Resort stays ahead of the curve
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:02
It’s a Saturday afternoon at Beaver Mountain. Some customers have season passes and a few buy a $45 lift ticket.
A snowboarder glides through newly fallen powder, giving him a feeling similar to floating on air. Several yards away a skier jumps and speeds through the terrain park, showing off to friends.
Skiing and snowboarding is a part of Cache Valley’s culture and economy.
“We are the longest family-owned ski area in America,” said owner Ted Seeholzer. “Most of them are corporate owned, corporate operated, and it’s a different ball game than if it’s owned by individuals.”
Beaver Mountain has been family owned since its opening in 1939.
Seeholzer said he thinks bigger corporations have more focus on making money.
“Not that we don’t want to make money, we do, but I think the prices, I don’t think a corporation of any size would let you ski on Beaver Mountain for $45,” Seeholzer said. “I think you’d be looking at 60 or 70 bucks. I think the food service would be handled differently. I don’t think you’d be permitted to bring your lunch in the day lodge.”
Seeholzer said Beaver Mountain Ski Resort was down 25 percent from their sales average last season
Many ski resorts in the country are owned by corporations and run on a very large scale. But for a medium-sized resort with no overnight lodging and without the ability to make s ynthetic snow, Seeholzer said Beaver is ahead of the curve.
“I would say on an average maybe ten year period, we generally have been growing six to eight percent a year, which is good,” said operations manager Travis Seeholzer. “Versus typical ski areas, we’re ahead of the curve. We’re kind of an anomaly in the ski world these days. Being a ‘Ma and Pa,’ we’re one of the last ‘Ma and Pa,’ sort of a midsize, day ski area without lodging. There’s not a lot of those around anymore.”
Despite growth in customers each year, last season’s lack of snow affected Beaver’s sales.
“Our student university season pass sales were down significantly,” Travis Seeholzer said. “I blame that on last year. I think we’ll see a lot of that next year maybe. People are like, ‘Oh, is it worth it to buy a season pass?’ and then you have a good year. It hasn’t been a great snow year, but it’s early. I have faith it’s going to change. Early on, we were better than last year.”
A problem the lack of snow created was the building of the new ticket office.
“We were a little concerned, so we decided to back off of this new facility, which will be about 10,000 to 12,000 square feet building,” Travis Seeholzer said.
The new ticket office will be conjoined with the day lodge and will include space for a larger rental area, retail area, food service, a ticket office and ski school.
“That’s kind of the focus right now as far as expanding,” Travis Seeholzer said. “I wouldn’t say for sure it would happen next winter, but we’d like to see that within two or three years, the next couple years. We’ve definitely been planning and looking and shopping.”
The Seeholzers decided to make modern building that can accommodate many different people. Travis Seeholzer knows everyone at the mountain has their wish list. He said the employees often walk into different rooms and find ski rentals laying around.
“The total guesstimate, because I really don’t know a good number, is several million dollars, two to four million,” Travis Seeholzer said. “Part of it will have an elevator. We’ll be able to make a facility that’s modern and capable.”
As a family-owned ski area, Beaver Mountain tends to be more conscience of their funds than a corporate owned ski resort, especially on a million dollar project.
“We don’t borrow money if we can help it,” Travis Seeholzer said. “We like to pay for things, as anybody does. I think in a small business, family business, especially one controlled by mother nature, you get a little nervous that way, especially where our income’s basically four months out of the year.”
Several ski resorts in Utah extend their seasons and avoid the problem of declining sales due to lack of snow by making their own. Park City, The Canyons, Snowbasin and Brighton all have the ability to make snow and consequently are able to open up their trails earlier in the season.