Done deal

Rusty Gregory, CEO of Mammoth Resorts, signs the final documents making Snow Summit and Bear Mountain part of the Mammoth family. Also pictured are, from left, Dave Likens, vice president of real estate and acquisitions for Mammoth Resorts, Wade Reeser , vice president of operations for Big Bear Mountain Resorts, and Brent Tregaskis, general manager of Big Bear Mountian Resorts.

 

There wasn’t a lot of fanfare. No earth-shattering, window shaking breaking news that sent shock waves across the nation, or even across Big Bear Valley. Having been in the works for months, the penning of signatures on the final documents closing the sale of Big Bear Mountain Resorts to Mammoth Resorts happened seamlessly.

As Dave Likens and Brent Tregaskis sat down with The Grizzly at Snow Summit to talk about what’s ahead, snow was falling in earnest outside the window. That made Likens, who now calls Big Bear Lake home, smile. Likens is the vice president of real estate and acquisitions for Mammoth Resorts and helped with the sale of the Big Bear properties to Mammoth. He’s staying in Big Bear for now.

Tregaskis worked for Snow Summit close to 20 years ago, left for Jackson Hole and returned to run Bear Mountain about 15 years ago. He is now the general manager for Big Bear Mountain Resorts, overseeing the operations of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit under Mammoth’s ownership.

There are no major changes that will be obvious in the coming months, Likens says. Big Bear Mountain Resorts will be more participatory in the community, finding ways to promote tourism and create a positive guest experience, Likens says. 

Mammoth Resorts believes in incremental and marginal improvements, improving bed base and summer activities. “We’re in the ski business, but we’re in the sunshine business,” Likens says, explaining that in Southern California there are more sunny days than not. Guests to the local resorts could see the addition of a zip line or climbing wall that are open in February, he says.

“We are aggressive about entertaining guests,” Likens says. We want them to come back and know that there are other ways to recreate besides skiing and snowboarding, he says.

Likens says the town of Big Bear is wonderful, and he sees the new ownership as a way to build an overall stronger fabric. He says there isn’t the presumption of making plans without understanding what works. There is no plan to change the look and culture of the local resorts. Likens says the goal is to provide an experience that is financially beneficial for all stakeholders, including the business community. Marginal improvements make big differences over time, he says.

Summer activities are a big part of Big Bear Mountain Resorts, Tregaskis says. Likens says mountain resort communities across the country now have bike parks, climbing walls and other similar activities to keep them salient year-round. Low level mountain bike trails could be developed by summer, and Likens says the resort is working with the US Forest Service on those trail developments. It’s a way to keep in touch with the resorts’ customers during that six months when you are waiting to talk to them again, Likens says.

Likens says the goal is to capitalize on the strengths of the resorts and spread them across the two. He wants to bring the energy of Bear Mountain back to Snow Summit and see the beginner experience find its way to Bear Mountain. 

The ultimate goal is to combine the two local resorts, Likens says. 

Big Bear Mountain Resorts is an important brand, and the operation should be as one, Likens and Tregaskis say.

In the first year, Likens says developing a master plan is the goal, but that takes time. The first step is understanding the customer and the market, he says. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times regarding the sale, Rusty Gregory, CEO of Mammoth Resorts, stated he expects to hold community meetings as soon as April. He and his staff want to meet with employees and neighbors, Gregory stated.

Dick Kun, who served as the president and CEO of Snow Summit and Big Bear Mountain Resorts for five decades, stated he is pleased with the sale of the Big Bear resorts to Mammoth. It’s a win-win for all stakeholders involved, Kun says. “These include Mammoth, most of the employees, the suppliers, local businesses and the Big Bear economy in general,” Kun says. He went on to say the skiers and snowboarders of Southern California and the Snow Summit shareholders also benefit by the sale.

“I am both humbled and proud to have been able to lead the way in making this sale the culmination of my life’s work,” Kun says.

Tregaskis says while Big Bear Mountain Resorts has existed for 13 years since Snow Summit purchased Bear Mountain, the two have essentially operated independently. Some operations were consolidated such as accounting, but that is about it. The two will become one moving forward, he says.

Actually, four just became one under the Mammoth Mountain Resorts umbrella offering the skiing and snowboarding public a Cali4nia experience.

Contact reporter Judi Bowers via email at

jbowers.grizzy@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @BBGrizzly.

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