The company town |

The company town

Paul E. Anna

When one thinks of a company town, the image that comes to mind is of smokestacks and a line of grizzled, coal-streaked miners punching a clock as they head off to work for meager wages down in the pit.True, with places like Bellevue, Wash., (Microsoft) and Beaverton, Ore., (Nike) becoming new-age company towns, complete with campuses and gymnasiums for employees, the image has softened somewhat. But still, the phrase “company town” hardly conjures up the vision that Aspenites have for their hometown.And yet, in a way, this is a company town, what with the Aspen Skiing Co. dominating so much of what people perceive when they hear the name Aspen.Last week, Skico, as we have come to refer to “big brother,” ran an advertisement on the back page of Wednesday’s Aspen Times. It was a thank you of sorts. It recognized the contributions of a number of employees who had achieved at least 20 years of service in the employ of the Aspen Skiing Co.If you saw it, you no doubt recognized many of the names in the acknowledgments. You probably knew some of the people personally, and even if you didn’t, you knew who they were.People like Telio Cerise, who sits atop the Tiehack lift in what is arguably the world’s most beautiful office. John Phillips, ski instructor to the stars. Hippy Hyrup, who shares a surname with one of Aspen Mountain’s premier ski runs. Kirk Baker, who in the offseasons practically invented kayaking on the Roaring Fork River.These are all folks who have spent 30 years plus with the Skico and are rocks in our community.The point is the “big brother” in this company town is a pretty good one. It employs great people, gives them an unparalleled environment to work in, and generally treats this town pretty well. Sure, you may have differences with the new Base Village at Snowmass or how they want to expand Burnt Mountain. But we’re not talking Kerr McGee here. They listen to the community, treat their employees with respect, and at least try to do the right thing environmentally.Skico may not always be right. And there is little doubt that the profit motive is important to them. But as the company has recognized their employees, we, too, should recognize the efforts of the Crowns, Pat O’Donnell and David Perry to make this “company town’s” company the best it can be.Kudos.

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