Mat Joyce



Rental Manager
Northstar-at-Tahoe, Calif.

Six-word bio: "Not there yet... not done yet.”

This shop rat with an eye for logistics has revamped how Northstar handles rental customers, particularly never-evers, and created a model for others to follow.

Mat Joyce got his start at Northstar’s annual job fair. “I ended up getting a rental tech position,” says Joyce, who found himself in Tahoe after graduating from the University of Oklahoma. “The original plan was to take a break and figure things out. Everyone from the flatland dreams of being a ski bum for a year. I fell in love with Northstar and got a summer position in the bike shop.”

Joyce’s ground-floor experience as a rental tech laid the foundations for what would come next. “I was lucky,” says Joyce, who credits coworker Eric McGaughey, director of rRentals, as being a key partner in the success of the Northstar rental program. “There were some opportunities for advancement, and fortunately, given the position that I came from as a rental tech, I had the frontline knowledge that comes with starting at the bottom. That was the key to noticing what we fell short on.”

And what Joyce noticed was a lack of efficiency. “Being a high-volume shop,” says Joyce, “we needed to focus on our efficiency.”

What Joyce did next, according to Brittany Clelan, director of human resources at Northstar, revolutionized Northstar’s rental process. “He is smart,” says Clelan. “He helped implement a state-of-the-art process that allows guests to flow through the rental shop line in 20 minutes or less on the busiest of days.”

By implementing new computer processes and redesigning rental facilities, Joyce and his team was able to streamline the process. “We are able to send information from one shop to another,” says Joyce. “We can process equipment for the customer without them being there, so you go to a pickup location, and find your skis tagged and ready to go. We figured we could get ahead of the customer.” (See “Queue ’Em Up,” SAM 2011-12 Rental Buyer’s Guide, at for shop details.)

The results, according to Northstar, were impressive. “We have hit several records under Mat’s leadership, including guest service scores, generation of sales, to unit/hour output,” says Clelan, who adds that Joyce has also been able to retain almost all of his employees from year to year, an impressive feat in itself.

While records are fine, Joyce isn’t dwelling on past successes. “Next season we will focus on increasing product offerings, we’re going to offer upgraded skis and boards, and have a higher level of customer services, particularly for first-timers.” says Joyce. “We have a close relationship with our ski instructors and we will bring them into the shop to work with them to focus on the beginners.

“In the high-volume environment, we don’t want to let the customer be lost. We want to give them helpful hints that the insiders know, like don’t wear two pairs of socks. I want to make sure they have a great first time on the snow.”

—Tom Winter