Sunday, July 12, 2020

It’s Labor Day… A weekend to honor life’s job journey

If you’ve spent much time in the labor force there is a good chance that like me, you’ve been hired, you’ve been fired, you’ve quit jobs and you’ve changed jobs. It’s part of life’s work journey. And from everything I’ve been told, it makes life sense to keep working even when you have the chance to retire. Just sayin’.

Anyway, in honor of Labor Day and work, let’s touch on some local job situations. Dara MacDonald is about to embark on an interesting Crested Butte job journey as the new town manager. She has the experience and what appears to be the demeanor to sit in the hot seat. And that seat can be really hot.

While it is apparently against the law to tell me who from Crested Butte applied for the job, no Crested Butte locals made the final cut. The most likely local candidate to be offered the job, RTA executive director Scott Truex, applied for the position, evaluated his life options and withdrew from the running. He is my friend and I think he would have been really good. A few other locals that I felt had the chops to do the job did not put in an application. I have always contended that an engaged local would have a foot up for that position since he or she would know and understand some of the unique Crested Butte quirkiness that is evident every day in that job.

I do not know if the other applicants with Crested Butte ties had the experience to take those reins. The council obviously felt they did not. I know they too had hoped a current local would rise to the top. But from what I hear, they are very confident that Dara will be an excellent fit in that job in this town. They feel she can work well with the staff, the council and the public. Part of having her be a good fit is to give her the tools to be a success.

I have said it before and will again suggest that the town take some of the seven figure savings account that the town has and spend it on expanding the staff. Those in town hall are hard workers and really smart but the amount and pace of issues coming to Crested Butte would seem to warrant some additional personnel to help deal with the issues. That’s just one potential tool but an important one. There is a lot of stuff coming down the road pretty quickly and hopefully Dara has gathered the skills on her work journey to deal with a lot of things at the same time. My gut tells me she has the abilities to fulfill those high expectations and understand the weirdness of this place. Good luck to her.

Labor Day is an opportunity to take note of a pretty big jobs turnover up at the ski area. Several managers at Crested Butte Mountain Resort have left in recent weeks and months and gone on to their next section of the job journey. Managers in sales, marketing, administration, ticket sales and development have all moved on. Many have taken positions at other resorts. Others have left to be closer to family. CBMR vice president and general manager Michael Kraatz explained that while it definitely seems like a lot at once, such turnover is part of the ski resort business in general and it provides opportunity for others in the company to move up.

“Most of the change we have seen is a direct result of an opening up of the job market, and in many areas career advancement opportunities now exist that have not been available since the recession started back in 2008. And of course there are some people who have made choices to leave the area or just do some different type of work,” Kraatz explained. “There is no one reason why a change happens and it is cyclical. Like any large business we expect to see a certain amount of turnover each year, and with that turnover, career advancement opportunities for others open up. We are happy to see that qualified people within the company are moving into most of the positions that have become available and are advancing in their careers, and I think this speaks to the caliber of employee we have and the depth we continually try to build within each department.”

While the resort business is by nature pretty transient, hopefully this blip up there results in more opportunity and steps forward and fewer glitches from transitions as we head into the ski season. Keeping good people is not always easy but hopefully all local employers, not just the big ones, know that when they have good people it is important to treat them well.

And finally a nod of thanks for the job that Crested Butte’s interim town manager Bill Crank did the last several months. Coming back to work in the office that towers over the plaza and plaque that bears his name, Crank stepped in and provided solid guidance for a town in transition. And I think the amount of transition surprised even him at times. His direct, frank and fair manner reinforced the good qualities of a good town manger in a good but quickly changing community.

The town manager in any community is a lightning rod and as politics and tenor in a community change, the town manager oftentimes takes the brunt of the tension and frustration that accompanies such change. That eventually makes for a turnover situation.

But Crank again showed the town what it takes to be a success in that tough job. Part of the success comes from speaking honestly and treating everyone with respect, whether it is a member of the staff, a member of the public or one of the seven bosses on the Town Council. Part of that means getting out and talking to the people to make sure nothing is straying too far out of line. Part of that is following through with what the council wants and doing what he says he is going to do. Part of that is simply showing up.

Crank did all those things when he was here for 19 years and he did it again when he was here for five months. So thanks again for helping to guide this town through example, knowledge and wisdom gained through experience.

Hopefully Bill too gained some more insight on this latest part of his work journey that doesn’t necessarily need to be over.

It is Labor Day, a day to honor workers, a day to honor work, a day to honor getting a job, getting fired, quitting, and exploring new work opportunities on life’s hopefully interesting job journey. We see all that and more in this community every day. Embrace it this Labor Day Weekend.

—Mark Reaman

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