December 3, 2011
Small firm promotes state’s skiing industry
Tucked away in Preble, Ski Areas of New York has been quietly getting the word out
By STEVE HUGHES
PREBLE — Nestled in Cortland County is the state’s sole skiing lobbyist, Ski Areas of New York.
Ski Areas of New York is a small operation. If you drive past it, you might never notice it was there. It’s a tiny log cabin nestled on Currie Road, in Preble.
But that small organization is a powerful promotional engine for the state’s ski resorts.
New York has more than 40 ski resorts, the most of any state in the country.
The responsibility of promoting those mountains and educating the state Legislature and the public falls on the shoulders Scott Brandi, president of the Ski Areas of New York
The group represents more than just ski resorts, Brandi said.
“There’s helmet makers, insurance groups, ski manufacturers and other associated industries,” he said.
Brandi found his way into the group after a career as an insurance agent for nearly 40 ski resorts.
“I decided to slow down a bit and got on the board (of directors),” he said. “They needed new leadership and I got to be involved in a sport I’m passionate about.”
There are only two full-time employees, Brandi and the group’s administrator, Patrick Dunn.
Brandi works out of Glens Falls for the most part, which allows him to be closer to the state Legislature. Along with being the group’s president, he’s the lobbyist, marketer and driving force behind the group.
The skiing industry’s impact cannot be understated, Brandi said.
“We hired a firm to do a study, and they reported that it’s a $2.1 billion economic impact on upstate New York,” he said.
Despite all his hard work, each year the tourism industry in New York is asked to do more with less, Brandi said.
“The ‘I Love New York’ program’s budget was only $4 million last year,” he said. “Compare that to Pennsylvania’s budget, they spend about $30 million promoting their state.”
New York’s ski industry is unique because of the wide ownership group, Brandi said.
“It’s a small industry in the scope of things,” he said. “But there’s no conglomerates like in Colorado or Utah. They’re all independent entrepreneurs.”
On its website, the group offers promotions, a profile of each member resort and safety information. There’s also a daily ski report available online and on a podcast.
Peter Harris, owner of Song Mountain ski resort in Preble, praised the group and the work it does for the area’s ski centers.
“They do lobbying, they offer technical support,” he said. “They also do a bang-up job on their daily ski report,” he said.
Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and the Industrial Development Agency, worked for the group after college.
His job was to put together ski reports, but in a slightly different way than it is done today.
“I used to go in to work at 2 a.m. and do the radio reports,” he said. “We’d get reports from around the regions, put it together and then send it out to radio and television stations.”
Wes Kryger, general manager at Greek Peak, was the chairman of the board of directors for the last four years.
His father, Al Kryger, helped start the organization, he said.
“It’s a great organization, it represents all ski areas,” Kryger said.
The promotion of the state’s skiing industry by the group is key to the industry’s survival, Kryger said.
“It’s a large tourist attraction in upstate New York in the winter months,” he said of skiing. “For a lot of years, New York has let Vermont steal skiers. We have a large population of skiers and we shouldn’t export them, we should be trying to keep them.”
Besides lobbying and informing the public, the group runs several programs involving ski resorts across the state, such as the NY 4th Grade Ski & Ride Passport Program that is aimed at teaching young children how to ski or snowboard.
All four of the area’s ski resorts are a part of the program. Any fourth-grader receives a free lift ticket and lesson with the purchase of an adult lift ticket.
There’s also the Gold Pass, a winter sport enthusiast’s all-access ticket. The ticket provides one free lift ticket per day at any member ski resort in the state.
For people interested in learning how to ski or snowboard, Ski Areas of New York promotes a special beginner’s package. The coupon is good for a discount on any Learn to Ski package at a participating resort in January.
More information is available online at www.
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