Bike/Ski/Base Area Manager and Marketing Specialist, Angel Fire Resort, N.M.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation Management, University of Idaho
First job in industry: Internship, Tamarack, Ida.
Super power: The ability to warm people up, so they wouldn’t complain about the cold and they could ski all day, but selfishly I would like to have helicopter arms so I could go heli-skiing all the time!
To put it conservatively, Kalen is a superstar. Kalen was hired as our ski rental shop manager in 2009, and in the short time he’s been here, he has redesigned the shop to be more profitable and efficient, increasing revenue by more than 200 percent while simultaneously decreasing labor costs. He started our Summer Bike Shop operation in 2010 and doubled revenue within the first two years, establishing the Angel Fire Bike Shop as one of the premium bike operations in the Southwest… and as a part-time addition to the marketing team, he developed a multi-year learn-to-ski-and-ride program, and has partnered with local and national businesses for event sponsorships.
—Christy Germscheid, director of human resources, culture & excellence, Angel Fire Resort.
Tell us about your multi-faceted role at Angel Fire: how did you come to hold so many titles?
I grew up in a family-owned business. My parents taught me that to be the boss, you have to be willing to do any job that needs to be done, and set a good example by working harder than everyone else. I’ve always looked at working at a ski resort as one big team rather than departments. The CEO of Angel Fire, John Kitts, has always been willing to let me try my ideas in places that need it. [For example] I shifted a little bit this past winter from the mountain ops side of things to marketing because the department currently does not have a marketing director.
You obviously care deeply for mountain sports, but it's few who are able to translate that passion into a truly successful career. Can you identify key opportunities you were able to capitalize on in order to achieve this dream?
The first experience I had that put me on my path for the ski industry was meeting Tim Silva when he was the general manager at Northstar. I was just a young kid [and] I sent the resort an e-mail, and he personally e-mailed me back and set up a meeting to ski with me. It was great to hear how he worked his way up and to see that he was willing to help out in any place at the resort that needed it—when he left [our meeting] he was headed to bus tables at the summit restaurant.
What skills have served you best in your cross-departmental roles, and why?
A positive attitude: working in a busy rental shop can be very stressful, with huge lines and impatient customers. As long as you can keep happy and connect with the guest on a personal level you will both have a better experience.
Do you have any advice for future 10 Under 30 hopefuls looking to excel in their career while pursuing their passions?
Love what you do and do what you love. The ski industry is the best possible work environment, and we are in it to ski, [so] make sure you get out and get that powder-eating grin on your face so you can share it with beginners! Also, don’t forget you were a beginner once. I’m currently in Costa Rica learning how to surf; I have to be humble and take lessons so that I can enjoy a sport that others make look so easy. And never be a less than complete boss: my dad was always the first to clean the bathroom in his store, the first to arrive and the last to leave.