At Mt. Ashland, Brian oversees the rental and repair shop, the terrain park, ski school, the race and special events department, the after-school ski program, group sales, and an environmental youth program. [He] operates efficiently and effectively and that’s how he successfully manages to oversee so many departments. Brian understands that converting first-time guests into lifelong skiers is important to the survival of the ski industry. [He] has a great passion for this industry and he continues to find ways to better and improve his departments. He is already a leader at Mt. Ashland, and is going to be a future leader in the industry.
—Keegan McNary, HR and administrative manager, Mt. Ashland
You clearly feel very strongly about progression and guest retention. Can you tell us about your approach to these issues at Mt. Ashland?
We try to set our parks up so our guests can learn and progress in a safe and fun way. We work hard to mimic the features we have in our larger terrain parks in our progression parks. Our park staff does more than just set up features and rake; they spend their day educating guests on park etiquette, teaching people skills and guiding people to the features best to learn on.
Our guests deserve the Ritz-Carlton experience. I believe that staff needs to be professional, educated about our product and personable in order to convince families that spending a few hundred dollars a day is a sound investment. Everything we do needs to have a level of professionalism: fences should be straight and taut, the mountain should always look photo-ready, and employees need be personable and look presentable.
What skills do you think are critical to success in resort operations today? Are these skills you see in a lot of young people?
Since the economic downturn, many resorts have had to consolidate multiple positions into one to stay afloat. As such, managers need to delegate much more effectively [and] there is a greater need for more intensive staff training and clearly defined expectations. I believe that the next generation is growing up in a culture that teaches them to be more diverse and flexible. I see this in many of my own staff as they work to learn other jobs on the mountain that are outside of their primary responsibility.
We all work very hard to try and maintain the image our guests have of the ski industry, but sometimes it seems as though we forget that it’s that same image that attracts new employees. If we, as management, are able to remember what brought us into the industry, we’ll be able to better develop a safe and fun culture at our resorts.
What was your biggest career win?
My first season at Mt. Ashland, we implemented the My Turn Program for first-timers. More than 45 percent of the guests who completed the program bought a season pass for the next season. It was great watching new families get so involved in the sport that they decided it was their new winter activity.
Do you have any advice for future 10 Under 30 hopefuls?
Learn as much as you can about everything you can. By spending time with other departments, you’ll see what they can or can’t do, and how easily it can be done. The more you know about the rest of the area, the more efficient and effective you’ll be at your job, regardless of your position.