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Leaving the mountain

Don Rogers

Someone in the Avon corporate office isn’t impressed with new CEO Rob Katz.

As sometimes happens, a letter in the mail, from the ether, arrived on my desk today. It’s signed, “Seasons Building Employees.”

Maybe so, maybe not. Who knows? No one who works there would dare express the views in the letter and sign their real name, of course. It could be one and only one employee. Or it might not even ben an employee who wrote the letter and enclosed it in an envelope with the Vail Resorts return address in Avon.



The author accuses Katz of not reaching out to his corporate office employees and being “completely indifferent to who goes or stays.” “Make no mistake that this move is personally motivated by Rob and his family to stay near their Boulder home.”

The author is expecially incensed that Katz answered a Vail Daily question this way: “Whether these 100 folks are here or not here, I don’t think that’s the soul. That would be a mistake, no offense to any of the corporate employees. The soul is what happens on the mountain.”



The letter writer, saying that an “ignorant statement that does not make any of us feel wanted in the office,” wrote: “We are the same people that call in with the powder flu on powder days, ride our road/mountain bikes to work, and keep our dogs in cubicles. … We are not working at Vail Resorts because of the corporate feel to it. We work here because we are passionate about the mountain lifestyle and the ski industry. Like it or not, part of the soul of the company will die when VR moves to Broomfield as Rob disregards the dedication of the Seasons employees and wishes for most of us not to make the move to Broomfield.”

The letter ends this way: “It is our hope that the dedicated employees of the Seasons Building who move to Denver will be treated with respect and loyalty for their sacrifice from Rob Katz as he leads Vail Resorts in our transition. More time needs to spent directly with each department so that Rob can truly understand the soul of Vail Resorts before he speaks to the media unadvised about what is best for the corporate employees and more disparate, cold statements are made about us.”

Of course, this too shall pass. VR will make the move, with whoever is coming along and without folks who decide against moving.



Vail Resorts does not make Cheerios, so where they locate themselves does matter. I think so, anyway. But the letter’s author will find that he or she or they are not so irreplaceable. None of us are. The ship somehow always manages to sail on without us. And generally about as well as before.

For those who don’t move, their replacments will be as competent, if perhaps missing some of the intangibles and passion that a Vail Resorts based in a mountain town would benefit from. It ain’t all Wall Street, after all, even in the corporate den.

It may be that these are lessons that have to be lived in order to learn. And so Vail Resorts shall learn sometime after it makes itself comfortable in a pretty building in Broomfield that carries all the ambiance of a headquarters for a regional insurance carrier.

Still, only a fraction of the company will live this 10th-floor, window or non-window, office existence. Ski patrol, the lifties, the food servers, ticket takers, ski instructors, cat drivers and mechanics will go on doing their thing, maybe even grateful for the corporoids being off in Corporateville where they belong.

What soul is sapped when the brainpower is less connected to the mountain ” if any at all ” will show over time. They are going through with the move, like it or not.

If you work in the corporate hive in Avon, my best advice is to take on your new adventure with all the gusto you can muster. Or quit now.

Now sense whining about it anymore. You do have a choice here.


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