Vail Resorts eyes Denver-Boulder corridor
AVON ” Vail Resorts could be based in the Broomfield area as early as this summer.
That’s the word coming from new chief executive Rob Katz, who sent an e-mail to Vail Resorts employees Monday saying the company is looking at new corporate offices in the “U.S. 36 corridor” between Denver and Boulder.
Company spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga confirmed the validity of the e-mail but declined to comment further Tuesday.
In addition to Broomfield, that area includes communities like Superior and Westminster, as well as Louisville and Lafayette farther north of U.S. 36. A great many office parks exist along the highway that links Denver to Boulder, and Katz cited that as a plus in his e-mail, saying employees could easily live in one city or the other ” or in any of the communities in between.
Katz, who took over as chief executive Feb. 28, lives in Boulder.
Immediately after the announcement of the move, rumors circulated that Interlocken ” an office park in the Broomfield area ” was the destination. The company at the time said nothing more specific than the Denver metro area was its destination.
In his e-mail to employees, Katz said the company should make a final decision on a new location within the next several weeks, with relocation taking place by the end of July. In announcing the move at the end of February, he said it was being made for a number of reasons, including less-expensive office space and a more central location.
Not everyone buys that reasoning, as evidenced by numerous letters and Web site comments received by the Vail Daily following the announcement. Vail Mayor Rod Slifer said he didn’t think real estate had anything to do with it, but said he could see the advantages of a Front Range office for the senior executives.
“They spend a lot of time on the East Coast with brokers, they’re traveling all over the place,” Slifer said. “It’s also more convenient for people flying in to visit them ” although I hope those people come ski in Vail.”
Slifer noted that the number of employees moving ” 100 out of thousands ” is relatively small. Even so, there is that name.
“The name of the company is ‘Vail,'” he said. “I was sorry when they left Vail and went to Avon, but life goes on.”
Don Cohen, executive director of the newly forming Economic Council of Eagle County, said there’s little doubt the company will realize some cost savings on the Front Range. But there’s more to it, he said.
“You can’t show passion on a balance sheet,” he said. “It gets to the idea of understanding that the environment that you do business in is so much a part of being immersed in it.”
Cohen said what he hears locally is that the move is a mistake.
“The people who are well-informed and who are long-time observers of the ski industry and the company really have said they believe the relocation will not prove to be a great thing for the company,” he said. “It gets to the idea of pulling away from your roots and transplanting your business in foreign soil.”
Still a presence
While the company’s headquarters is relocated, Vail Mountain President Bill Jensen, Beaver Creek chief John Garnsey and other mountain operations managers will still be present in Eagle County. Those are the people who have handled most of the dealings with the local community anyway, Slifer said.
“I think they’ll pay a lot of attention to what goes on,” Slifer said. “Bill has been very receptive and available, and that won’t change.”
For those employees who are faced with moving or finding another job, Katz said in his e-mail that the company is working with those people.
“I completely understand that for those moving from Avon and for those who are impacted from the RockResorts and Lakewood offices, this is still a time of adjustment,” he wrote, referring to the lodging-division offices already in Denver.
“I want to let you know that I and the entire senior management team are committed to working with all of you through this process. When we have made our final selection of an exact building, I will pass that information along.”
There’s no word yet on how many of the corporate employees are making the move and how many are making other plans. So far, the only member of upper management who’s decided against the move is human resources vice president Rick Smith.
For Cohen, there’s a bit of culture shock in store for the company as it makes its move.
“Here, you know you’re working for the big dog in town,” he said. “Down on the Front Range, you’re just another name on the directory in the office park. It can cause a company to lose its vision and passion.”
He added that the corporate world is full of such moves to relocate headquarters near the chief executive’s home town.
Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or email@example.com.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado