Vail Resorts chief, who reshaped industry, tapped for Park City speech
The chairman and CEO of Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts is scheduled to deliver remarks and answer questions in a public setting in Park City on Monday, a rare opportunity for rank-and-file Parkites to confront one of the instrumental figures in the reshaping of the ski industry over the past decade.
Rob Katz is scheduled to deliver an address marking the 25th anniversary of an annual event in Park City known as the Community Leadership Lecture. The Leadership Park City training program hosts the lecture. Katz has led Colorado-based Vail Resorts during an era of expansion that has extended the company’s footprint internationally from its Colorado foundations. The mountain resorts in Vail and Breckenridge in Colorado, and in Whistler, British Columbia, are some of the firm’s best-known destinations. The Vail Resorts season-pass products, under the Epic Pass moniker, are seen as having changed the marketing strategies of the wider industry.
But Vail Resorts and Katz himself have been criticized for having integral roles in what some see as the homogenization of the ski industry as well as the institution of a corporate culture in an industry that for decades seemed proud in some ways of resisting that sort of practice.
Vail Resorts arrived in Park City amid a hotly disputed lawsuit between PCMR’s former owner and a firm under the Talisker corporate umbrella that centered on the resort’s lease of the acreage underlying most of the terrain. Vail Resorts entered the case on the Talisker side, ultimately acquiring PCMR from Powdr Corp. and combining PCMR with the former Canyons Resort to create the largest mountain resort in the U.S.
Many Parkites have been concerned with the increases in traffic, affordability issues and what they see as the corporatization of the community since the Vail Resorts arrival. The firm incensed some Parkites as it pursued a trademark for the name “Park City” as it applies to a mountain resort before, under pressure from City Hall and Parkites, it abandoned the efforts. Others, though, have been pleased with the corporate giving of Vail Resorts and Katz’s personal charitable giving.
Myles Rademan, the director of the Leadership Park City program, said he approached Katz about appearing in Park City for the lecture. Katz has spoken in the past during the annual City Tour by the Leadership Park City class, Rademan said. Rademan said Katz will likely speak for 30 minutes followed by questions from Rademan for 30 minutes.
Rademan wants to ask Katz about leadership-related topics, such as the value of spending corporate funds on leadership training. He could inquire about the process of incorporating a new property into the Vail Resorts structure, leadership challenges and how Katz balances his public and private lives. A question-and-answer session between Katz and the audience is also planned.
“I would assume he is not un-used to hard questions,” Rademan said. “I cannot imagine he’s fearful about answering questions about his company.”
The event is scheduled on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Santy Auditorium in the Park City Library. It is open to the public and is free.
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Thanks to COVID-19 cutting into visitation numbers, Park City’s seasonal workforce is sufficient. In any other winter, “the hiring situation would be dire.”