John Kircher Acquires Crystal Mountain
Washington’s Crystal Mountain Ski Resort has been acquired in its entirety by John Kircher in a transaction between Kircher and Boyne Resorts, Inc. The sale comes 20 years to the day after Boyne purchased Crystal Mountain from a group of 850 shareholders, many of whom were original shareholders when the ski area was founded in 1962.
John Kircher is a second generation ski resort operator who began his 37 years and counting career at Boyne Mountain in Michigan and as General Manager of Big Sky Resort in Montana in 1980. Kircher oversaw the acquisition of Crystal Mountain in 1997 and became President and CEO of Crystal at that time and has been there ever since.
He was responsible for the Boyne Resorts acquisitions of Brighton, UT and Cypress Mountain in Vancouver B.C. and oversaw general operations for these ski areas including the operations for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games where Cypress was the venue for 6 events.
“In the past two weeks the biggest changes ever to take place in the ski industry have happened. Over a two day span the first week of March, no less than 28 ski resorts changed ownership, the most interesting being the Aspen/KSL groups’ acquisition of Intrawest Resorts plus their acquiring Mammoth Resorts. The other being the March 31st sale of CNL Resorts, which includes the local ski areas Stevens Pass and Summit at Snoqualmie to a private equity partnership in New York.” Kircher says.
“The fact that Crystal Mountain is now a locally owned and owner-managed ski operation runs totally counter to the corporatizing trends in the ski business. The number of large resorts that are locally owned and managed can be counted on maybe one hand. It’s a small fraction of the business. Crystal has done very well over time and now we are free to re-invest our dollars with complete concentration here to make Crystal Mountain the best ski and summer resort in the Northwest.”
John Kircher will be investing $5 million dollars this summer in capitol improvements. He will begin by installing the most state-of-the-art snowmaking system of its kind including thirty new SMI Super Puma snow guns. These snow guns will cover the mid-to-lower mountain areas and will translate to a more reliable Thanksgiving opening and also protects the resort and season pass buyers in low snow years. “Crystal will go into the 2017/18 season with snowmaking capabilities on the mountain unmatched anywhere else in the region.” He said.
Crystal also plans to extend hours on peak weekends and holidays next winter and will be adding new lights on Quicksilver. This will allow families to arrive a little later and still get a full day of skiing or snowboarding in.
Additional gondola cabins were recently purchased and are expected to arrive in October. The new cabins will increase the capacity by 22% and bring the total number of cabins to 28 out of a total capacity of 36.
Crystal Mountain’s value is estimated at $40 million. John Kircher has some big plans for the resort. He is planning to make some significant improvements for families and beginners in 2018 including a new covered carpet and a rebuild of the Discovery and Gold Hills lifts which will give the resort the most modern lift infrastructure in the Northwest. Kircher is also looking at summer improvements such as mountain biking and improved access to the Campbell Basin area.
The resort opened on November 25, 2016, and has been open daily which makes for a total of 150 days this season. The lifts have opened early or on-time for 145 consecutive days as of today. Crystal has received 431 inches of snow this season.
Crystal wraps up the 2016/17 ski season on Sunday, April 23rd, and is selling passes now for next season. Passes are available at the lowest price until May 31st.