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Vail Resorts CEO Katz named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year

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July 5, 2016, 12:20 pm

Vail Resorts’ Chairman & CEO Rob Katz received the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 Award in the Transformational category, Mountain Desert Region.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award program, which recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.

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Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz (Dan Davis photo).

Katz was selected by an independent panel of judges and the award was presented at a special gala event at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex on June 23. The award follows Vail Resorts’ recognition by Fast Company magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in the world, announced earlier this spring.

“This recognition is really for the 26,000 employees that work at Vail Resorts. Our Company’s mission is Experience of a Lifetime and we try to provide that to each one of our guests by providing an Experience of a Lifetime to each one of our employees,” stated Katz. “The ski business has been around for a long time and we are proud of our history. But we also ask everyone at our Company to re-imagine every part of the mountain resort business, we want everyone to be an entrepreneur.”

Contributing factors leading to Katz and the company’s selection for this prestigious award include:

  • Katz invested $110-$115 Million across the company, including the most significant capital project in the industry, combining Park City and Canyons resorts in Park City, Utah, into the single largest resort in the U.S. In total, the Company has invested $515 million in enhancing the guest experience at its resorts in the past five years, the most in the industry. Over the past decade, Vail Resorts has invested more than $1 Billion across the company, which has brought upgrades to the ski/ride schools, on and off-mountain dining, lodging, chair lifts and more.
  • The creation by Katz of the Epic Pass, which launched in March 2008 at a price of $579 for unlimited, unrestricted skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Heavenly and today offers consumers as much skiing as they want at each of those original mountains and Northstar, Kirkwood, Park City, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Perisher in Australia for $809.
  • Katz launched Epic SchoolKids in Utah and Colorado, a free program for kindergarten through fifth graders that provides four days of skiing and riding at each of the state’s top-ranked resorts: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado and Park City in Utah.
  • Katz formed the EpicPromise Foundation to provide funds for employees in need of emergency financial relief and to pursue educational goals.
  • Katz pledged $30 Million to finding housing solutions for resort employees living in the mountains across the resorts and proactively set a Companywide minimum wage that is above federal and state requirements.
  • Katz launched EpicMix™ Time, which is the sixth version of EpicMix™. In August 2010, Vail Resorts unveiled EpicMix™, a first-of-its-kind online and mobile application that enables skiers and snowboarders to seamlessly capture their mountain experience using an RFID chip in their hard-card lift ticket or season pass and passive scanners at each lift. The Company found a way to incorporate cutting-edge technology in a passive way as to not disrupt the natural, peaceful experience of skiing and snowboarding on a mountain. There is EpicMix Photo™, EpicMix Racing™, EpicMix Academy™ and EpicMix Guide™. EpicMix™ Time uses crowd-sourced data on chairlift wait times to help guests find the most convenient access, disperse them around the mountain and provide them with more time for skiing and riding.
  • Katz launched Epic Discovery, an initiative to encourage “learning through play,” promoting environmental education and forest stewardship through fun, active experiences in concert with The Nature Conservancy. This initiative brought the future of innovation at Vail Resorts beyond looking solely at winter operations as its core business, but also summer activities. The first phase of Epic Discovery’s new activities and programming is expected to be fully operational for summer 2017. Epic Discovery is available at Vail, Breckenridge and Heavenly.

As a Mountain Desert region award winner, Katz is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016 national program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 19, 2016. The awards are the culminating event of the Strategic Growth ForumTM, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. The U.S. Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall Award winner then moves on to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Monaco, June 2017.

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