "Road Rules", Animal Planet's "King of the Jungle" and NBC's "Endurance"
Robbie lives in an intentional neighborhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Boone, NC. with his wife of 42 years, Laurie Percival-Oates. Learning to help create successful teams and working within some of those teams has been instrumental in living in their community. They have two children: Jesse - 39 and Austin - 38. Both Jesse and Austin have traveled and worked with their dad since they were in their early teens.
In 2020 Robbie and Tom sold Phoenix and merged with Signature Research. As he moves toward retirement, he is climbing less and consulting more with goal of becoming of becoming a full time husband for the first time in 42 years and helping raise his grandchildren.
Austin Oates grew up in the world of outdoor education and recreation and this taught him the value of learning by changing your perspective.
After graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in Industrial Design, he has worked around the world, first with Alpine Towers from 2005 to 2009 and with Phoenix Experiential Designs from 2009 on.
He has built and consulted on walkways from South America to Africa. He continues to push new ways for the public to experience the natural world around us.
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