Resort operator could be key to Mt. Baldy turnaround, but investor capital still needed

By on August 13, 2014
Skiers ride a lift to the top of Mount Baldy. (Keith Lacey file photo)

Skiers ride a lift to the top of Mount Baldy. (Keith Lacey file photo)

An entrepreneur-manager with ski resort experience has been found to help turn around the financially troubled Mount Baldy Ski Area, but investment capital is still needed.

That’s the word from Gary Powroznik, managing director of G-Force Real Estate, the company trying to find a buyer for Mount Baldy Resort’s assets.

“Out of the blue comes this operator who has really got tremendous experience operating a small market mountain elsewhere in Canada very successfully for many years,” said Powroznik. “He brings what we think are some best practices.”

The resort, located 35 kilometres east of Oliver, was closed during the ski season of 2013-14 due to the previous owners’ financial difficulties.

On July 14, the Supreme Court of B.C. granted a conduct of sale to the secured creditor to sell most of the assets of Mount Baldy Ski Corporation and related companies in a foreclosure action.

We’ve got a big piece of this puzzle on our table now,” said Powroznik, who is acting as marketing agent on behalf of the secured creditor. “We need another piece and that is more capital. We think the right capital is what we call local-minded capital.”

Powroznik declined to name the entrepreneur-manager, but said he is an individual with experience in another province not only with a ski operation, but a four-season operation.

Powroznik thinks the new ownership of the Mount Baldy ski resort could be a combination of the major existing secured creditor, the entrepreneur-manager as an operator, and an investor group that may or may not bring expertise.

Mountain manager Matt Koenig has been retained to help find a solution, said Powroznik.

“He is effectively working with us,” he said. “People who have met him see him as part of the new operation because he has lots of experience, he’s well connected and we think he’s well liked. Matt probably held that ski operation together over the last few years when he had very little resources to work from the previous owners.”

Powroznik said he’s been having meetings with potential investors in the hopes that the resort can be opened for the 2014-15 ski season.

It would not be good for the mountain to be closed for a second season in a row, he added.

This means he’s hoping to find a solution by the end of August, even if the actual sale takes longer to complete.

“We need to start really the first week in September because that’s the time it takes to get the mountain ready for December,” Powroznik said.

He cautions that the kind of capital needed is not “get rich quick” capital, but rather a locally oriented investor in for the long haul. This might mean someone in a related business with synergies to the ski resort.

For example, a company involved in road building or lot servicing might find the resort is complementary to their existing business, he said, noting that he used this approach at Mount Washington near Courtenay, B.C. two decades ago.

Mount Baldy Resort has a base elevation of 5,700 feet, one of the highest base elevations, with the most sunshine and lightest powder of any ski resort in the Okanagan, G-Force Group says.

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

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