Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

Ryan Schramm - Powderhorn Mountain Resort - Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group

August 24, 2022 Ryan Schramm Season 2 Episode 7
Ryan Schramm - Powderhorn Mountain Resort - Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
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Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Ryan Schramm - Powderhorn Mountain Resort - Full Circle with The Christi Reece Group
Aug 24, 2022 Season 2 Episode 7
Ryan Schramm

Are you ready for ski season? It's coming up fast! Learn what Powderhorn Mountain Resort has planned for winter, as well as the fun stuff they do year-round, in this chat with General Manager, Ryan Schramm!

Get your ski passes now, prices go up on September 6!
Get all the details at https://www.powderhorn.com/

Prefer to watch your podcasts? Head over to our YouTube page at https://youtu.be/Zvq27S0EUw4

Show Notes Transcript

Are you ready for ski season? It's coming up fast! Learn what Powderhorn Mountain Resort has planned for winter, as well as the fun stuff they do year-round, in this chat with General Manager, Ryan Schramm!

Get your ski passes now, prices go up on September 6!
Get all the details at https://www.powderhorn.com/

Prefer to watch your podcasts? Head over to our YouTube page at https://youtu.be/Zvq27S0EUw4

Speaker 1:

The full circle podcast, compelling interviews and incredible tales from Colorado's Western slope, from the mountains to the desert Christie, Reese, and her team here from the movers, shakers, and characters of the grand valley and surrounding mountain towns that make the Western slope, the place we all love. You'll learn. You'll laugh. You'll love with the full circle. Hi everyone. This is Christy Reese, and welcome back to the full circle podcast. I'm excited to have our guest today. Ryan Shram, the general manager of pat horn mountain resort here in the beautiful grand valley, kind of in the grand valley. Do you consider yourself in the grand valley up there?

Speaker 2:

Sure, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. Part of the community for sure. A big part of the community. So, Ryan, um, I've been reading about your background and everything, but tell our listeners and our viewers, uh, where you grew up and, and about your ski background.

Speaker 2:

Okay. Long story and very complicated, but not really. Uh, so I grew up in Northern central Pennsylvania, um, not necessarily known for, you know, really great skiing mm-hmm<affirmative>, but I grew up at a really small ski area, about 500 vertical feet as like a couple tee bars and a double chair lift take what you can get, right? Yep. Still in operation today, but so great. Um, my dad worked there, um, he was the ski school director, ski patrol director, the race director, all that fun stuff, wear a lot of hats. Um, and they had night skiing. So I used to ski 5, 6, 7 days a week. Um, every day after school, I would go and do homework in the lodge at one of the picnic tables and then, you know, go ski and train. Uh, I grew up racing quite a bit. So, um, I raced all over Pennsylvania when I was a small kid. And then as I got a little older, we moved into New York and I raced to New York for a while. And, um, and uh, kind of went from there. Um, my dad also owns a ski and bike shop. So I worked in the back of my dad's shop for a long time. Mm-hmm<affirmative> uh, while, uh, while I was growing up. Um, so then, uh, I decided to go to culinary school cuz you know, that fits with ski racing. Um, but uh, went to culinary school and uh, did some pretty cool things and some internships worked in New York for a while, New York city. Yeah. Uh, and then, uh, and then decided that maybe the restaurant thing in the nineties wasn't so fun anymore. Mm-hmm<affirmative> uh, and then I went

Speaker 1:

That had to been crazy in New York in the nineties

Speaker 2:

<laugh> yeah, that's uh, that's an understatement<laugh> um, definitely a different world than it is today. Um, and uh, so I went into corporate food service and, and did that for a long time. Worked for all the big companies, Aramark Sedexo and Brock and company it's based in Philly. Um, and all while doing that, I was coaching ski racing on weekends. So I was still always involved. Um, and then, uh, my wife and I were living in Philadelphia at the time we, uh, got in this big car accident on the way to Atlantic city, which is what you do when you live in Philly. And then every weekend in the summer you go to Atlantic city or the Jersey shore basically. Right. I think there was a show about that at one point I heard. Yeah.<laugh> and uh, we got into this big car accident and uh, both of us were just like, oh, what are we doing? Yeah. Why are, why do we live here?

