Rob Perlman returns to Winter Park Resort as VP of marketing
July 30, 2009
Rob Perlman knew what he wanted out of life when he was in high school. He wanted to ski and he wanted to work in the ski industry. “I thought that being the marketing director at a ski area was the ultimate job,” he said. “Lo and behold.”Perlman moved to Winter Park – or more accurately “returned” to Winter Park – this month as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Winter Park Resort. In so many ways, it is a homecoming. He skied here with the Winter Park Ski Club as a teenager growing up in Evergreen. He graduated from high school a semester early and immediately moved to Winter Park. For years, he cooked at The Shed and got as many days as he could on the mountain. He majored in marketing at the University of Arizona in Tucson, but only attended during the summer and fall semesters. He spent every winter here – cooking and skiing.After college, he found his place in the ski industry as a seasonal snow reporter and info booth attendant for Mammoth Mountain in California. “I gave people change and told people where the bathrooms are,” Perlman said. “In the afternoon, I would ski with Dave McCoy (owner of Mammoth). “(Dave) was a mentor for me. He was a hero of mine. He taught me to take care of your people and staff. It’s about the customer, but it’s also about your employees.”That job in the information booth was the first step in a lifelong career in the ski industry. When a position opened in the public relations department at Winter Park Resort, he jumped at the chance for a full-time job. He was 22. Over the years, Perlman’s resume tells the story of the ski industry over the past two decades.He worked in Vail as its communications director during its merger with Keystone and Breckenridge.He moved back to Mammoth during a time when Intrawest was investing in the resort. “(At Mammoth) we focused on snowboarding when nobody was building terrain parks, which we did,” he said. “We changed the culture of the resort to embrace the snowboarding roots of Southern California. We were the No. 1 destination for snowboarding in, arguably, the world.”He returned to Colorado in 2002 to be the President and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA in Denver. He was 32, the young CEO in the group’s history. “Skiing is a small industry,” Perlman said. “We have a saying that we continue to eat at the same dinner table. We just change seats.”During his six years at Colorado Ski Country, he focused on bringing skiers back to the state.”Colorado had lost share from destination skiers,” he said. “Beginning in the late ’90s, people were going to other states. Utah, Tahoe and Mammoth were picking the pocket of Colorado.”By the time he left, Colorado was back on top. When he started, the state spent $3 million a year on tourism, but “not to promote winter.”When he left, the state was budgeting $19 million for tourism and $4 million of that to promote winter, Perlman said. And the state recorded three consecutive years of more than 12 million skier days.”That hadn’t been done before. Ever,” he said.He still skied 40 days year as a weekend warrior, suffering through I-70 congestion with everyone else. But his goal was always to get back to the mountains, he said. When he got a call from Chris Diamond, President and CEO of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., he jumped at the chance to head up Steamboat’s sales and marketing department. He was in Steamboat exactly a year when Diamond announced a staff shuffle that would former VP of Sales, Andy Wirth, back to Steamboat in Perlman’s role and move Perlman to Winter Park as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing.At the time, Diamond told the Steamboat Pilot & Today that the staff changes were an example of a broader shift in Intrawest’s marketing organization, headquartered in Vancouver, B.C.”One of the goals is to become more de-centralized,” Diamond said. “We’ve been moving in this direction for well over a year.”Wirth credited Perlman with doing a “phenomenal” job marketing Steamboat in a recessionary economy that brought what Wirth called “the single most challenging season I can recall.”Perlman said the move came as “a little bit of a surprise. But they understand my passion for the industry and my knowledge of Winter Park.”In some ways, there’s more opportunity here than at any other resort with the development of the Village (at the base of the resort).”Winter Park lagged behind others in the cycle of improvements, but its brand as Colorado’s Favorite is strong.”It’s been 15 years since Perlman last lived in Winter Park. “Both Winter Park and I have changed,” Perlman said. “I have a family now – a wife and two little girls, 7 and 9.”And Winter Park is changing with the resort starting to invest, putting over $40 million in over the past five or so years.”There’s an energy and excitement at the base that frankly wasn’t here when I lived her before. People would just ski and hang out in the dirt parking lot.”But 15 years later, some things haven’t changed. Perlman still likes to ski as many days a year as possible and Winter Park is still home to many people he knew in his youth. “I still have friends here,” he said. “And many of the characters who were here (15 years ago) are still here.”That’s the thing that makes Winter Park special. Not only are the guests passionate about it, but the people who live and work here are passionate about calling the Fraser Valley home.”- To reach Autumn Phillips call 887-3334 ext. 19600 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.