‘We’re almost overwhelmed’: Job seekers are looking to hang loose at HangDog Outdoor Adventure
WILLIAMS TWP., Pa. — “Who wants to work in FUN?!?!” Mike McCreary asked recently on his LinkedIn page.
The answer? A lot of people, apparently.
And it means that while the latest jobs data paints a mixed picture of the economy, there’s one place in the Lehigh Valley you likely won’t see a "help wanted" sign hanging anytime soon.
McCreary is among the founders of the soon-to-open HangDog Outdoor Adventure, a four-story outdoor ropes course taking shape on a 4-acre lot off Cedarville Road in Williams Township.
- HangDog Outdoor Adventure had more than 150 job applicants in just a few days
- The four-story outdoor ropes course is taking shape off Cedarville Road in Williams Township
- It will also feature zip lines, free falls, a giant swing, outdoor beer garden, yard games, pizza, ice cream and more
“It was unbelievable. We posted the job openings, and got it on our website, finally. And holy cow, we're almost overwhelmed,” McCreary said Monday.
The project broke ground in April and is set to feature zip lines, free falls, a giant swing and more.
Construction of the course is nearing completion, and sod is set to transform muddy earth adjacent to the structure into a sprawling beer garden.
McCreary said he already can picture endless amounts of ice cream being passed through the window of a bright pink shipping container.
“Right now we're doing interviews almost every day, every 15 minutes,” McCreary said. "We just have so many applicants and so much interest. I think people are just looking for something fun to be a part of.”
‘The candidate pool has been amazing’
“We've got cook positions for the food trailer, we've got bartending positions in the brewery trailer, we've got ropes attendants, we've got customer service reps that help register people and run the retail store, as well. And there’s the ice cream,” McCreary said.
“So, there are lots of really fun jobs.
"And we’re getting such a great mix of people, from people who are calling and saying, ‘Hey, I’m looking for full-time work,’ or people who have awesome jobs already who are just looking for something else to do in the evenings and weekends to keep busy and have some fun.
“The candidate pool has been amazing.”
"We've studied all of that, like the outdoor stuff, whether it's a brewery, whether it's a playground, whether it's anything. And people want to be outside.”Hangdog Outdoor Adventure founder Mike McCreary
And with those jobs will come some perks, including what McCreary said will be “super steep discounts” for employees at another business he owns — Allentown’s Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.
“What's really cool is our employees at Grand Prix will get benefits here, and our employees here will get benefits at Grand Prix," he said. "So they can go enjoy two different types of venues.
“They get free racing and free climbing as part of their compensation, and I think a lot of our employees join us because they love the products and what we offer, and they want to be part of that.
“And sometimes you just don't realize exactly what people want to do. And you go, ‘Wow, we really nailed it.’ And we've studied all of that, like the outdoor stuff, whether it's a brewery, whether it's a playground, whether it's anything. And people want to be outside.”
‘The course is massive’
McCreary’s excitement was palpable as he walked the site on Monday.
“We're gonna be cranking hard from here to get these candidates hired," he said. "And for the ropes attendants, that process, that's a 30-hour training process to get them up to speed on what they need to do up in the sky.”
At the forefront of that education are the safety elements built in on a course that is fully customizable to the climber, with difficulty tied to the colors on the course and more than 115 elements to navigate.
“The course is massive, and the elements are impressive,” McCreary said.
“And to be honest, the system we're using is called the ClickIt system. It's very intuitive. It's easy to use. It's pretty cool. It just doesn't take a lot of expertise to navigate through, which is nice. The thing to know is that you’re always connected to the course.”
He said ropes attendants will learn rescue techniques, which will include an ability to assist climbers to get back up, pull them off the elements or physically lower them all the way to the ground.
Before people get up in the air — for what McCreary said should be “about a two-hour experience” — they’ll check in, sign a waiver, get briefed and get equipment.
“We’ll get you climbing, get you off, get you some ice cream, or beer or whatever," he said. "Whatever works, you know, to celebrate a great experience in the sky.”
Countdown to Opening Day
Asked whether an Opening Day was penciled on the calendar, McCreary said, "Our construction timeline looks really good.
“The team at Sage [Design-Build Inc.] is really doing an amazing job. We're hoping to be all buttoned up that first week in August. As quickly as we get that CO [certificate of occupancy], we're gonna be ready to rock and roll.”
McCreary said yard games, live music, food and beverages will help make HangDog a family-friendly atmosphere.
"We're hoping to be all buttoned up that first week in August. As quickly as we get that CO (certificate of occupancy), we're gonna be ready to rock and roll.”Hangdog Outdoor Adventure founder Mike McCreary
Food offerings will include fried chicken cooked in a Henny Penny pressure cooker, along with hand-cut fries, and pizza McCreary said will be a sourdough, wheat and soy-based product.
“We’re obsessed with it,” he said. “It’s a little bit different, it’s a little bit healthier, easier to digest and almost gluten-free. Not completely, but just less calories, less all bad stuff. All the good stuff is there, which tastes awesome.
“And we’re going to do a really nice salad. We’re going to do some pickle jars and some other small offerings. It’s going to be a really simple menu, but we want to execute it well.
"And it’s going to be nice because we’re going to encourage mobile ordering so you don’t have to get in line.”
“We're all about the party, and it’s all about the fun in the sky."McCready
The brewery will have six to eight beers on tap and a couple of seltzers, including an Orange Crush seltzer. It also will partner with Cellar Beast Winehouse in Easton on a lavender-infused cider, McCreary said.
There also will be adults and children’s slushies, canned cocktails and mocktails.
“We've got a really neat lighting system on the course," McCreary said. "We also have a sound system, so we can play some great tunes while you're climbing.
“We're all about the party, and it’s all about the fun in the sky. So, you know, whether you're climbing or not, you can be part of the experience as people zipline over the bar, or, you know, climbing right next to you. It's a pretty neat environment to be in.
"What we love about this spot is that you’ve got great highway visibility. But then you get here and we’re kind of in our own little oasis surrounded by beautiful trees. We can have a great time back here in our own little world.”