Speaker 1:

Well, you're smiling as you tell that story. It was, I mean, were you injured badly? No

Speaker 2:

Of no, no, no. Neither of us were really injured badly. I mean, my wife had some whiplash or whatever, but uh, you know, it was, it was, uh, but it was kind of that like final wake up call of, wow, we're both professionals and we both work a million hours, but we aren't really doing anything that we really, really, really like mm-hmm<affirmative> um, so she decided to go back to school to get her PhD and I kind of had maybe an early midlife crisis and said, you know what, I'm gonna take, uh, a little break from all the, you know, the corporate world and go coach ski racing for a winter. Uh, so I made a couple of phone calls, some friends in new England and we, uh, ended up in New Hampshire. Uh, I ended up coaching and taking over the race program at a place called ragged mountain mm-hmm<affirmative>. Um, and that was probably jeez, 2010, 2010 maybe. Um, while my wife went back to school to get her PhD and pharmacology. And uh, so I just kept like showing up at ragged mountain and I kept getting a paycheck and it was supposed to be a seasonal job. And that was, uh, basically with the same company, um, for the last 12 years.

Speaker 1:

And, and so that first year that you were coaching the racing, was it just your heart was filled up, you felt like, okay, I am where I'm supposed to be now. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

Exactly. Yeah. It was kind of going back to my childhood and thinking about some of my coaches when I, you know, when I was growing up and yeah, that was definitely the best job I ever had. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

But, um, being in the food service industry, it's kind of cool now being in GM at a ski area, you have a little appreciation for dining at the ski area and what you can and can't provide and what, what people want mm-hmm

Speaker 2:

<affirmative>. Yeah. I mean, you know, across our enterprise, um, you know, our five resorts, uh, you know, it's 25 to 30% of all of our revenue is food and beverage. So it's an important piece hospitality important piece. I always like to say that, you know, we're really in the hospitality business, we're not in the ski business. Um, there's a, there's a distinct difference there mm-hmm<affirmative> yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, um, so you came to powder horn and what year?

Speaker 2:

Uh, our company assumed operations in November of 2018. So since then, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And was it hard for you to leave New Hampshire or were you excited to come to Colorado?

Speaker 2:

Uh, well, a little bit of both. I mean, it's always bittersweet, you know, I'd been, uh, I'd been in New Hampshire for, um, you know, eight years made a lot of friends and have a lot of connections there that I still, um, that I still enjoy. So of course that leaving some of those things behind is a little bittersweet. Um, at the same time, you know, Colorado is exciting and, um, you know, the, the recreation opportunities when you live in Western Colorado are, uh, pretty exponential. So,

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah. And had you ever been to this area before?

Speaker 2:

Uh, uh, long time ago, like a million years ago, went riding kind of through mountain biking, you know, fruit and Moab probably 25 years ago.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So obviously there's a big elevation difference. Um, what, what are some of the other differences that you, and there's a snow difference? Right. What else did you notice when you came here that was different about skiing here in the ski industry here?

Speaker 2:

Um, well, I, you know, the, obviously the conditions can be a little different. Um, you know, it's always sunny. I think that was probably the first thing that I noticed, even when you get a big, giant snowstorm, it's always sunny, like right. You know, either that day or the day after<laugh>, uh, in new England, you know, when it snows, then it's cloudy for at least three weeks after. Um,<laugh> so of course that's yeah, of course that's a big change. Um, uh, I am a firm snow advocate, so, uh, cuz I grew up racing and I like to use my edges from time to time and, and uh, firm snow is not a bad thing, but at the same time, boy, you know, those big pow days can be, um, can be a lot of fun. Mm-hmm<affirmative> um, that's, that's a big difference, you know, culturally I think Colorado, uh, is different from new England in a lot of ways. Um, you know, it's a little bit more laid back a little bit slower pace of life sometimes, and that's not a bad thing. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Um, do the, do the two ski areas compare in size a little bit? Yeah. They're I think is ragged mountain.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Ragged mountain is uh, about 1200 vertical feet powder horns, 1650. So, um, they're, they're similar in size, similar in skier visit numbers. Um, powder horn is by far one of the largest resorts by acreage that we have in our portfolio. So, um, you know, 1600 acres versus, you know, ragged is 250. Oh wow. Right. So yeah, that's

Speaker 1:

A big difference. Mm-hmm<affirmative>, that's why we can find those secret STEs of powder even a week after it snows. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

<laugh> yeah, exactly. I'm not telling you where mine are. No.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Darn it.<laugh> after the

Speaker 2:

Show. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Um, so, uh, when, when the management wanted to bring you here to powder horn, what did they give you as your mission? This is what we want you to do here, Ryan.

