Analysts: Katz brings Wall Street know-how
VAIL ” Industry experts say Rob Katz, Vail Resorts’ new chief executive, will keep the company focused on its Wall Street well-being.
“He is a Wall Street guy, not a real estate guy, not a hospitality guy, but a stock guy,” said Jerry Jones, a longtime ski industry analyst. “The connection with Wall Street is important to the company. And the familiarity with the company is a real asset.”
Katz began working with Vail Associates in 1992, when Apollo Partners took control of Vail Associates. He’s been Vail Resorts’ lead director since 2004 and on the board since 1996.
Jones said the transition should be smooth.
“He’s young and enthusiastic, and I bet he’ll add something to the operation,” he said.
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Nolan Rosall, president of RRC Associates, a marketing and consulting company that specializes in the ski industry, said Katz has a good mix of Wall Street and ski industry knowledge.
“What he’s learned from his experience and background since he’s moved to Colorado to me is intriguing because it’s not limited to the Wall Street background,” Rosall said. “It’s different from someone just moving here from Manhattan to take over the role.”
Katz served as a senior partner with Apollo, and more recently was an advisor with the company. Apollo took Vail Resorts public in 1997. In 2004, Apollo gave up control of the company when it sold much of its stock.
Ivan Feinseth, managing director of Matrix USA, an investment research firm, said Katz has big shoes to fill in replacing outgoing chief exec Adam Aron. Aron got frustrated when Apollo lost control of the board, Feinseth said.
“If (Katz) runs into the same frustration, it won’t be good,” he said.
Ralf Garrison, director of the Advisory Group, a marketing firm that focuses on the destination mountain industry, said the choice of Katz as CEO signals a progression of ski resort companies from mountain operators to a publicly traded companies.
“Vail Resorts is moving right along at the lead of that evolution,” Garrison said. “Its leadership and organizational structure is, too. I would have expected that the person who followed Adam would be consistent with that maturation.”
The company’s announcement of its move to Denver plays into that evolution, Garrison said.
“Put this all together and you see that Katz and the move to Denver are further signs of Vail preparing itself to move into the broader financial merger and acquisition world,” he said.
Harry Frampton, who was president of Vail Associates in the 1980s, said he’s known Katz for five or six years and thinks Katz has good business instincts.
“He’s a bright, smart, energetic guy,” he said.
Adam Aron did a good job of shepherding Vail Resorts’ growth over the last 10 years, Frampton said. Katz’s challenge will be ensuring continued growth in the next 10 years, Frampton said.
“How do they continue to grow Vail Resorts as a major player in the hospitality business?” he said.
Frampton said Katz brought his family to Colorado from New York after 9/11.
“He decided that he wanted to live in the great state of Colorado, so he moved his family to the Front Range,” Frampton said.
Bill Jensen, who has been named co-president of the company’s mountain division, said the appointment of Katz as chief executive was “probably the best decision I could have imagined.”
“He’s very knowledgeable about the company and the organization,” he said.
Assistant Managing Editor Alex Miller contributed to this report.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or firstname.lastname@example.org.