Resorts at odds over staff
Mar 21, 2013 | 7312 views | 13 13 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOVER- The valley was abuzz this week over a memo emailed by the Mount Snow Resort human resources department to all staff warning them of management’s conflict of interest concerns over moonlighting at the Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain by Mount Snow staff, and vice versa with Hermitage Club employees working at Mount Snow.

The concerns were prompted in part by allegations that Hermitage Club staff members who were either working or volunteering at Mount Snow have been soliciting skiers at Mount Snow to head three miles down Handle Road to visit the Hermitage Club.

The memo, sent Friday, said in part: “In general working at other businesses in the Valley does not constitute a conflict of interest, however the Hermitage and Haystack have been at times in conflict with Mount Snow’s business interests. Therefore we do not believe it is in Mount Snow’s best interests to have our employees and volunteers working simultaneously for these companies. We value our talented and dedicated staff and hope that you understand that we need to make this business decision to protect our company’s interests. Therefore: Staff or volunteers of the Hermitage, The Haystack Club, their golf course, real estate, and other associated companies may not work or volunteer at Mount Snow.”

The memo went on to say that any Mount Snow staff working or volunteering at Haystack would be grandfathered until the third week of April.

“We recognize that some staff have been working and volunteering at ‘Haystack’ and that this is a change from our earlier stance. Therefore in most cases we will allow those people to finish the season with both companies. However, anyone who chooses to work for the Hermitage/Haystack companies after April 21 may not be rehired or accepted back as a volunteer at Mount Snow or other Peak Resorts.”

The memo also invited Mount Snow staff to a series of staff meetings held over the weekend to explain the company’s position.

Officials at both resorts were generally tightlipped about the dustup.

Mount Snow general manager Kelly Pawlak declined to answer questions about the memo. “Rather than get into specifics,” said Pawlak, “we feel it’s better just to let people know it was a business decision.”

Pawlak added that Mount Snow would not enforce the conflict of interest restrictions for employees who might work at other nearby resorts, such as Stratton or Bromley.

Hermitage Club owner Jim Barnes, who was traveling out of town this week, couldn’t be reached for direct comment. He issued a short statement saying “We don’t understand why Mount Snow would create a policy that directly impacts the workers’ livelihood in the Deerfield Valley. We are sorry to see it cause hardship to employees of either ski area.”

Despite resort officials’ reluctance to publicly discuss the memo and the reasons behind it, word of it spread like wildfire throughout the valley this week. The memo was repeatedly forwarded via email, despite it being labeled “confidential” at the top. A copy was also anonymously mailed to The Deerfield Valley News office, with no return address on the envelope.

As in Barnes’ statement, many expressed concern about workers who might have trouble making ends meet without the income from a second job, as well as benefits that may be jeopardized.

Another issue of concern is the ongoing economic development and marketing efforts among the two resorts, the towns of Dover and Wilmington, and the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is spearheading a combined effort to secure grant funding for a branding and marketing study of the valley.

Chamber executive director Adam Grinold said he had heard of the memo and that it had been a topic of discussion at the chamber’s board meeting this week. But he had not seen the memo and was unsure if there would be any effect on the joint marketing efforts.

“I have heard rumors and comments about a memo regarding employment at Mount Snow and Haystack,” said Grinold. “At this time, this is all I know and without speaking with the two principal parties to learn more, it would be inappropriate of me to comment.”

Others expressed concern over Mount Snow’s exclusion of volunteers who might also work or volunteer at Haystack. Both resorts rely heavily on volunteers, especially as ski patrollers and to help staff special events such as Tough Mudder, concerts, or ski and snowboard competitions.

Rich Caplan, a local real estate broker who partnered his Deerfield Valley Real Estate company with Barnes’ Hermitage real estate operation last year, is also a veteran ski patroller at Mount Snow. He said he was upset by the allegations.

“I’ve been on patrol for 25 years,” said Caplan. “I love Mount Snow, I love this mountain. I would never do anything to hurt it.” 

