From time to time I have conversations with young professionals in the hospitality industry (usually twenty-somethings). These days it’s not unusual for them to recount the six or eight different employers they’ve had in a similar number of years. Eventually they ask me how long I’ve been working at the Antlers. When I tell them it’s been thirty-one years they immediately form an “L” with their thumb and forefinger, plaster it to their forehead and proclaim loudly for all to hear, “What a Loser!”
After working at the Antlers since 1978, and the last twenty-two years as General Manager, even people who respect longevity often ask me, “Don’t you ever get bored?” My answer is always the same … The hospitality business is NEVER boring. The old cliché that “every day is different” could not be more true. However, I also have the fabulous good fortune to work for a very unique Homeowners Association. Unlike most HOA’s who operate almost entirely out of self-interest, the Antlers owners have always had a much more worldly view.
With a long history of good corporate citizenship, the Antlers HOA generously supports a plethora of local causes and non-profit organizations. Sometimes that’s a donation of cash or more frequently complimentary rooms as in-kind support. That good will alone makes this an incredibly rewarding place to hang my hat. Beyond that though, the condominium owners here not only give me the freedom to pursue outside interests, but encourage me to do so. While that generally serves the Antlers well in the long run, it takes people with real vision to recognize and understand it.
The local Chambers of Commerce, Bravo Music Festival, the Vail Symposium and others have all benefited (I’d like to think) from the Antlers willingness to participate in a somewhat modified form of executive loan. Needless to say, none of that would be possible if it weren’t for Chris Ratzlaff and the rest of our wonderful staff, picking up the slack. Ultimately the time and monetary commitment from the Antlers is significant. Of course it also provides for a serious amount of growth and reward for me personally.
Which brings us to this past Tuesday, when I had the honor of being named chair-elect for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. CACI serves as the state chamber of commerce (www.cochamber.com). I’ve enjoyed being on that board for a number of years and on the executive committee for the past couple. I was surprised when they asked me if I’d serve as chair in 2011, since the majority of the board members represent large companies like Lockheed Martin, MillerCoors, Qwest, Wells Fargo, etc. I often feel like the country mouse in that arena, with my 40 employees and $5,000,000 in sales. Nevertheless, I guess the collective wisdom was that someone in tourism from the Western Slope, who truly represents small business, would be a healthy departure from the norm. I hope they’re right.
One way or the other, this … a boring job? You’ve GOT to be kidding.