The Business of Skiing

February 1, 2010

This past weekend, 130 SOM students traveled to Warren, VT to enjoy the beauty and splendor of Sugarbush Resort. Not only did we have two fabulous days of skiing, but had the opportunity to spend an hour speaking with Win Smith, the president and owner of Sugarbush.

SOM Students at Sugarbush (photo by Hilary Boller)

After a brief overview of his 29-year career at Merrill Lynch and how he came to purchase Sugarbush, he answered our questions on a range of topics from real estate management, financing, and ticket pricing to the pros and cons of installing detachable high-speed quads. Win impressed me on a number of levels. He has an incredible business acumen, interspersing business concepts and terms within a discussion of snow-making and lift maintenance. He also understands the softer skills necessary to make Sugarbush a profitable enterprise. He cares about his people, the environment, and the culture that exists within the Mad River Valley. Working within these values, he's created a profitable business out of the disaster that the former owners created. As a lifelong skier, native Vermonter, and frequenter to Sugarbush, I walked away feeling not only impressed, but a kinship to the former Wall Street executive. I'm already looking forward to next year's ski trip. Many thanks to the Ski & Snowboard Club for organizing such a great event!

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Jason Kearns