After due notice, the Annual Meeting of Owners of the Mad River Glen Cooperative was convened at 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 6, 2013 on the third floor of the Basebox at Mad River Glen Ski Area (“MRG”) in Fayston, Vermont.
Also present were President Wimble and approximately 150 shareholders.
At 5:00pm Chair Elkind called the meeting to order. After welcoming the assembled he introduced the trustee’s, Bob Demont and the three candidates running for election, Roy Liu, John Stetson and Eric Palola. He also described the minor wording change to the bylaws on the ballot.
General Manager Jamey Wimble then gave his report on the 2012-13 season. He described it a roller coaster season: starting with a good holiday week, a poor January and finishing with a strong March. He thanked all of his management staff and employees for a job well done throughout a challenging year.
He then presented the treasurer’s report for the year. An overall below budget performance but the Co-op cash position will improve slightly from prior year due to the proactive steps taken by management and staff while maintaining “baseline” capital expenditures. He noted that skier visits were up 30% over a poor prior year, Pass sales were up 7% and Mad Card sales down 4%. He detailed some near term (POS system in basebox) and long term (lift and building maintenance, snowcat, etc) capital needs. He also gave thanks to Treasurer Liu and all the Finance committee members for their participation this year.
Chair Elkind then presented the assembled a detailed report about the passion and legacy the founders and skiers of Mad River Glen and the challenges the Co-op faces. He explained the continual decline in our NOI resulting from shorter ski seasons and costs increasing faster than inflation and ticket prices. He detailed the numbers forecasted to simply maintain what we have without improvements and the amount of additional funds we need to raise to do so. He also suggested fundraising as a solution to our problem.
He asked that we all work together to find a solution to our long term problem.
Trustee Bruns gave an impassioned speech about the history of Mad River Glen, the transition to a cooperative and the struggles prior boards have had regarding sustainability.
After his speech Chair Elkind and GM Wimble thanked trustee Bruns for his six years on the board. They presented him with a plaque to honor his service to the Cooperative.
Trustee Holtan, Chair of the Fundraising Committee gave her presentation of the start of a major fundraising initiative. She identified the five areas the Co-op needs to support through this fundraising campaign. She explained about the upcoming survey which should take only 6-8 minutes to complete.
She then introduced Bob Demont of Demont and associates. Bob gave a brief overview of his tasks ahead and encouraged all to participate in the upcoming survey.
Chair Elkind then opened the floor to questions and comments from shareholders which included the following:
Q: While I like idea of fundraising, I’m not optimistic. Do you have a Plan B?
A: Focused now on primary plan, right now we don’t have a plan B, realistically Jamey’s been implementing Plan B for years.
C: Lu Putnam commented it was very good meeting so far. The grooming has been great past few days. She is interested in doing a study of snowmaking. All season we’ve heard about BAMP but nowhere is mountain or equipment mentioned which wouldn’t give us one more day of skiing. She wants the primary focus to be on the mountain, not the base area. Suggested a complete study be done of the mountain, – snowmaking, glades, water, etc.
Q: Didn’t see a survey about scanning this year. I showed up and they’re scanning. Don’t know how it helped the Coop…
A: (Jamey W) – We didn’t know comfortable carrying capacity of mountain. We might have known how may paid tickets we had, but never knew how many PEOPLE were on mountain each day.
C: Sustainability – we can’t be in debt, and our parking lot determines how big we’re ever gonna get, so I vote for making snow to get skiers here. They don’t care about the building.
Q: Do we have access to SB’s data from scanning and does Sugarbush have access to our scanning data?
A: JW – We thought that through very carefully. What we get is just the number of skiers. Our people don’t have personally identifying information on our passes. Sugarbush does not know who our skiers are and we don’t know who theirs are.
C: Thinks that cars in parking lot is a good indication of number of people on mountain, don’t want to be scanned.
Q: Why are we charged $25 to get replacement ticket if forgot pass?
A: The $25 fee is to replace a lost pass.
Q: Any data on credit card fees and how much is shareholder usage? A shareholder advocated for more info on passes to enable POS system.
A: Credit card fees are about $50,000 annually. People are encouraged to use cash.
Q: APR “was created to provide a cushion against crap seasons”; has stayed at $200 since ’95 – should we consider raising that perhaps. $36M raised by the Pan-MA challenge. They’ve built a brand and used it with other businesses. We seem like a great brand – are there any ethical businesses out there there with whom we could partner?
A: Raising APR doesn’t close the gap; APR only changes timing of income. We believe our brand will help us raise the money we need to be sustainable.
Q: Can we have a deal with SB to be able to go there when we’re closed
A: Sugarbush did provide season pass holders with discounted skiing at Mt. Ellen this season.
C: Many people don’t know how much it costs businesses to use a card. Please try to use money.
Q. Is Verizon maintaining the road to Birdcage lift?
C: Have followed science of climate change since mid-60’s. Snowmaking is most important thing that’s been brought up.
C: Stadiums are installing natural turf; can we apply that to snowmaking?