Speaker 2:

Well, you know, in certain ways, um, there wasn't a specific directive. It's more, let's figure out what powder horn is. Um, what's its niche, what's the goals there. Um, let's not pull on any levers really hard right away. Um, let's just, you know, make it better. Mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, take what we're doing and, and make it better. And, and we do that across all of our resorts when we bring them into the portfolio. Let's not necessarily, um, come in with some mandated dictation of this is a model that works mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, you know, let's, let's figure it out and, and um, you know, how do we best adapt those or best maybe make them more efficient and streamlined so that they're kind of firing on all cylinders. Mm-hmm,<affirmative>, that's really the, that's really the goal there.

Speaker 1:

So what do you think powder Horn's niche is?

Speaker 2:

I think it is, um, a really great community resource. Um, I think that it is a lot of fun to ski. Um, it's got some really good terrain. Um, it doesn't always, you know, get a lot of the, um, best ratings for, you know, the steepest longest runs or things like that. But boy, it's so playful and when it snows, boy, it skis a lot bigger than it actually is.

Speaker 1:

I'd agree with that. I'm just getting goosebumps thinking about it.

Speaker 2:

<laugh> so,

Speaker 1:

So much fun. I mean, you know, my, I go up there ski with my kids and my friends and without fail every time I'm up there, I think how lucky I am to have that so close to home. And, um, last year I remember a couple times being in the snowstorm, you know, not riding up the lift and not being able to see anything and, and knowing that, um, I had a pretty short drive home, you know, like I'm going up a chairlift into a blizzard and it's really awesome. And then I'm gonna be home in an hour and warm and, um, it just, it's a really, it's a great little spot. It's a gem. Um, talk a little bit about mission affordable because that's a program that you brought from New Hampshire, right. Mm-hmm<affirmative> and talk about what, what it, what its intent was and how successful it was.

Speaker 2:

Well, we started that in ragged, um, a number of years ago and, uh, you know, in certain ways it was, you know, ragged in New Hampshire was a, in a different place than in, than powder horn is in Colorado. Um, it's 90 minutes from Boston, um, you know, major metropolitan area, but you know, there's 30, 40, 50 ski areas within two hour drive of Boston. Right. Um, really, yeah. There's well, because you got most of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, um, some and some really big, you know, very interesting places. So, um, part of the mission affordable or that, that original mission was really just to differentiate ragged from some of the competitors, you know, Mount Sunapee, which is now a veil property. Um, you know, ragged had 250 acres and SUNY had maybe 255 and Mount Sunapee had a high speed lift and ragged had a high speed lift. And, um, you know, uh, I think, uh, ragged 1,250 vertical feet and Mount Sunapee was 1280 or something like that. I mean, they were very, very, very similar. So why go to one versus the other and, and, um, you know, and we were coming out of a really, really lean, uh, really challenging snow year. Uh, we closed the ski resort a couple of weeks early because it was 75 or 80 degrees, you know, very unseasonable mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, weather and temperatures. And, and, uh, we just kinda came up with this program, um, to solve a couple of problems. Right. Um, you know, to, to make sure that we could continue on, uh, with the, with the resort, but then also to, you know, drive new business to drive some trial. And some experimentation people were like, wow, that pass is so that I, why wouldn't I buy that? Yeah. Right. Can't can't afford not to ski. Yeah. I can't<laugh> exactly. And, and it restored a lot of confidence in, in the marketplace, in the ragged product. Um, you know, and we went from zero to hero in a really rare, you know, in, in one season mm-hmm<affirmative>. Um, and it took a lot of, um, a lot of planning before that first winter, uh, because we had sold more passes than we had ever sold before. Um, so it was a product that really resonated in that marketplace, um, and helped ragged grow exponentially. Uh, so it was really important and it was really fun to be kind of part of that transformation. Yeah. Um, and that, uh, and that product really, um, kind of transferred to Powderhorn in a meaningful way. Again, you've got some of the world's best ski areas in Colorado, not that far away. Mm-hmm<affirmative> um, so again, how's Powderhorn, um, you know, we, we already talked about it skis really well, but not a lot of people know that. So how do we differentiate powder horn in the Colorado marketplace? And again, mission affordable has kind of done the trick and fit the bill mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, and, and started to transform that resort.

Speaker 1:

And is that program still going

Speaker 2:

On? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So what, what are season passes selling for right now?

Speaker 2:

Uh, right now an adult pass is 4 79, uh, and, uh, until September 6th mm-hmm<affirmative>. So if you're listening, make sure that you, uh, get in on that deal before the prices increase mm-hmm<affirmative> um, and, uh, yeah, I mean, it's, it's certainly one of the best deals in Colorado.

