1968 – no more room at the top for Chuck Lewis | VailDaily.com
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1968 – no more room at the top for Chuck Lewis

Dick Hauserman
Daily file photoLewis, Chuck, 1936 - 200
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This had to do with the long-established banking relationship with First National Bank. Doing business with FNB was costly. The original loan was made possible because of the personal relationships of some of the directors with officers of the bank.

Lewis felt that it was necessary for the corporation to consider other banking sources, because he had not been successful in getting FNB to renegotiate its prior arrangement with Vail Associates. Lewis spent time developing other relationships and eventually settled on United Bank.

Many of the directors of Vail had personally guaranteed the FNB loan, which always bothered Lewis. Vail had transitioned to a point where it was no longer necessary to have the guarantors – the bank loan could stand on its own. Lewis believed that the directors should not be encumbered with such an obligation. However, when Lewis arranged a more favorable loan with United Bank, several of the directors, because of their own personal operations, did not want to make the move. They were looking after their personal interests and not after those of the corporation.

As a result, the move to United Bank became an unpleasant issue.

“The FNB loan agreements were tough,” Lewis said. “It was hard to get those directors to back off. I tried to get them to do the right thing for the company, which was to get a better banking relationship. Good business – that’s why I was here.”

It was a sad day when Chuck Lewis decided to leave Vail. He had such a promising career, but he probably felt that there wasn’t enough room at the top. He was very aggressive and creative – a good manager. When he first came to Vail, it became apparent that he was eager, and he instituted many changes. He had a strong personality and didn’t want to be No. 2 forever. He knew that someday, either he or Pete Seibert would have to go. So Lewis made the decision that it was time for him to move on.

Chuck moved from Vail in 1968 and became involved in a construction business. He was still consulting for Vail when the people who wanted to develop Copper Mountain came to talk to him. They said Darcy Brown from Aspen and Jack Tweedy had recommended him. His first time on Copper Mountain was in March 1969, and by that summer, he and his new partners had acquired the base land. Lewis went on to be chief executive officer and was the major thrust in making Copper Mountain what it is today. Although he stayed on for 18 months after Copper Mountain was sold in 1980, he was the one who made it possible. Too bad there wasn’t more room at the top in Vail.

Lewis’s ambition was to become the CEO for Vail, for which he was most qualified. Realizing that such a goal was not obtainable, he decided to leave and pursue other avenues. With qualified men such as Rod Slifer and Chuck Lewis leaving, Vail’s leadership was weakened. As a result, the directors went outside of the organization and brought in a professional CEO as president and made Seibert chairman of the board.

Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 77th installment, an excerpt from chapter 11, “The Corporate Team.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.


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