New CEO speaks to employees
Here is a note from new Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz to company employees following the announcements this morning about the organization’s changes and headquarters move to Denver:
To Everyone at Vail Resorts:
Today we made three important announcements regarding my appointment as your new Chief Executive Officer, the promotion of several key executives, and the decision to move the corporate and administrative offices to the Denver metro area. Those public announcements are attached.
I’d like to introduce myself to all of you and talk about the great opportunity I see in front of the Company. I also want to let you know that I empathize with the personal impact that moving the Avon headquarters will have on some of you, and I will address that directly later in this e-mail.
I first came out to ski at Vail in 1990 and after many years of skiing in the East – I was blown away. In 1991, I became part of the team at New York-based Apollo Management, my employer from 1990 through 2002, that started looking at Vail Associates to see if it was a good investment opportunity. In 1992, Apollo took a controlling stake in Vail’s parent company and I started my long relationship with the business and employees of Vail Associates. I had the opportunity to participate in many of the great developments for the Company, including the acquisition of Arrowhead and the resulting development of Bachelor Gulch, the acquisition of Keystone and Breckenridge and the initial public offering that followed, the opening of Blue Sky Basin, and the acquisition of Heavenly.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
I also interviewed Adam Aron for his CEO position at Vail Resorts.
I am so appreciative of Adam’s contributions to the Company. I truly believe he brought a whole new level of sophistication to the mountain resort industry. I am also appreciative of the almost 10 years I had to work closely with him. I wish him much success in the next chapter of his life.
I am thrilled to be able to take the job of CEO at Vail Resorts. It is a company with the best assets, best employees and brightest future in the mountain resort industry. I am very much looking forward to my involvement with the Company and supporting you to take Vail Resorts to the next level. The promotion of certain key executives that I announced today is my first step toward positioning management for the future. I see nothing but opportunity for Vail Resorts.
My decision to relocate the Company’s Avon headquarters is very much about capitalizing on that opportunity. I have been part of a number of discussions in the past about where the right location is for our headquarters. It was considered after we acquired Breckenridge and Keystone, after our expansion into lodging and again after the acquisition of Heavenly. It is clear to me that our headquarters needs to be more centrally located to all of our operations, particularly when you consider the possibility of further strategic expansion. In addition, I believe there is much to be gained by bringing together our lodging division and sales and marketing groups.
Currently, our plans are to relocate approximately 100 people from our Avon office to the Denver metro area. While that number is relatively small compared to our total peak employee base of nearly 14,000, I am acutely aware that there is a real personal impact to anyone who is asked to relocate. Some may see the great opportunity created by the change, others may be challenged by the thought of moving from the Vail Valley. I want to commit that I and the entire management team understand this, and that we will be working closely with those affected to help with this transition.
While there may be some pain during this relocation, I am confident that the Company will be in a much better position once it is complete. We are in the midst of a very exciting year and I’m sure that I can count on all of you to help keep the Company on track over the next few months.
I am pleased that a number of our key senior executives have already agreed to move to our new location, including our CFO, Jeff Jones, our General Counsel, Martha Rehm, our head of Marketing and Sales, Chris Jarnot and our controller, Mark Schoppet. I would also like to let you all know that Rick Smith (Vice President of Human Resources) and I took the opportunity of this transition to talk frankly about Vail Resorts’ future, including the company’s move of its corporate headquarters to the Denver area. While Rick fully supports the company’s decisions and plans, he and I came to a mutual decision that he will not be joining Vail Resorts at its new location. I want to thank Rick for all his service to the Company and wish him the best for the future. Martha Rehm will act as the interim head of corporate HR in Rick’s stead during the transition.
Over the next several days you’ll be given the opportunity to let our management team know your concerns through relocation surveys and other avenues set up to be both responsive and confidential. I encourage you to let us know your thoughts. You should also not hesitate to discuss any of the changes I’ve announced today with your immediate supervisor or manager. Your input is critical to our ability to help you and your families through this transition.
In the meantime, I want us all to keep focused on providing our guests unforgettable vacation experiences. All of you, at every level of the Company, have made Vail Resorts what it is today. Going forward, we will accomplish many exciting things together * resort upgrades, development opportunities and high-energy marketing programs.
With your help, I look forward to leading Vail Resorts into the future.