“It will definitely continue to be a family affair”
By Alissa Johnson
This month, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) president Ethan Mueller is packing up and moving east with his family. They’re relocating to New Hampshire, which is home to one of two other resorts owned and operated by the Mueller family, Mount Sunapee Resort. The Crested Butte News caught up with Mueller this week to talk about what the change means for CBMR, his role within the family business and his family.
Will your role change once you move to New Hampshire?
My role in the company isn’t really changing at all. I have had dual roles for a number of years now, that being president of CBMR and senior vice president of operations for all of our resort operations.
Running the resorts has always been such family affair. Will that continue to be the case, and does that mean that your sister Erica’s role is going to change?
It will definitely continue to be a family affair. Our company has always been family-owned and operated. It is something our whole family is very passionate about. Erica will definitely be staying in the valley, along with her husband, Gavin, and will work closely with all of our day-to-day operations and the community at large.
I definitely plan on being here quite a bit as well, probably about once a month, but if I need to be here more I will. When our family decided we were going to make this change we talked a lot about how this would affect things. Ultimately we decided it would have a positive effect on our company and the communities we work with. We wouldn’t be doing it otherwise, and you have our entire family’s commitment to that goal.
As a result of this transition, will the relationship between CBMR and the sister resorts and the priority that gets placed on each change?
That’s an easy one! The answer is no, it won’t change the relationship or priority with respect to the resorts we operate. CBMR is very important to us, as are our other properties. If we neglected any one part of our business it would hurt the whole. Additionally, as I mentioned before, the resort and the valley are poised more than ever to collaborate and support each other in moving forward. Our family very much wants to be in support of that, and will do whatever we can to help.
In public meetings, it has always seemed like you place an emphasis on community collaboration. Can you speak to that and your philosophy in running the resort?
Making sure your company works with the related community and gets involved is always important, perhaps even more so in our small valley, where all of our lives are so intertwined. We do put a lot of emphasis on this, and the community can expect that to continue through myself, Erica and others in our company.
This valley seems more in sync than I have ever seen it, and because of that we are starting to see improvements. Finding that common ground, developing trust, and working in unison is going to be the best way for this valley to do the things it wants to.
What do you see as the biggest changes at CBMR during your time at the helm?
I think the biggest changes at CBMR have been driven by our team here and the community. My role has been, and will continue to be, one that supports everyone involved. We have a great team at the resort, and they have accomplished so many amazing things in what has not always been an easy playing field.
Seeing the improvements and results they have accomplished coming off of being denied due process with Snodgrass and the worst economy our country has seen since the Great Depression is what makes me the most proud. A lot of people at the resort made that happen with a level of hard work and trust that is nothing shy of amazing in my eyes. I’m happy I am able to be a part of that.
What do you see as the most important strategies or directions for CBMR in coming years?
As mentioned above, I think it will be extremely important that we continue to work closely with the valley on developing trust and common goals. If this continues then everything else will fall into place, no matter what the issue is (affordable housing, air service, wages, open space, land management, etc.). None of us can solve these problems or reach these goals on our own, but together we can.
You’ve been raising your family here in addition to all you do at CBMR. Any reflections on what it has been like to live here/things you’ll miss?
When I moved here I was 26 years old with a small truckful of gear, and I was so excited to embark on everything this valley had to offer (working at a western resort, backcountry skiing, hunting, fishing, biking, etc.). This valley did not disappoint, and I have so many amazing memories because of it.
Now I’m moving away at 38 years old with a MUCH bigger truck (a.k.a., tractor trailer) full of gear, and a home that is largely defined by my wife, Katie, Anika (8), Tobin (6), Hazel (1), and our dog, Maylin.
Everything I’m leaving with was in part because of living here. I met Katie here, and we had all three of our kids here. This valley will always be a big part of our family’s life, and you can expect to see us all as much as we possibly can.
Looking back, it has all been amazing, but also quite the evolution. When I moved here I was focused on what I could do in this valley, but I’m leaving realizing that there is so much more to this special place. The friends, the culture, and spirit of this valley are truly unique.