Mad River Glen Cooperative
2023 ANNUAL MEETING OF OWNERS
Hybrid Format – In-person 3rd floor Basebox and virtual via Zoom
Saturday, April 1, 2023, at 5:00 pm
Trustees Present: Matthew Milan, Mariah Riggs, Barclay Rappeport, Will Kriewald, Brad Noble, Carol Pierce Meg Schultz
Presenters: Matt Lillard, Andrew Snow, Britton Rogers, Chris Stephenson, Amory Hunnewell
Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 5:10pm
President’s Report: The 27th annual meeting kicked off with a big thank you to the staff, shareholders, patrons and a special thank you to Betsy Pratt, in memoriam.
Shareholder growth has been strong, with the addition of just over 300 in the last three seasons. Our current shareholder number is 2174.
Strategic Plan – this was finalized and approved by the board to update from the past plan. This will be a living document with ongoing updates.
Finance committee charter was updated. The Communications committee was stood up and began work.
An investment program and policy was approved in March to manage cash reserves going forward.
Additionally the board worked with the GM to set yearly goals and objectives within the strategic plan and aligns with a formal review process.
The board also approved operational budgets, pass sales proposals.
Board’s focus: to invest with our relationship with SMF to clarify and support hte role of philanthropic giving at MRG.
Support management to develop a clear view of Sunnyside Double.
Invest in understanding and enhancing the experience of the shareholders.
Treasurer’s Report: Andrew Snow presented: Finance committee is comprised of staff and shareholders/board members. The mission is to support the Co-op Management and the board in their fiduciary role of ensuring the financial…
Strong pre-season pass sales laid a solid foundation financially. Consistently strong business from Presidents Week through mid-March. Roller coaster earlier this year. Positive results allowed us to take care of our employees including suspended skiing pay for missed shifts due to closures. Ending the season with a strong financial position.
Management Report (Matt Lillard): Strong season pass and seasonal programs helped insulate us from the weather. Advanced ticket sales and limited capacity is working to help us provide better services. The season was bookended – good skiing in Christmas, followed by a poor snow January and beginning of February – continuing to skiing in April for the first time in a few seasons. The weather turnaround was rapid and strong and resulted in staff having to pull it together and really made a difference. Staffing still remains a challenge for the co-op and for many businesses in Vermont.
We will hit 110 days of operations this season with 9 of those days limited to Practice Slope only.
Limited capacity is working – the longest line this season was 40 minutes on the Single. The busiest day was Jan 28, 2023. The goal is a 20-25 minute lift line on the Single most days.Snowmaking was 651 hours this year at an average temperature of 23.5 (4 degrees higher than the normal average)
Capping Saturday programs allowed us to maximize available ski school/freeride/race staff.
Scanning – our busiest day was 9,528 scans.(1/28)
Summer capital projects – Starks Nest will get some paint this summer. Top shack and midstation Single shacks will have some repairs and maintenance as well as Patrol Shack double. The Cricket Club will get a new roof and the heating system in the rental shop will be improved. Additionally IT development will get some attention.
The Pub will open Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day Weekend. The General Store will have some pop-up sales and be available for on-line sales. Fall Foliage will start on Sept 23rd. Green & Gold will be Sep 30, 2023.
Next season – limited capacity will continue. We are anticipating rising costs of staffing and expenses. We will be adding staff in certain areas to enable us to better operate the mountain.
Triple Crown will Return as well as No Stop No Fall!
Opening day will be December 9th. Season pass sales are open NOW!
Facilities Committee Report (Matt Lillard):
Sunnyside Double Mid-Station Project. We are aiming to bring back the midstation on the Double (unload only) – replacing the haul rope (this needs to happen regardless of midstation.) Replacing the DC drive and low voltage controls (also necessary due to code)
Benefits: Access man-made snow on the main mountain when we don’t have natural snow to open from the top. This will allow us to spread out skier traffic from only Lift 4 to more varied terrain. Birdland lift will also have better access. Easier access to beginner terrain and enabling future opportunities for the Birdland Lift.
Estimated costs: $750k (lift companies are difficult to nail down due to the small size of the project.) Funds will be raised as a mix of Co-Op capital and fundraising/loans as needed. The board hopes to bring this project to a vote of the shareholders in Fall 2023 with the target of Summer 2024 build.
Britton Rogers (Chair of Facilities): Britton presented a wrap of the 2019-2020 construction project, which was planned by VT Integrated Architects and managed by Naylor & Breen construction management. The work was completed on schedule and under budget.
Next is the Pub Project. The structure: foundation, floor & roof are currently inadequate and have no flooding resistance.
