Winter Park employment seemingly on track
November 8, 2016
Have you heard there was a housing shortage in mountain communities, including Grand County?
It should be no surprise that the lack of attainable housing is directly affecting the labor availability for some local businesses, but many have figured out ways to keep employees coming back year after year.
Winter Park Trading Company
Pete Mintle of Winter Park Trading Company, a consignment gear store, said most of his employees have been with him for several years. Mintle has four full-time employees and usually around three part-timers. Mintle said it is difficult to hire new help because many employees are planning on a seasonal job. A lot of people like to leave for a few weeks in between seasons, and return to work when the resorts re-open. Seasonal jobs are great for some businesses that either close down or cut hours in the off-seasons, but for businesses that maintain normal or close-to-normal hours, this can be a challenge if employees have a seasonal mentality.
Epic Mountain Sports
Katherine Mowrey has a similar situation at Epic Mountain Sports in Winter Park. Mowrey said she has currently about 99 percent of her staff in place and she attributes this to returning employees as well. She said her employees tend to like working at the shop, and since they are returning help, they usually have housing already lined up. Epic Mountain Sports provides their full-time employees with a ski pass, which can be a huge incentive for people to apply for a job. Mowrey said they have had few responses for help-wanted ads, however, and this is probably due to the lack of attainable housing in the area. She said their quality of employees has been good due to the low turnover rate. The employees at Epic Mountain Sports tend to be very versatile, she said, as they must be ski rental technicians and retail staff. Most of her part-time help comes in at night to work in the ski-tune shop.
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Jason Driver of Sharpshooters Images contracts with Winter Park Resort to sell photos of people skiing down certain trails. He said he struggles to fully staff his photographers, often due to housing complications. Driver said that one problem he has faced is potential employees that apply, but cannot find housing and end up moving on to another ski town to start the search over again. Driver usually seeks to hire around 10 full-time employees.
Winter Park Resort
Despite the housing shortage, Winter Park Resort seems to be on track with their hiring process. Paula Labian, Winter Park Resort Vice President of Human Resources, said the hiring process is going surprisingly well, considering the lack of housing. Labian said they are having a strong recruiting season, though housing is always a concern. Recently, Winter Park Resort was able to secure 32 additional beds for employee housing at a local bed and breakfast. The total for employees housing beds is 265 throughout Grand County. Labian said they have hired about 1,000 employees thus far, and are seeking 400-500 more for the quickly approaching season. She said the resort has an employee return rate of about 55-60 percent. The return rate is mostly in the specific departments: ski and ride school, food and beverage, and lift operations. Labian said that when the resort opens, they will be at 100 percent of what their employment plan was for early season. She said most of the resort's employees would be in Grand County by the second week of December.
Labian said Winter Park Resort is continuing to search for additional employee housing from private owners throughout the county. There is some additional attainable housing on the way in Winter Park, but that will not be finished for this ski season.
"The demand is now; the supply is coming," Labian said.
The employee housing for resort staff currently consists of all shared rooms. Labian said that is the only way to keep the affordability reasonable on a wage that is usually $10-13 an hour.