Terrain Park Manager, Steamboat, Colo.
Education: Colorado Mountain College
First job in industry: Park Digger
Six Word Bio: I followed passion, dirt, snow, diesel.
“From day one David’s been a dedicated, creative proponent of parks; and, more importantly, a true leader for his talented team. He manages five unique and diverse progressive parks. Staff development is a key element of the Steamboat culture, and Dave faced a challenging dilemma with the loss of his top builder heading into the 2014-15 season. He used his connections in the community to bring in a part-time experienced driver, while promoting and mentoring two of his day crew to snowcat drivers. This levelheaded approach shows his maturity, knowledge and willingness to share—ideal aspects of any leader. Plus, through his new driver program, the resort has several individuals on the fast track to becoming expert builders. His contributions don’t stop when the snow melts; he also runs our mountain biking operations. Dave is an up-and-coming leader and one to keep an eye on regardless of the season.”
—Trish Sullivan, Vice President-Human Resources, and Michael Lane, PR Director
How did you get into this role/industry?
I started working on the park crew, moved to an operator position, and finally to management. My childhood room was full of John Deere toys and snowboarding posters, so this role was the perfect match.
What drives you in your career?
Building parks and seeing our guests and locals having fun is awesome, but building a team of dedicated individuals who love their job while furthering our brand is truly where it’s at for me.
What is it that you love about working at a resort?
The people, the environment, and the FUN.
Prior to last season you had to develop a couple of snowcat drivers quickly. How did you manage that?
I did some serious networking and found a very experienced terrain park operator to work with the team during the initial builds. I gave them freedom to change and modify things as their skills progressed. Eventually they were comfortable in all aspects of dozing, shaping and rail transporting. From there, it was all them.
What are the biggest challenges in managing the park?
Steamboat has a very strong brand identity; a successful park has a brand-matched theme that sets it apart from everyone else. One of my goals is that when someone sees a photograph they immediately know that it’s Steamboat. We are also very family-oriented, so we try to make our parks appealing to everyone, not just our park regulars, which is definitely tricky.
You also work on the mountain biking ops. What can resorts do to make mountain biking more of a draw?
Make your park work for all riders. Downhill mountain biking is still new in the big picture and we need to introduce people to the sport in a fun, safe environment. Trails need to be built to ensure that guests leave with a smile on their face wanting more. Guide programs will also help guests learn the sport correctly from the beginning and progress in a safe, smart manner.
How do you want to contribute to the future of the industry?
I’d like to build up employees and foster a work environment that captivates individuals to progress and build a passion for our industry. Terrain parks will progress on their own in a riding and building sense, but hardworking employees who love their jobs is the foundation of our progression.
If you could share one thing about the new generation of resort visitors with the older generation of ski industry employees, what would that be?
Youth are deciding where a lot of families take their vacations these days, and catering to them with terrain park youth-orientated products is a must.