Speaker 1:

What does a pass cost at say Aspen or Telluride now?

Speaker 2:

Uh, I'm not sure about Telluride off the top of my head. I think, uh, you know, a, an Aspen pass is, uh, 2000 to 2200 something like that for an adult. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, um, what other kinds of, um, programs are you excited about bringing to powder horn or are, you know, other programs that you have done, uh, or some that you might have coming up?

Speaker 2:

Uh, so one of the programs that we did develop over, uh, or at powder horn is the Bob Beverly free learn to ski program, free learn to ski in snowboard program. Um, that's gone through a few evolutions and it will continue to evolve. Um, but I think that's, uh, that's been a very interesting and beneficial program to allow some people that might not have normally tried skiing to try it. Mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, three times and, and kind of get their feet wet and, um, be able to come back a couple of times, um, to really, um, kind of have a good progression of, of learning before hanging it up or, you know, becoming a skier or a snowboarder. Um, so that's, uh, that's been an important one for us, and I think we'll continue to evolve that over time to, to fit the marketplace and, and make it work.

Speaker 1:

Um, Powderhorn, lodging, um, what's going on up there with, with all of the properties that are owned by the, by the resort itself and other private entities. What's the latest

Speaker 2:

Well<laugh>, that gets complicated. There's a lot of, uh, there's a lot of different entities involved there. Um, ultimately Powderhorn only operates the tiny homes. Um, they're the only ones that we're directly operating and involved with. Um, of course we still have, you know, the golden woods properties there. Uh, those are run by RCI, so an outside, you know, outside party and their owned, um, you know, individually. Yeah. Kind of like a timeshare setup, I believe. Um, and then, uh, the slope side building that's been there for a number of years is recently changed hands. Um, so I'm anxious to see kind of what happens with that, uh, with that parcel being, you know, really our next door neighbor yeah.

Speaker 1:

As they have lodging and restaurant facility.

Speaker 2:

Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, um, snow making, you've made some big improvements in snow making up at the resort since your, uh, arrival here. How's that going?

Speaker 2:

Right? Uh, pretty well. Um, snow making, I think is key, um, for a number of reasons, but one is just being able to, uh, eliminate a little bit of the variability of weather. Um, you know, as, as time progresses and time marches on, um, the variability of weather, um, gets more exponential, right? So we need to be able to insulate ourselves and insulate our business a little bit from, from that variability. So snow making is key, um, and developing snow, making over time, uh, increasing capacity, increasing the amount of trails that are covered by snow making those are all focus, uh, you know, a big focus for us going forward. Mm-hmm<affirmative>. Um, that was a really, really large project, uh, to get across the finish line access to, you know, a lot of water from the city of grand junction up on the reservoir. Uh, the Anderson reservoir that's up on the very top, um, was a little bit of a creative engineering that went into that project too. There were a lot of people that said, you know, you just can't run a pipeline down a big rock cliff and, uh, turns out that you can<laugh>. Um, so that was, uh, you know, it's been a, a big fun project to be a part of. And that started to, again, kind of transform powder horn into something that's a reliable product. Again, you know, people have the confidence that, you know, we're gonna open in early December, whether it snows or not. Um, and, and we'll be able to stay open until, um, you know, the end of March or April, because we've got, you know, uh, that, that, uh, that pad, that insulation from, from what's going on

Speaker 1:

Was the beginning of the, uh, 21 season, the first year with the new snow making equipment.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. The 2021 season was the first, the first year. Um, yep. And kind of working out some of the bugs and that sort of thing this past winter was really the first winter that we were able to operate at at its, you know, maximum capacities and, and things like that. Um, and then of course, uh, we had the warmest November on record last year. So of course it was, you know, despite, um, having access to water in some really good state of the art automated snow making, you still need it to be below 32 degrees to make snow. Um, so, you know, that was, uh, that was certainly a little bit of a challenge and we didn't quite make our, our desired opening day by a week. So that was, uh, that was a little hard, but, but we

Speaker 1:

Still earlier than

Speaker 2:

Average earlier than ever

Speaker 1:

Earlier than ever. Yeah. Fantastic. Yep.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So, uh, so again, you know, if we have a nice cold end of October and November, you know, we'll be able to open, uh, Thanksgiving weekend. Oh,

Speaker 1:

