Chuck Lewis – a master with working capital |

Chuck Lewis – a master with working capital

Dick Hauserman
Daily file photoChuck Lewis was a great asset to Vail.

Lewis was a skier and knew quite a lot about skiing and the other ski resorts in Colorado. He joined Arthur Andersen in 1959, and as time went on he became more involved in some of D. Hubbards’s Vail activities.During this time, Lewis became acquainted with Jack Tweedy and Pete Seibert as they were working on financial projections for Vail’s future. This led to his finally joining the Vail organization.Lewis left Arthur Andersen at noon one day and went to get a sandwich before going up to Jack Tweedy’s office. That was the start of his employment with Vail. Within a couple of hours, he and Tweedy were on a plane to Lincoln, Neb., to see Charley Jacobson at Lincoln National Life. Lincoln National and Northwestern National were the two major lenders for Vail Associates.”We walked into Charley’s office and had all the normal pleasantries, and then he looked at us and said, “Well, you guys are basically bankrupt. What else is new?,'” Lewis sais. “That put why I was there into perspective. I had to try and get control of a lot of financial aspects of the company.”From that moment on, it wasn’t that there was anything wrong, but it took Lewis a long time to unscramble what had happened to the working capital. Basically Vail had gotten into projects when there was inadequate working capital. One of the key goals was to have Lewis get into financial planning and analysis so that Vail could work its way out of its predicament.All the lots on Bridge Street were originally on land leases. By selling the lots to the lessees, Lewis figured he might get some cash into the company. This was done because Vail was pretty much at the end of its ability to borrow. Originally it was hoped that Vail would own the land under the leases, but that did not work out in many cases.Lewis was hired and given the title assistant of general manager, and in 1965, when Vail was incorporated, he was given the title of executive vice-president and treasurer. He was now firmly ensconced in operations and an ideal backup for Pete Seibert.”I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t think it had potential,” Lewis said when asked what he thought at that time of Vail and its potential. “There was a change going on in the recreation industry. I wanted to be part of it. Sure, there were challenges, but it was having a project being put together in a creative way that led to my desire to come here. That was the lure. Once here, it was obvious there were things that you wouldn’t find anyplace else.”When asked to explain further, he said, “It was the uniqueness of the community spirit. I’ve never seen people pull together for a common goal like they did here. I didn’t find that type of person when I was later starting Copper Mountain. I can’t tell you what the magic was, but you didn’t see it in Aspen or Snowmass – just here. That was very apparent. No matter who was visiting – press, travel agents, whomever- everyone turned out to tell them how great Vail was.”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 74th 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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