New Snowshoe President Committed To Making The Resort One Of The Top Five In The East
Snowshoe, WV – When he came in as Interim COO of Snowshoe Mountain Resort in January, Frank DeBerry didn’t plan on making it a permanent move. But he also didn’t plan on falling in love with the mountain and the area. Fortunately for DeBerry, things worked out for him and his family to make Snowshoe their new home. On February 28th, Intrawest CEO William Jensen announced that DeBerry is the new President and Chief Operating Officer of Snowshoe, following the departure of former COO Bill Rock.
With the ski season nearing an end, DeBerry is already thinking about the other seasons of the four season resort.
“I’m excited to start working on a summer tractions plan, putting that together” he says. “Not that we’ll see much change this year, but I want to spend this year putting together a plan that hopefully we can start to unroll for next year.”
He says some of his priorities include making Snowshoe one of the top five ski resorts in the east, becoming West Virginia’s number one rated employer and to be an industry leader in conversion of first timers and creating customer value. He credits the staff at Snowshoe for already putting the resort on the path to meet those goals.
“That’s something that the team had done before I ever got here” he says “I tip my hat to them. I think it’s a great and very focused vision of success for the resort. Really I see myself as the steward of that vision, so those are the things that we’ll be focused on.”
DeBerry elaborates a bit more on his ideas for summer and fall.
“I’d like to see us get in at least one real benchmark festival that’s going to be a large draw of an audience as big as our winter season tends to be” he says. “I’m not sure what genre or what type of festival we would look at, but I think that’s an important next step for us. And truly this is based only on pictures that I’ve seen of what Snowshoe looks like in the fall – but I’d like to see us in the fall business from a festival standpoint, because the photos that I’ve seen are truly stunning.”
DeBerry was the President of another Intrawest resort, Mountain Creek in New Jersey, before it was sold in 2010. Coming from a resort located less than 50 miles from New York City, DeBerry knows the challenge of enticing guests in a region that has many competing attractions. He says with that in mind, Snowshoe will offer mid week discounts and concentrate on offering more attractions at the resort.
DeBerry says the resort will almost certainly invest in a new piece of winter equipment, a type of snow groomer called a Winch Cat.
“What a Winch Cat will do is allow us to better focus on all the step stuff we have” says DeBerry. “It has kind of almost like a crane on top of it and it latches onto a tree at the top of the hill and that helps us be more stable and really dig into the snow better. There are times when Shay [Shays Revenge, one of the slopes in the Western Territory of the resort] would get so icy that we couldn’t even put a groomer on it, and you don’t have that concern when you’ve got a winch cat.”
He also acknowledges that things like the recent death of skier at the resort do have an impact. The young woman was on a beginner slope and was not wearing a helmet according the resort’s press release.
“I’m certainly myself a huge helmet advocate, I’m a huge proactive education advocate” he says. “And I think when you look at a place like Snowshoe where we’ve got a lot of casual skiers who aren’t here quite as often or don’t get out on the snow that often, it’s important for us to continue to remind them of the importance of always being in control and how to be safe on the slopes.
DeBerry says he thinks that people do understand that it is a sport that carries an inherent degree of risk. He says it does tend make a lot of people, himself included, stop and reexamine their own actions on the slopes.
Snowshoe’s winter season is scheduled to end on March 17th. In the meantime, DeBerry says despite some recent warm temperatures, there’s still plenty on snow to enjoy before they close.