That's exciting. Yeah. Just think everybody, we could be skiing Thanksgiving at powder horn. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yay. I just thought about it. It's about 60 days until we would start making snow. Wow,

Speaker 1:

Fantastic. Yeah. So how has the drought all over Colorado affected not only powder horn, but the, um, ski industry as a whole here in Colorado?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's certainly had an impact. Um, you know, especially when you think about snow making and snow making water, um, you know, sometimes that's had a negative impact on the amount of water, uh, areas are able to extract or, or use, um, at the same time, it often has a positive effect because you're not actually using water, you're just storing water and letting it melt and leech into the back into the system that it came from. Mm-hmm,<affirmative> over a longer period of time. So in certain ways it's also a really nice buffer. Um, so kind of dealing with that perception and, and the, the yin and yang of that equation is, is, can be challenging. Um, you know, climate change is on everyone's radar, you know, drought, how dry things are wildfires, the threat of wildfires. There was a tiny little fire at the very end of the canyon there where 65 meets I 70, you know, and it had everyone panicked, you know, cadet thing flare up and, you know, is it 180,000 acres? Like the pine Gulch fire was a few summers ago,

Speaker 1:

So much dead timber everywhere, the beetle kill and just dry conditions. Yeah, exactly. It's scary.

Speaker 2:

So this summer's been while it's been a little bit challenging operationally, the, the damp and wet part of the summer has been really good to see, you know, the soils are, are damp and not dried out. And, uh, to see that come back a little bit and be revitalized, this uh, is good.

Speaker 1:

And you all speaking of summer, you all have been working on your summer programs, um, mountain biking, weddings events.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Uh, you know, COVID really put a damper on weddings and events. Most of our wedding business, you know, was either canceled, postponed mm-hmm<affirmative>. Um, you know, this summer was really the first year that we've done, um, you know, more weddings and, you know, had we, uh, full wedding program, I'd say the same thing about events. Um, you know, we really didn't have much in the way of events, the last two summers or two winters. Um, being able to see some of those events, uh, come back like gears and beers, which is this coming Saturday, um, you know, the color weekend, being able to, to, to revitalize those and bring those back, um, you know, events add just that little bit of, you know, intangible feel and activity to the resort that, that make it feel good and make you feel like you want to, you're, you're a part of something and you wanna come back. So those are really integral to what we do.

Speaker 1:

Um, well talk more about the, the mountain biking and how, um, what's the expansion, um, goal for the mountain biking. We've got a lot of trails now and what a fun thing to be able to do, and, uh, such a nice compliment to the cycling community and the opportunities that we have down here and plus the plunge, and to be able to go up and, and, uh, ride the lift up and race down super fun. How many miles of trails would you say you have right now?

Speaker 2:

Uh, geez. I don't know if off the top of my head, um, I'd have to go back and look, uh, you know, probably the newest project that we just wrapped up, uh, last week was the connector. Um, so it's a, a trail that connects the top of powder horn with the plunge. Um, oh, nice. So again, that's, you know, kind of outside of our forest service permit area, but it's a very interesting trail. It also makes a lot of loops, um, that, uh, didn't really exist before. So riding, even if you weren't riding in the bike park, you could ride, you know, west bench and rim view and this connector trail and kind of make a loop of it. Um, so again, it's now another option for riding. That's not, um, going to be 110 degrees in the August. You know, you can get up on the Mesa and get out of the heat and, and ride some of those things. Um, it also allows us to have, uh, what we like to call the plunge to powder horn. Um, so it's an easier alternative for, um, people that, uh, don't necessarily want to do the full plunge and the really technical kind of lower half of the plunge. Um, you can, you know, take a shuttle up, you can ride on the plunge and then take some other trails, you know, to get back over to powder horn, and then ride the bike park down, back to your car. And it's, uh, it's a more intermediate level experience. Something that, you know, I'd take my wife on. Yeah. As opposed to riding the, you know, the last full plunge. Yeah, yeah. That lasts 17 miles, which is pretty gnarly Uhhuh, um, in a lot of spots. So

Speaker 1:

You've ridden the whole thing. Mm-hmm<affirmative> I take it,

Speaker 2:

I have not ridden the bottom part yet. Yeah. So, um, you know, and then, you know, we've also got a lot going on in the bike park we've built, uh, you know, just since I've been here and we've built a new green trail and a new blue trail, um, and we'll continue to work with the forest service on expanding and building more trail revitalizing. Some of our old ones, you know, we took a, a good long, uh, hard approach on, uh, pinball, which is our black diamond bike trail and, and did some new features and, and kind of brought that back to what it was a few years ago. Um, and then just working on our master plan and where are we headed and how much trail can we build and what are the things that we're still missing that, uh, that make it a really great bike park experience.

Speaker 1:

And, um, how, how much ridership are you getting up there? You're open. How many are you open every day of the week during the summer

Speaker 2:

In the summer, we're open Thursday through Sunday and then kind of after labor day, we scale it back to just weekends. Kids are back to school. Kids are a bit, you know, a big part of those Thursdays and Fridays. So we'll scale it back a little bit and then kind of cap things off with color weekends, um, which is always the last weekend of September. Um, you know, and that's important for not only the bike park, but just general visitation and people coming up and we kind of have that big festival and lots of activities and, and, uh, scenic chair rides to view all the, you know, golden. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

There have been a couple of foot races up there, um, in the last 10 years. Are those, are those gonna continue,

Speaker 2:

Uh, like running RA mm-hmm<affirmative> like trail running. Yeah. Uh, I,

Speaker 1:

And there, we had a couple of adventure races a few years back, you know, where,

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't, I don't know about, uh, most of those, I haven't been part of most of the organization of those. I do know that there was one up on the very top, like on Craig's crest a couple of weeks ago, maybe two weeks ago, something like that. Um, I certainly hope they, you know, they, those things continue as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I, the couple of races that I did at Powderhorn were super fun. I, I think that's a great place to have, uh, a run get up again, out of the heat and, and you have a deck and a, a facility that you can kind of gather everybody around was, it was really nice. Um, oh, let's talk about the rebranding that you did and how that came about. So you guys did a new logo and that was in, was that in 2021 also?

Speaker 2:

No, that was, uh, that was a few years ago. That was, uh, the start of the 20 19 20, 20 season. Okay. Yeah. So kind of before COVID, um, you know, when, when resorts become part of a different group, oftentimes, you know, some rebranding happens. Um, I think it was important for us to communicate that it's, you know, a different powder horn it's, um, while a lot of the terrain hasn't changed, um, you know, a lot of our attitude has, and, uh, you know, we're certainly building on that and I think it was an important, you know, small piece of communication. Ultimately, a logo is a logo and it doesn't change the skiing. Um, and if the skiing wasn't any good, then that would've been immaterial. So for us, uh, being focused really on the experience, the skiing, the snowboarding, the biking in the summer, what's going on in hospitality, all of those things, you know, lessons and lesson programs, that's, that's really where the rubber hits the road. And, uh, that's where we put a lot of our focus. So

Speaker 1:

I think you're doing a great job. Uh, some of the other improvements that you've done in the last few years, uh, the, the automatic gates. So, um, did that eliminate a lot of employees, was that a, you know, obviously a cost savings and a convenience, but was it hard to think, well, we're not gonna be able to employ as many people.

Speaker 2:

Uh, well, I don't know if I would agree that it eliminated a lot of employees. Um, I think it just transfers where some of those employees might work. Um, you know, it didn't, uh, you know, you still have someone, uh, at the lift corrals, that's looking at the pictures of the people coming through the gate, instead of going over to check your ticket, that's hanging off of your jacket. They're just, I, you know, trying to pair up mm-hmm,<affirmative>, um, you know, faces and, and the, and the account information that that's popping through. So in certain ways it really didn't change much. Um, I think the, the biggest benefit for us, um, really is just convenience for the consumer. Yeah. Um, once you have an R F I D card, you can reload it online and that's whether you have a season pass or a lift ticket or whatever product, um, you can just go online and reload it and never have to go back to the ticket office. You avoid a lot of lines. Yeah. You can avoid, you know, again, it's kind of a COVID hangover thing, but you, you know, you don't have someone kind of in your face looking for your lift ticket at the lift line. Um, you just put it in a pocket, kind of forget about it and, you know, kind of breeze through those lifts. So, um, for us, it's more of a con you know, convenience factor for the consumer mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, you know, it's certainly, uh, an interesting piece of technology. I think that, that might it continue to evolve over the next 20 years. And, you know, who knows, you'd end up embedded with an RFI D chip in your arm or in your phone, you know, your phones are the ones that are actually activating the gate, that sort of thing. Um, but, uh, it'll be interesting to watch for sure. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