Comments
(13)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
VTLocalPal
|
April 05, 2013
Looks like Mr. Barnes is seizing an oppertunity here to look like the good guy!! I'll give him credit, as it is a smart move on his part, but I seriously hope that everyone else sees through his act here. The comments of his, saying that he "cannot understand why Mount Snow would create a policy like this", and how he is "sorry to see any hardship to employees", is such total crap!!!!! I mean, come on!!!!!!!!! For him this is the perfect chance to appear innocently concerned, like he deeply cares about all the locals. Yeah right!!!!!!!! All he cares about is money-as in his own wealth. If I'm not mistaken, the Hermitage club doesn't like their employees working for Mount Snow-as in they have a similar policy. And Mr. Barnes-who is so "concerned" about his employees- doesn't allow his staff to ski or ride at Haystack at all!!!!! I mean, let's be real here. I know many, many people who are employed at both mountains. And I don't know a single soul who is here "for the money". People live and work here locally because of the lifestyle benefits as opposed to monetary benefits. Most people who move up to the area here do so because they love to ski/ride. If Mr. Barnes is so concerned about the locals and their well-being, then why doesn't he let them ski Haystack?? That's what the bottom line of this whole issue is. Most of the people who are upset by this are the people who have found a loophole which enables them to ski at both mountains. Which would be volunteering on ski patrol. People who work at Mount Snow can volunteer at Haystack on patrol, and voila, get to ski there. Loophole. Which is coming to an end in a few weeks, and that's the REAL reason why people are upset. I don't have anything against ski patrol, or anyone who works as a patroller, let me be clear about that. I have nothing but respect for those who do that important work. But keeping it real-the only way to ski/ride Haystack under the current policies, (if you are not a paying member of the private club)is to ski/ride as a function of your job, and the only department that can justify that is ski patrol. Many of Haystack's current employees are people who left Mount Snow for various reasons, and many would never go back. Again, let's keep it real here. There isn't exactly an abundance of available jobs over at Haystack. This whole article and the comments of upset people is kind of skewed. Makes it sound like every other local in the valley has paying jobs at both mountains, and it just isn't true. Offers up a bandwagon of sorts for Mount Snow haters. It is trying to paint Mount Snow as the evil, giant corperation here,juxtaposed to the innocent angel Hermitage who does no wrong and out of the two mountains is the only one who cares about its employees- and it's not true. Mount Snow is not perfect by any means, believe me. But last time I checked, they give their employees and their families season passes, and, other than the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, do not restrict skiing & riding, and in fact encourage it! And just by sheer numbers, Mount Snow employs WAYYYY more locals than Hermitage. Mount Snow has not shut down over the past few years, and offers WAYYY more summer employment as they have more than just the golf course. Not saying that either Mount Snow or Haystack is the good or bad guy here. Just that no one has spoken up over the REAL reason that people are upset over the new policy. Come on people!!!!!!!!!!!!!
VT-State-of-Mind
|
March 25, 2013
An ACT250 vote will be presented to the valley when Mount Snow looks to move forward with their base area expansion plans....I hope the residents remember how the mountain treats the locals when they ask the locals to help them get the ACT 250 vote passed. Don't let Mount Snow (aka "Mount Snowjob") fool anyone. This is a battle over snowmaking water which Haystack will win this summer when they build their new base lodge and cut Mount Snow off from using the Haystack ponds. Mount Snow is using the employees as pawns in a much larger chess match and it is disheartening to see a company have such little regard for long-time employees. How can anyone from Mount Snowjob sleep at night when they restrict a seasonal employee from making a living in the off season for working at the only other big employer in the area. If this truely was about a "conflict of interest" then Mount Snowjob would also restrict work at Stratton, or even a summer job a Vail.
cantwejustgetalong
|
March 24, 2013
It is very obvious that Mount Snow has made a very poor deision and obviously gave it little or no thought at all.

I have been coming to the Valley for over 20 years. The people that make it so enjoyable are the people that are busting their butts to make a living. Most working two or more jobs.

I can't imagine the hardship that this will inflict on our local friends and families... Between the internationals that take so many positions and the lack of any overtime available at the mountain how can you restrict your help from other forms of income. It is insane that you believe your staff is sending folks to the Hermitage...have you studied your customer base lately, they want to be at Mt. Snow...... It's where all the action is.

Hopefully Mr. D. will reverse his stance and let the workers work. People need the jobs and Mt. Snow needs to wake up.

I have lost respect for you Mt. Snow. And so have many folks in the Valley. You need to salvage your reputation and quickly!

I urge Mt. Snow to reconsider this policy. You need to do the right thing for the Valley and the people that make you successful.

outsidethebox
|
March 26, 2013
anyone know how much Mr. D. makes in a year for his exceptional work? Go to www.sec.gov and click on company filings. Then go to Peak Resorts. Scroll down to co. officers' compensation. He doesn't need two jobs!
Yirgach
|
March 23, 2013
This is like fighting over crumbs on the kitchen table.

They should read this first:

Vail Resorts Creates Epic Experiences with Customer Intelligence

http://www.sas.com/resources/whitepaper/wp_48883.pdf

menewsgirl
|
March 23, 2013
Just curious ... what about all the waitstaff in the valley that work in multiple competing restaurants ... I've never heard a complaint from those businesses.
outsidethebox
|
March 21, 2013
Doncha know there is more to making a profit than your employee base.
outsidethebox
|
March 21, 2013
thank you for correcting me. I is but a poor multi-job minion trying to make a livin heres in vt. I'm not fortunate enough to have such a high paying job like youse does!
mickeynowak
|
March 21, 2013
My last post was addressed to "outsidethebox"

Please change "employee people" to "employ people" im my last post
mickeynowak
|
March 21, 2013
I have been working at wastewater treatment plants most of my life. Shoveled a lot of s%*# through the years. Not even remotely rich. That is completely prejudicial statement on your part and I am asking you to withdraw it. Business need to make profits. That is how they employee people and fund capital improvements. Mt Snow has been a good neighbor in the valley and has contributed greatly to the area. I detect that people are taking this decision too personally.
N717
|
March 21, 2013
I can certainly understand that a business would not want a worker referring people to another competing business. That being said, Mt Snow could take action against any employees who do that. Why come out with such a broad stroke for all workers and especially volunteers? I would think this policy is illegal and I hope that someone challenges it. It has always been true that to live here (and in most resort areas) many have to work multiple jobs, either more than one at a time or different ones in different seasons. In terms of public image and certainly in terms of being supportive of people who live and work here Mount Snow has really dug themselves a huge hole and will probably have many more people who do even not work for them giving them a poor review.
mickeynowak
|
March 21, 2013
This could be a problem for some people but a perfectly understandable business decision by Mount Snow. There's not too many businesses that would allow their employee's to work for the competition.
outsidethebox
|
March 21, 2013
what competition? 450,000 skier visits vs 15,000 if haystack can ever get off the ground. Mt. Snow's top guns need to have more faith in their product. The best run ski areas in VT all have valued their communities. Let's not start a trend here! Mickeynowak you must be rich and not have to work more than one job!