New YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch general manager looks to build on nonprofit’s mission

A horse barn on the YMCA of the Rockies - Snow Mountain Ranch property in Granby represents one of many sights to see on the 5,000-plus acre ranch.
Billy Van Hauen/Courtesy photo

Joshua Huggett, the new general manager at the YMCA of the Rockies in Granby, started at Snow Mountain Ranch at the end of May. The former Disneyland operations manager said his first few months have been busy, but he would not have it any other way.

Hugget’s resume includes over two years in his Disney position and a year as a district manager for Tesla, but despite his corporate clout, he said the YMCA’s mission and values attracted him to the position.

“They focus on taking care of others and supporting other missions,” Huggett said. “That altruistic vantage, instead of purely profit driven, that’s what drove me.”

The Florida native studied hospitality management in college, along with culinary arts focusing in French pastries, something he said he has not used in his career but his wife appreciates. Huggett and his wife lived in California before moving to Colorado to start a family. The couple took seven months off of work to visit several states and find their next home, eventually landing in Greeley, Colorado.

Huggett had left Tesla before starting the search for a new home, and once settled in Greeley, he started looking for jobs that fit his goal of doing good.

“Where can I build a team and invest in people, really drive a strong, thriving business that cares about people?” Huggett said. “I found the YMCA and fell in love with it from day one.”

Snow Mountain Ranch’s 5,000-plus acres shocked Huggett when he first found the job on LinkedIn, and again when he saw it in person. He thought of the YMCA as a gym, not a property with lodging, restaurants, tubing hills, horseback riding and more.

“I did all the research in the world,” Huggett said. “I got here and it is a different animal. It’s beautiful, and it’s just a magical place. It’s funny, when I told my family, I said, ‘Hey, you know, I’m probably going to be working at the YMCA,’ they said, ‘Oh good, a gym.’”

Now living in Granby, Huggett referenced taking care of people — including his guests and employees — as one of his top priorities. He also mentioned wanting to create a stronger connection between the YMCA and the Granby community and making sure the YMCA is open to anyone who “needs respite and love and to just get away.”

“To be able to steward that is phenomenal to me,” Huggett said. “That gets me up in the morning instead of a cup of coffee.”

Similar to other businesses in Grand County, one of the YMCA’s biggest challenges during Huggett’s tenure so far has been staffing. Huggett said he wants to attract more locals to work at the ranch, but also plans to construct additional employee housing on-site to increase staffing.

“We’re offering housing at pretty reasonable rates compared to what it is in the community,” Huggett said. “We get to take care of our staff on another level now. Now, not only is it work, it’s home. It is truly a burden on us in the best way.”

In October, Snow Mountain Ranch will shut down for a week. Huggett said the occupancy reaches its lowest point around that time, and he wants to give his staff the chance to take time off. He said employees who want to keep working can do so, and he will be one of them.

In January, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and animal advocacy groups seized 144 horses and euthanized one on Snow Mountain Ranch’s property after an investigation into animal cruelty at the stables run by a third-party company, Snow Mountain Stables. 

The stables were not operated by the YMCA, and the ranch has since hired a new concessionaire. Stockade, a company from Fort Worth, Texas, now operates the stables with all new horses. 

Huggett said he can ensure what happened with Snow Mountain Stables will never happen again. He said he and Programs Director Mary Ann Degginger work with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, which operates a therapeutic horseback riding program separate from the main stables on the property, to monitor the condition of the horses.

“When I say that Snow Mountain Ranch is (safe), it’s not only for our staff and our guests, but it’s for all of our animals and anyone else that steps foot on the property,” Huggett said. “I will not waver in that. It is our reputation, it is the responsible thing to do, it is the right thing to do.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the name of the third-party company that formerly operated the horse stables at Snow Mountain Ranch.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.