What other kinds of things are you looking forward to implementing at Powderhorn? I mean, I'm sure you get the question all the time about the west end lift. It's a kind of a throwback.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. You know, we've got a couple of things, you know, in the near term and in the, in the long term, you know, we've, uh, purchased the new groomer for our fleet this year. So again, you know, just making sure that the grooming fleet is up to date, newer, not, you know, you're eliminating a, a little bit of maintenance and downtime and, you know, just like if you owned a old car versus a new car mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, you know, so that, that piece is important. Those things are ridiculously expensive. It is definitely more than a median home price in Mesa county.<laugh> uh, so yeah, so tho those, those things are, uh, you know, really important to keep up with. Um, we're working with the forest service on approvals to install a new magic carpet, uh, lift or a conveyor lift, uh, to expand our beginner area, to be able to teach more, um, very new, you know, inexperienced, uh, lessons mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, again, that's, that's gonna be really key, key to growth, key to, you know, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Getting new skiers started

Speaker 2:

Exactly. You know, whether that's youth or adults or people that are moving to the area that, um, never have a, you know, had the opportunity to experience skiing before. Um, that that piece is, is really key. Um, you know, we are working on, um, you know, what are we going to do with the west end lift and, and that replacement, um, not ready to make any kind of announcements, but, you know, that certainly, um, being thought of, uh, being engineered, um, being planned on for a, a replacement sometime soon. Um, and then after that, you know, um, you know, we're, we're always in this constant, what's new, what's next? What are the things that we need to improve on? Uh, you know, I think that the base lodge needs a little bit of love and some expansion would be fantastic being able to add to that lodge, um, adding capacity, adding some seating capacity. Um, the deck is great, but boy, when it snows, there's, you know, the lodge gets a little bit small, right? So, you know, looking at those things and how do we move that forward? You know, it's, it's always, you know, it's like when you paint, paint your house, and then all of a sudden you realize that boy, that trim is not the right color anymore, or, um, you know, you, you always find that next thing that you've optimized one thing, and now you've gotta look at something else. So for us, that's, that's, uh, always, um, a top of mind, always trying to evolve and, and look at those things, um, to make them better. Mm-hmm

Speaker 1:

<affirmative>. And is there any chance of further expansion of the runs, or do you feel like that is, it's kind of set where it is now

Speaker 2:

In certain ways, there probably is some expansion, um, and you know, there's some thoughts that we've had, uh, you know, and, and how to make, um, a couple of areas better accessible, or maybe a little bit, um, better, um, you know, looking, looking at it strictly from a business standpoint, the, the re the mountain side of the resort has significantly more capacity than the base area, right? So adding a lot of capacity uphill doesn't make sense without addressing a lot of those things in the base area capacity or parking capacity or things like that. We built a brand new parking lot last year, which was a fantastic addition, but if we're gonna continue to expand skiers in the skier, you know, the ski experience, then we need to also continue to look at those things too. Mm-hmm

Speaker 1:

<affirmative>. So, and what about the tubing? Is that gonna come back or is that gone?<laugh>

Speaker 2:

<laugh> yeah. You know, I don't, I don't know that, uh, you know, in the near term there will be any kind of tubing, uh, at the resort. Um, there's not really enough of a bed base to make that thing work at night. Um, there's old powder horn just up the road, which seems to be a very, very popular

Speaker 1:

Up their tubing

Speaker 2:

Spot. Yeah. Tubing spot. So as a business that doesn't really work very well at the moment, maybe someday in the future, you know, we could, we could look at it again, but for now, I don't think that that'll be anything we would want to do in the

Speaker 1:

Near future. My kids ask about a lot, just

Speaker 2:

Say<laugh>

Speaker 1:

It was fun. Yeah. Um, and then there were some other things that, that, uh, were tried up put powder or anything before you got here, they had the, the Bunge, not Bunge, but the, the jumping pit for a while, you know, had a tower and, and jump into the big, um, pit area.

Speaker 2:

Hmm.

Speaker 1:

You know, you go to those other ski area. Sounds interesting. Yeah. And they've got the, the bungee jumping things and all that, but how did, how did C um, affect the skier numbers and the summer numbers up in, up at Powderhorn? And are you, are you still recovering from that? Or was, was it better than expected?

