Skico shuffle makes Norton the No. 2 guy
The Aspen Skiing Co. announced major adjustments to its seniormanagement team yesterday by creating or resurrecting some positionsand promoting five staff members. In one of the moves, Senior Vice President John Norton was promotedto chief operating officer, according to Skico President and CEOPat O’Donnell Norton will remain in charge of operations at the Skico’s fourski areas, but take a greater role in marketing, new businessdevelopment and food services, as well.”This does, for the first time, put him in the true number twoposition,” said O’Donnell. “John has earned it. He’s got a broadspectrum of experience and has real creative talent.” The other moves, effective April 1, are: Craig Ferraro’s promotion to chief financial officer. He is replacing LaurieDanks, who is leaving the company to become a partner and CFOwith Aspen-based Paradise Bakery. Ferraro will be responsiblefor financial operations for the entire company as well as accounting.He joined the Skico in 1996 as director of financial planningand analysis and was promoted to director of new business developmentin 1998. Ferraro, a certified public accountant, has an MBA fromthe University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business anda degree in accounting from the University of Colorado. Mike Kaplan was promoted to vice president of mountain operations and willreport to John Norton. The position resembles one formerly heldby Jon Reveal and eliminated about three seasons ago. In additionto overseeing operations, Kaplan, who joined the Skico in 1993,will continue to oversee all the Ski and Snowboard Schools ofAspen. Before the promotion, he was director of the ski schools,but Norton said Kaplan has extensive experience in all facetsof mountain operations. Kaplan has an MBA from the Universityof Denver and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado,where he was a member of the ski team.Rich Burkley was promoted to managing director of the Ski and Snowboard Schoolsof Aspen. He will report to Kaplan. Burkley joined the Skico in1989 as a financial analyst and has served in numerous capacities,most recently as director of administration for the ski schools.Weems Westfeldt has been promoted to director of operations for the Ski and SnowboardSchools of Aspen. Westfeldt, a noted ski instructor, joined theSkico in 1986 and most recently served as manager of the ski schoolsat Buttermilk. The promotions demonstrate the Skico’s preference to hire in-housewhenever possible, according to O’Donnell. He said that Norton’s promotion is possible because the mountainoperations of the Skico are handled so capably by the four mountainmanagers plus Snowmass general manager Doug Mackenzie. Kaplan’spromotion will further benefit that side of the business, O’Donnellsaid. The Skico hasn’t had a chief operating officer for three years,since O’Donnell held the position before taking over as presidentand eventually CEO. While Norton’s promotion will be a sort of test to see how hehandles greater responsibilities, O’Donnell said it doesn’t foreshadowhis own departure. “I’m not going anywhere, at least not that I know of,” said O’Donnell.Norton said he is looking forward to his expanded responsibilities,although it means less time on the slopes and more time in theoffice, “which is sad,” he said.His increased involvement in marketing and food service is a reflectionof Norton’s creative skills, not a poor performance by other staffmembers, O’Donnell stressed. Marketing is one of the most challenging aspects of the ski industry,which has been relatively flat for years. Like much of the Coloradoski industry, the Skico has taken its lumps this winter. Customers visits – the number of skiers and snowboard riders hittingthe slopes – will likely decrease by “low double digits” comparedto last season, according to company officials. “Hopefully this year is an anomaly,” said O’Donnell. He and many other Colorado ski industry executives believe poorearly-season snow conditions irreparably harmed the season. Evenwhen snow started falling in January and continued through February,business didn’t recover.
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