The exterior building envelope includes the walls, windows and roof. (not including the fireplace room.)
Additionally looking for more efficient mechanical and electrical systems and improve light/views/acoustics, egress and deck.: Conceptual design will be presented at Green & Gold 2023 for shareholder input. After shareholder input and management/board plan for funding, preliminary design and construction plans will be made.
Communications Committee Report: The communications committee was re-created this year in order to better inform and engage shareholders.
Stark Mt Foundation: Chris Stephenson, Amory Hunnewell presenting. The SMF supports 4 season play on Stark Mt. In 23 years, the SMF has granted approximately $8m to MRG. $5.6m for Preserve our Paradise, $1.7m Single Chari and $500+ from SMF annual appeals.
SMF has supported two well planned capital projects and campaigns. Fundraising continues to be successful. This has enabled several projects and initiatives, including: Stewardship; Bridge Building restoration project, Natural Resources Invnentory.
Educate: Jr Backcountry ski program, VT Master Naturalist Program
Play: Hiking/Snowshoe map, StorySki
Scholarships: Childrens Ski Scholarship, Skiing For Scholars
Bear Initiative: education, activities, community collaboration, thought leadership with VT Fish & Wildlife, Chamber partnership with StewardMRV.
Supporting Rick Moulton’s new film to further preserve the recent history of MRG.
Statements by and Questions to Candidates for Trustee Elections:
Shareholder Comments, Questions and Discussion:
Heidi Laliberte: Heidi offered a story regarding Betsy Pratt and her first meeting with Betsy. Heidi experienced the community that Betsy built firsthand. Heidi was lucky to get the painting that used to hang in the Barn. She also offered that she would like to see better relationship building between employees and shareholders. She would like to see an employee appreciation day! She closed with a comparison of Cilantro and Telemarking, which brought the house down!
Dave Krass: Wanted to buy a double chair to support the midstation project. Matt replied that we need to use the chairs!
Jane Regan: thanked the board and management for good information and meetings. For future board meetings she would like to see a housing discussion which may house employees in the future, given the critical housing situation in the Mad River Valley. She also asked a question regarding the use of solar panels and suggested that we get some onto the mountain to improve our efficiency. Matt replied that solar is on the ‘to-do’ list including possibly on the roof of the Basebox and possibly on the Cage. The Co-Op does currently team up with Mehurons to purchase from a solar farm.
Jonathan: Why would the midstation double be unload only? Matt said that the Single Chair is a unique situation but for the double we would need to create two stations and staff with two people. Past history was that the midstation was a load-only primarily, which didn’t get much use, resulting in its removal.
Mark Vining: Talked about the Nieheus maps and asked if we could cover the maps with plexiglass to reduce the damage from ski poles as people look at the maps. Matt commented that the cost of the plexiglass outweighs the cost of replacing the boards.
John Caffery: Commented that he would like a load-able mid-station on the Double and would like to see it priced out. More immediately, he wants to know why we are closing on 4/15 and can we keep the mountain open longer. Matt will look into the load option on the Double and will bring that information to future board meetings. For staying open later into April, we will evaluate based on staffing and snow conditions as well as skier traffic.
Laura Caffery: offered a huge thank you to the staff and commented how great it was to have the Waitsfield Elementary School program here this season. She commented that all shareholders can thank the employees for their hard work.
Lisa Burns: Commented on aging staff and asked what management is doing to attract new staff to address the generational changes. Matt commented that we do have a very dedicated tenured staff but we are starting to see younger, new employees in some departments – ski school, freeski, race, food & beverage. We are continually working on it on the Mountain Ops side.
Al Pierce: Expressed his respect for the current management and shared his experience of the past Mid-Station and how it was seldom used back in the day.and reduced the skiable terrain on lower Gazelle. Generally expressed concern for re-installing the mid-station. Matt stated that the costs will be broken down to separate the haul rope and other necessities. Further discussion will happen as plans develop further.
Dave Knoop: Dave is the ski school director for the past 7 years currently, and started in 1986 (was ski school director when the old midstation existed). Dave spoke in support of the mid-station project, especially from the perspective of the ski school. The mid-station would allow us to use the terrain we DO have and not have to turn business away when we only have lift 4 open.
Catherine Wilson: worked with Terry Barbour, Dave Knoop & Phil Beliveau – she offered support to the mid-station project from the perspective of a ski instructor here. As a shareholder she offered to man it if needed!
Heidi suggested an Easter gathering in honor of Betsy.
Adjournment at 7:15pm
In-State: Bryan Hall & Barclay Rappeport
Out-of-State: Andrew Carey