Speaker 2:

Uh, yeah. How do I, how do I say that COVID was actually a really good thing? I mean, it wasn't, it's COVID was an absolutely horrible thing. I mean, millions of people have died. It's a really, really horrible thing that has happened across the globe at the same time for a resort like powder horn or some of the other resorts in our portfolio. It was actually, um, beneficial for us because in cert, uh, just a lot of people stopped traveling. Right. Um, you know, those typical families and I'm, I'm a typical family, you know, that went to Aspen or veil or something like that for a week, or even a long weekend or down to Telluride. A lot of those things really just kind of evaporated the people didn't feel comfortable traveling. They didn't wanna stay in a hotel mm-hmm<affirmative>. Um, so, you know, a day, you know, resort like powder horn, you know, it's a day day's drive or less, um, it's a day resort resorts like that really, um, saw an upswing in visitation. Um, for us, we've been able to capitalize on that and use that to our advantage and continue that growth. So, um, in both summer and winter, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Well, obviously the bulk of your clientele comes from the grand valley. Would you get a lot of people from the other side of the grand Mesa, Cedar Ridge? Do you get a lot of people from Delta Monts?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Uh, you know, that's a, those are all expanding markets for us, Delta Montrose, Ridgeway, um, down, down that direction. Um, and then same thing, I would say, you know, Debe parachute rifle, silk, even in Glenwood Springs, those are all expanding markets for us. We're, we're gaining more and more market share from there. Um, you'd also be surprised there's a pretty large contingent from Utah that comes to Powderhorn too. Um, from green river to Moab all, you know, it's, it's, uh, less drive to get to Powderhorn than it would be to get to any of the salt lake city areas. Yeah. So, yeah.

Speaker 1:

True. Well, I always enjoy when I go up there, you know, I talk to people on the lift and love hearing. Oh yeah. This is our first time at powerhorn we're from front range or even up in the mountains. I I've, I've definitely met a lot more people just trying it out, you know, I've heard good things and wanna come down and check it out.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Certainly the, um, some of the larger resorts have experienced some challenges in the last couple of years, too, just with managing capacity. And that, again, that's proven to be an advantage for a, a resort like powder horn mm-hmm<affirmative>, um, being able to capitalize on people that aren't looking for, that particular experience, um, and, and wanting something a little bit more genuine and authentic and more about the skiing and less about all of the other things. Yeah. Um, that's a, that's a good opportunity for us.

Speaker 1:

Anything else that you wanna share about what what's next for powder horn?

Speaker 2:

Well, again, I, I would just, uh, say, you know, we're always looking at where, where, where are the next things areas of focus? Where are the things that we can expand upon, do better, um, provide a different or better experience without trying to be another Aspen or veil, cuz that's not really what Powderhorn is and that's not what it should be and not everybody wants that kind of experience. Like I, like I had mentioned before, um, how do we, how do we optimize that and make that the best ski area experience? Um, and, and that's what we'll continue to do over the, over the course of the next couple of years.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Well, thank you for your leadership at powder horn. I thoroughly enjoy skiing there. Um, I think you make everything pretty easy. Uh, every once in a while, when I pull up their, you know, crack of 11 and I have to park weight on the road,

Speaker 2:

Early

Speaker 1:

Bird

Speaker 2:

Gets the worm. I know,

Speaker 1:

You know, talk to my kids about it.

Speaker 2:

<laugh> mm-hmm,

Speaker 1:

<affirmative>, I've, uh, they have learned the joys of getting up early and, and being up there early. But, uh, yeah, sometimes on the weekends, it's all about sleeping in, in the winter. So, um, but I think you guys are doing a great job and I just absolutely love skiing there. So keep up the good work and by those season passes, right?

Speaker 2:

Yep. Yeah, exactly. The next deadline is, uh, September 6th. I think it's the day after labor day, um, prices will increase from that 4 79 level to the next one. So make sure you get those passes, um, purchased.

Speaker 1:

I think, I, I think, think I already got mine, but I'm just gonna

Speaker 2:

Make myself note just in case,

Speaker 1:

Right? Check on

Speaker 2:

Passes. Yeah. Yeah. The, the best price is always the, um, two weeks, right before we close mm-hmm<affirmative>, that's the absolute cheapest price that you can, that you can get. Um, and they were on sale for 3 79 back then, so yeah. F fantastic. It's uh,

Speaker 1:

Best deal going.

Speaker 2:

Yep. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, Ryan tram, thank you so much for joining us today. Uh, the website is powderhorn.com.

Speaker 2:

Yep, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So good powder horn.com. You can bypass, you can learn more about the programs that they offer. Ski school, learn to ski, uh, summer programs, mountain biking. It's just a great resort and, uh, proud to have it here in the grand valley as part of our community. So thanks for joining us, everybody. We will see you next time on the full circle podcast. Bye. Thanks for listening. This is Christie Reese signing out from the full podcast.