Skico CEO to retire after 14 years
September 13, 2006
Aspen Skiing Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Pat O’Donnell said Wednesday that this ski season will be his last at the helm of the company.O’Donnell said he will retire after what will be his 14th year with the Skico and 29th in the industry, although he hasn’t set a specific date.”Obviously it’s with mixed emotions,” he said. “I’ll always have a love of the business.”
He disclosed in a letter in the Skico’s 2004-06 Sustainability Report that he is preparing to retire. In that report, which is the company’s self-assessment on environmental issues, O’Donnell wrote: “This is the sixth time I’ve had the honor of writing the introductory letter for the ASC Sustainability Report. And it will most likely be my last. I plan to retire before the next report comes out, after 13 years at ASC.”That statement, which the Skico released Tuesday, left wiggle room because the next report won’t come out until 2008. But O’Donnell clarified his intentions in an interview Wednesday. “I can’t see going further than this coming season,” he said.The 67-year-old said he and his wife will make the house they purchased two years ago south of Grand Junction their primary home. It’s got great access to Moab, several rivers for rafting, a variety of cycling terrain, and it’s only about two hours from skiing in Aspen, he said.
O’Donnell first became a ski industry executive in 1969-70 at Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe, then spent 11 years at Keystone as the vice president of operations. He took a break from the industry to run Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear manufacturer, for seven years. He was running Whistler when he was recruited in June 1994 as the number two man at the Aspen Skiing Co. and a possible successor to Bob Maynard. He passed the test and became president and CEO when Maynard retired a couple of seasons later.O’Donnell said the stellar reputation of the Crown family, owners of the privately held Skico, attracted him to the company. He said working with them has exceeded “my wildest expectations.”They have been very trusting of him and his senior staff and granted them autonomy because they have produced a good bottom line over the years, O’Donnell said. “We’ve had a long leash,” he said.
Mike Kaplan, the Skico chief operating officer, is being groomed to run the company just as O’Donnell was in 1994.”Change is healthy for the company,” O’Donnell said, noting that each leader brings a certain style.Scott Condon’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.