Companies starting to fill seasonal jobs |

Companies starting to fill seasonal jobs

NWS Elways DT 10-14-11

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The days of employers being willing to settle for anyone, just anyone, to do any job in this valley are a receding memory. But the employment picture seems to be picking up as another ski season approaches.

Back when the economy was roaring, it was common to see six or more pages of help-wanted classified ads in the Vail Daily. In the recession’s depths, that shrunk to less than a half-page. The Wednesday Vail Daily had just about a full page of help-wanted ads. As news goes, this might qualify as “better.”

These days, employers can be more particular about who they hire. But employers don’t seem to be drowning in applications, either.

Steve Kingsbury is the restaurant manager at the new Elway’s restaurant at the Lodge at Vail, set to open this ski season. During the winter, the restaurant will employ about 90 people, from dishwashers to greeters.

John Imbergamo, who handles communications and marketing for the restaurant, said Elway’s is about halfway to a full staff with a month or so to go before skiers arrive.

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Kingsbury said he’s been impressed by the quality and experience of the people applying for jobs at Elway’s, but that includes managers and “front of the house” people applying right now. The people who work in the kitchen have been slower to apply, but there’s been a lot of interest.

“A lot of people are either underemployed or on a kind of hiatus right now,” Kingsbury said.

And the people who are applying don’t seem to be particularly desperate for work, he said.

“The numbers are very small of people who have been without work for a long time,” Kingsbury said.

The Big O tire store in Eagle-Vail is advertising for several positions right now, and assistant manager Peter Russell said the shop has had responses from people ranging from out-of-state residents with tons of experience to locals looking for honest work. Again, though, there’s been a steady stream, not a flood, of applications.

Even in good times, Russell said Big O is choosy about the people it hires. Add that to the specific skills needed for a mechanic or alignment specialist, and it can be tricky to find the right person for the job.

Even some companies that hire just part-time workers aren’t seeing the number of applicants they were a year ago.

Dave Harkay is the local representative of CDS, a company that provides part-time help – people who hand out samples on weekends – to Costco. The company is advertising for help right now, but Harkay said he doesn’t have many applicants at the moment and is even working with the local Colorado Workforce Center in Edwards to find people.

CDS requires drug tests and background checks for its employees, but it’s certainly not the only local employer that does.

The Resort Co., which runs The Charter at Beaver Creek and the Montaneros and Lion Square lodges in Vail, among other properties, was acquired over the summer by Wyndham Vacation Rentals. That company also requires background checks, and everyone who went through the ownership change had to pass such a check.

Most people passed. Some didn’t. That, and the onset of winter, is why the help-wanted signs are out.

“We don’t have any problem getting applicants, but qualified applicants are needed,” said Ann Russell, human resources director for The Resort Co.’s local lodges. “It’s still a little challenging to find qualified applicants for some positions.”

Russell said the people applying for sales and management positions usually have the qualifications needed. But people applying for jobs requiring specific skills can be harder to find.

“It can be a struggle for some positions,” Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Marketing Director Scott Gubrud said. “It seems like it’s feast or famine.”

Looking for people to fill culinary or technical positions can be particularly tricky, Gubrud said.

“But overall, we’re having good success,” he said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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