On March 15, Mount Snow sent out the now well known and well-read memo that barred Mount Snow employees and volunteers from also working at the Hermitage, The Haystack Club, their golf course, real estate, and other associated companies, as of April 21.
Colby Dix, a former Dover selectboard member and current board member of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SEVEDS), was among those who were vocal in their opposition to the policy. While keeping himself actively involved with local economic development, Dix is also an accomplished musician who attended Berklee College of Music, plays in a band with Jon Fishman, and makes a living playing at local venues by performing solo, and with his band Dix Jr.
Dix voiced his opposition to the resort’s decision in a post written on Facebook. Dix said that the policy removed a viable and consistent wage-paying employer from Mount Snow’s employees’ options, and was a “clear line in the sand.” Dix, who believes the policy was a detriment to ongoing economic development and recovery efforts that he is a part of, felt that the policy was unfair to those who work at both resorts seasonally, and might have trouble making ends meet without the income from a second job. Dix’s words of opposition were used by another news publication in an article that detailed the resort’s new policy.
Dix performed regularly at six venues at Mount Snow, and put in a call this week to management looking to schedule performances. That’s when management told him his services were no longer welcome at the mountain.
“I consider it a petty response on the part of Peak Resorts ownership,” said Dix. “It’s surprising because I really feel like I shared a balanced and fair perspective from an economic development standpoint, and as a member of the community. This shows an absolute lack of respect to the interests and opinions of the people of the area, period. It essentially makes a point from a business standpoint that zero criticism will be tolerated.”
While Mount Snow’s letter to their employees detailing the new policies was sent out on March 25, and Dix’s response was published within the following days, Dix was still hired by the resort to close out the snow season with his band, with a show at the Snow Barn on April 14.
Mount Snow was a convenient place close to home for Dix, a Dover resident, to play a multitude of shows without having to travel far from his family. While Dix is subcontracted to play music, and is not employed by Mount Snow, his income from playing at their venues was a significant portion of his income. Dix said this will in turn put a strain on him just as it did to those whom he defended in his commentary.
“It’s my living, and that’s why I feel like it’s OK to be public about this,” said Dix. “They’ve now threatened my livelihood, and also my family in a way. I always had a great relationship with them for many years and that’s why this hurt a lot.”
In his post Dix wrote: “I can understand Mount Snow wanting to keep their well trained and experienced personnel close. By eliminating your employment pool from Haystack’s, you further increase the likelihood of imported labor, and those jobs going to others outside of the region. All the while making it harder for your own employees to make a living locally, and thus increasing the likelihood that they will look beyond this area for stable work.”
Dix said he wrote his commentary with the purpose of speaking for those who work at Mount Snow and could not, due to fear of repercussions from the resort. “They have a family, a mortgage, a car payment. I felt like they didn’t have a voice, and while I certainly had plenty to lose, as is well evidenced by this decision, I at least felt like I could put it out there in a reasonable way, one that I felt warranted this reaction. But that’s their prerogative.”
Dix said that the decision had come from the top management of Mount Snow. When reached for comment, Peaks Resorts Vice President Dick Deutsch said that he had no comment on business matters between Dix and Mount Snow.
The reaction to his opinions is what Dix says shows the true business ethic of the resort.
“This really is a true-colors moment where if they really felt threatened by little old me, this musician writing a letter on Facebook, that shows their insecurity in a lot of ways. Their reaction to blacklist me from playing at Mount Snow altogether, that shows their business ethics, and the real tone of their decision-making and where their priorities lie.
“I’m not looking to have some crusade about this. Does it affect me? Absolutely. Is it a setback? Perhaps, but I have plenty of resources at my disposal.”