ACRA honors Aspen businesses |

ACRA honors Aspen businesses

ASPEN A property management company, a ski and snowboard manufacturer and the Aspen Music Festival & School are all on the top of their game, according to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.ACRA President Debbie Braun announced the 2007 Business of the Year winners Thursday at the annual Winterskl luncheon at the Crystal palace. The winners are as follows:Business of the YearFrias PropertiesFounded in 1985, Frias Properties originally was formed under the name Aspen Club Properties. Dick Butera and Chuck Frias joined forces to create a property management, vacation rental and real estate office. In 2000, they combined with Aspen native Tim Clark and they doubled the size of the business. They currently employ more than 60 people, many of whom have been with the company for 10 to 20 years. In their application, they identified adequate number of employees as the biggest threat to success. They have taken action as a company by purchasing employee units, offering competitive wages and retention packages. The committee was very impressed that so many of the owners and staff volunteer their time to sit on local boards and advisory committees, Braun said. As a longtime business, they want to ensure the future health of Aspen for years to come. Frias Properties contributes to dozens of nonprofit and for-profit organizations within the community and is one reason it was named Business of the Year. Emerging Business of the YearHigh Society FreerideThe business was started more than four years ago and is rider owned and rider operated. In the fall of 2003, a few friends in their 20s were living in Aspen and working multiple jobs to save enough money to launch the company. The concept and philosophy for the company developed two years before they saved up enough money to officially incorporate. They strive to build a business that embraces skiing and snowboarding equally. An important part of their philosophy is community involvement. Since the beginning, they have donated ski and snowboard gear to charitable organizations. This year they also donated a percentage of online sales to various charities and community groups throughout the country. Nonprofit of the Year Aspen Music Festival & School The Aspen Music Festival & School has been in the Aspen area for 59 years and has never won this award. The organization grew out of a gathering that was held in 1949. The event drew musicians and humanitarians from across the country. The organization today employs 34 full-time year-round staff. In the summer, the festival has an additional 98 full-time employees. It attracts hundreds of distinguished musicians every year. Every summer, students arrive from around the world last year 39 countries were represented to take part in the summer programs that the festival and school offers. Today, programs attract more than 750 students, more than 125 teachers and coaches from around the world, and, in the course of nine weeks, offer more than 350 performances. A quarter of them are presented free to the public. In 2007, the music festival attracts 100,000 attendees, and, according to their survey, 96.9% of them plan to return this year. As the oldest arts organization in the city, the festival and school draws more than 30 percent of summer visitors to Aspen.

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