From Business Idea to Ski Butlers: Q and A with Bryn Carey
Calling Bryn Carey a skier is an understatement. Calling him a passionate promoter of the sport and everything connected to it starts to explain him more accurately. Born and bred on the slopes, Carey honed his technique in Maine, attending the ski race oriented Carrabassett Valley Academy, followed by the Winter School in Park City, Utah. Here, Carey shares his story of creating Ski Butlers—one chairlift ride at a time.
Q: What was your childhood like? Were you from a diehard, bell-to-bell skiing family?
A: I grew up in Kingfield, Maine, 20 minutes from Sugarloaf. My dad worked at the resort and I spent every weekend there, skiing opening lift to closing lift. When I was in high school, my dad got a job at The Canyons so we moved to Park City, UT. I purchased a business in Park City called Park City Seal Coat. It was hot, hard work, but it taught me all kinds of things about running a small business. It was my playground for learning. However, I knew that the asphalt business was not something for the long run. I always wanted to work at something that included my passion of skiing.
Q: You were captain of the University of New Hampshire’s NCAA Division I ski team. You now work with some folks you ski raced with. What can you learn about someone from being a teammate?
A: As captain, I learned how to lead people, especially folks that are competitive, high achievers and love to follow their passions. Additionally, racing in college creates a common bond around team work, so it was natural to take what I learned on the UNH Ski Team and incorporate that into Ski Butlers.
Q: Ski Butlers is available at dozens of resorts. What resort did you start at and how did you grow?
A: Park City was our number one location. After the first season at Ski Butlers, we saw that it was a success and went to Vail and Breckenridge. Then we went to Aspen the following year, then Tahoe and Whistler. The goal was to get into the top 10 western ski resorts as fast as possible.
Q: Your aim is to work with and help local communities. How do you do that?
A: Core Value #7 is to Make a Difference in the Community. Each team member is required to volunteer once a month to recieve their bonuses. We help at local events, other non-profits, recycling centers and more. On a companywide level we have a big focus on Climate Change and have committed to going 100% Clean Energy by 2020 and have all our vehicles be EV by 2025. In addition, we always try and hire local people first to run each of the locations and give them the tools and reservation system to make it happen. We look for a business space or a warehouse near each resort. We use a minimum of two vans all the way up to 20 vans, depending on the location. We build up the shop with tuning equipment, staging, racks for skis and boots and employ between 2 to 50 people.
Q: With travel hassles and airline restrictions plaguing skiers, do you think the timing is ripe for a ski rental delivery service?
A: More and more people are renting skis in North America and the airlines industry is certainly one reason. Here are some other reasons: Ski technology is advancing so rapidly that models get out of date quickly, and Rossignol, the company we work with, has the best technology for every type of skier. Also, folks travelling from one area might not own the perfect ski for another part of the country. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, renting skis can be a huge hassle. Why haul your own equipment when Ski Butlers can provide it for you—conveniently dropping gear off and picking it up at your own accommodations?
Q: Ski Butlers is lauded for its customer service. How do you accomplish that?
A: Core Value #1 is to Deliver Legendary Service. It is our goal to “WOW" each and every customer. It starts with the first day of training and is talked about, lived, and executed every day moving forward. One thing we implemented was a program where we could track the customer service and reward it. All our ski techs are incentivized to go the extra mile by answering questions, helping out, and if something doesn’t go right, do whatever needs to be done to solve the problem. That’s why we keep growing because we have great repeat business a good reputation.