Norton does double duty as Skico cuts costs
The Aspen Skiing Co.’s efforts to cut costs due to the slow start to the season are going all the way to the top of the company hierarchy.
The company has decided not to replace former Vice President of Marketing Kitty Boone. Instead, Chief Operating Officer John Norton will take on additional marketing duties, he said Friday.
“It’s back to the future for me,” said Norton, who previously had a direct role in the Skico’s day-to-day marketing efforts before being promoted to his post as the Skico’s second in command, last season.
Norton said he will remain as chief operating officer. However, his duties will be split between marketing and mountain operations “for the foreseeable future.” Marketing will take up about 75 percent his time, with 25 percent dedicated to mountain operations.
He wouldn’t say how much the company would save by not replacing Boone, who resigned to spend more time with her family, including two young children. The vice president of marketing is a senior management position, so significant savings could come from not picking up that salary.
The decision had nothing to do with the quality of applicants the company has received, according to Norton. A qualified field of applicants has come from within the company, within the skiing industry and from outside the industry, he said.
Skico officials were interviewing for the opening and were within a few weeks of filling the position, when Norton said he and Skico President and CEO Pat O’Donnell discussed the idea of Norton taking over the marketing responsibilities. O’Donnell took the idea to the ownership group, which is headed by the Lester Crown family of Chicago, and received a green light for the move.
The move was also possible, Norton said, because operations of the company are running well. Shifting his focus onto marketing will place more responsibility for the running of the four ski areas on Mike Kaplan, vice president of mountain operations.
Norton said the move also makes sense because of his marketing background. He started his career in marketing outside the ski industry, then headed Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s effort, instituting the smashing success of free skiing early in the season. Norton also proposed the Skico’s successful multiday lift-ticket discount program this season.
He won’t have any time to ease into his new role.
“In the next few weeks, we start working on next season in earnest,” he said.
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