Earlier this summer, David Busch was considering bringing on a financial partner to help his chain of water parks expand even faster. But he decided against it.The founder and president of Hawaiian Falls says he didn’t want a private equity firm to change the culture at his company, which has successfully joined with cities to open a string parks across the Metroplex.“As long as we can hold onto this company with 100 percent control, that is really what we want to do,” he said. “We run it more than just for business purposes.”Growth has not been a problem for Hawaiian Falls, which has won deals to operate parks in Mansfield, Roanoke, Garland, The Colony and Waco. The Irving-based company is working out the final details with White Settlement for a water park as well as an “adventure park” that Busch thinks will draw from throughout Fort Worth and as far west as Abilene. Another is planned in Pflugerville, near Austin. Both are planned to be open for next summer’s season.Beyond that, Hawaiian Falls is looking to expand out of state. Two parks are planned in California and talks are under way with other cities. “We probably have six communities that we are in serious discussions with,” Busch said. “I’m working on letters of intent.” Busch credits the company’s success to its family-oriented mission — “Bringing Families Closer Together” — and a public-private business model which includes cities as development partners and lets them share in park revenues. The strategy has won high praise from the cities where it operates, such as Mansfield, where its water park has an estimated economic impact of $11 million annually, according to a study conducted by Catalyst.Discussions now are under way to add an adventure park on city-owned land adjacent to the Mansfield water park.“It has had such a positive impact on our community,” said Shelly Lanners, director of community services at the city of Mansfield. “It is a great place for families and a great place for employment for our teenagers.”Lanners has known Busch since 2004 when the city began discussions about the water park, which opened in 2008.“He is a wonderful go-getter; there is not a lot of grass that grows under his feet,” Lanners said. “He is constantly thinking about how the parks stay current and relevant.”The year-round adventure park concept is one way Hawaiian Falls hopes to stay relevant. Called Hawaiian High Adventures, the parks will consist of about 3 acres of zip lines, ropes courses and other outdoor physical activities. It will expand the company’s business beyond the heat of the summer into the rest of the year. “We are trying to move from a one-dimensional company that provides water to be more multi-dimensional relative to the infrastructure we have in place,” said Jerry Crenshaw, the company’s CFO, who spent more than a decade as CFO and executive vice president for Crescent Real Estate Equities in Fort Worth before leaving when the company was sold in 2007. Turbulent lifeBusch, 62, began his career with Lamar Hunt in 1972 and was vice president of Hunt Midwest Entertainment when he resigned in 1985 to start his own venture. Over the years, he has developed more than 20 water parks. But it was a turbulent family life as a child that influenced his approach as a businessman.Raised Southern Baptist in Kansas City, Busch fell away from the church as a teenager as he saw his life begin to disintegrate.“I just didn’t feel like I could believe anymore because so many things were going so wrong,” he said. “Alcoholism, and poverty and divorce in my family.”He rediscovered Christianity in his 40s, he said, and now wants to use his business to create places for families to come together.Hawaiian Falls, Busch said, encourages its employees to embrace a servant attitude and Christian values. During the summer, when the parks are in full swing, chaplains — often area youth pastors — volunteer their time to minister to staff and patrons. Churches rent out the parks during off-hours, and hundreds have been baptized in its lazy rivers over the past 10 years. While it’s fairly common for Busch to mention God and Christian values in the course of a conversation, he doesn’t hit employees over the head with it, notes Evan Barnett, the company’s regional vice president. The Christian connection isn’t overtly noticeable at the water parks other than a sign immediately inside the entrance containing a Scripture verse.At the headquarters of the parent company, Horizon Family Holdings, however, Christian decor reminds employees — and visitors — that this is a faith-based company. Religious books and magazines reside on a coffee table inside the front entrance and a mirror on the wall contains scripture from Psalms: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”Barnett, 34, has been in the water park business since he was 16. He first met Busch when he worked in maintenance at a water park in Sacramento that Busch later sold to the parent company of Six Flags Over Texas. He said he believes Horizon’s success stems from how it operates.“I think, ultimately, the reason we have success in business is because we take care of our people and our communities,” he said. “We don’t set out to say, how can I make X-amount of dollars today? We say, ‘How can we impact people’s lives today?’”Family focusThe family focus has been popular with cities that often cite the parks’ wholesome atmosphere as an attribute.The Mansfield park usually garners honors as the company’s top performer, a position it occasionally shares with The Colony. Mansfield brought in an estimated 200,000 visitors for the 2013 season, which ends Labor Day weekend, about equal to last year. The park also sold 13,000 season passes, more than any other park.The company’s smaller Roanoke park hasn’t had such a stellar performance, but City Manager Scott Campbell said officials expect attendance to improve once nearby road construction is completed. “The 114/170 interchange upgrade is a key improvement in our city,” he said. “It will improve the traffic flow from the Grapevine area into Roanoke and I think that will be significant for us.”Permits for new home construction are on the rise as well, a positive vibe for future growth at the Roanoke park, which drew about 150,000 visitors this season. Under the public-private partnerships, in which the cities own the land and lease it back to Hawaiian Falls with a long-term lease of 40 to 50 years, about 5 percent to 8 percent of park revenue is returned to the cities, or about $250,000 a year, Busch said. Altogether, the five DFW parks will bring in about $17 million in revenue this year and attract 1 million visitors.For the company’s new adventure parks, which will cost about $5 million to build, the cities will be asked to sell bonds that will be paid back with park revenue.Busch, ever the optimist, believes the future looks grand.“We are just getting started,” he said. “This is endless, it really is. Kerry Curry is a Dallas-area freelance writer.