Thursday, December 31, 2009

A retrospective look at our last 10 years

I woke up this morning and realized that today was the last day of 2009...but not only that, it would be the last day in the first decade of the "millennium". It's hard to believe that we will reach the year 2010 at 12am...I vividly remember this day back in 1999, sitting and wondering if the "Y2K Bug" would bring the world to a screeching halt like some believed, how far we have come.

How far have we come? Well, as I searched through my collection of photographs for this blog entry this afternoon, I began to realize just how much we have grown and changed here at...Brimacombe, over the past 10 years.

It would take hours and hours to write a thorough guide to this past decade in our history so I will walk you through some of the most notable changes and improvements we have made.

Where do I begin?


Our collection of lifts have undergone a tremendous amount of work these past ten years, not only did we change their colours from industrial Blue and Orange to a more visually pleasing Satin Black to help create a cleaner looking atmosphere, we made a number of major alterations and improvements from new "chairs" on our Bowl and Standard Quad chairlifts to the addition of our "Magic Carpet" conveyor lift on the Bambi run.

Blue towers on the horizon

The bowl load station in "blue"...some time, some summer. (no cows were loaded)

The Bowl T-bars in their original colour...

New Satin Black paint, the colour stands out against the snow but looks nice and clean against our evergreens and natural surroundings...a little less industrial looking.

"Load testing" the lift after installing new chairs on the Standard quad. Chairs were loaded with a pre-determined weight to test the operation of the lift under load before final approval was granted to run the lift for passenger use.

The old "Handle Tow"...the only digital picture I could find of it....Livestock?

Bringing the carpet components in to begin assembly

"Eyeballing" up the pieces while assembling the Magic Carpet...

This picture always makes me think "Abbey Road"...but this was the first passenger traffic on the conveyor lift...some very happy employees excited to see the lifts completion.

The official Grand Opening of our Magic Carpet...with MUCH thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for the generous grant money that made this new lift a reality.

Snow making

We have made a few notable upgrades to our snow making system this past decade as well. We completed a major expansion of our snow making water reservoir (pond), added a number of more efficient guns to our fleet and installed a "Snowmax" injection system that has boosted our efficiency, production and snow quality.

Starting to scratch the surface for the pond expansion.

More volume means extended snow making run time (when the weather is good for extended periods), without the benefit of a major natural body of water like the majority of "Collingwood" clubs have, we create what we need to get the job done.

The infamous "Snowmax" injection unit. This unit injects a natural protein into the water to enhance production and increase efficiency. Without getting technical, it makes more, dryer snow at low temperatures, and helps us bridge the mild -3 days by enabling us to make snow at slightly higher temperatures.

A shot of some of the newer, more efficient air/water guns we purchased a few years back.


Three seasons ago we introduced a new snow grooming machine to help us push the white gold around....our existing fleet was aging and seeing a lot of shop time.

Our new Prinoth BISON arriving on the trailer.

"Cutting it's teeth" the first night on the job.

Last season we added a new plow/sander truck to the fleet to keep up with our growing parking lots and roadways.

As with any similar business with equipment like ours, maintenance and upkeep is a full time job. Our machines have been tore down, rebuilt and reworked to keep up with the demands of our facility, no bolt was left unturned this past decade...but preventative maintenance is key.

Member and guest experience was probably our number one point of focus through the past ten years. It was driving force behind the MANY major improvements you didn't see...and the changes in our infrastructure you did see.

Buildings and renos

In the last picture you may have noticed our Parking lot #2 Lift ticket kiosk. This kiosk was intended to resolve a long time risk management problem...a huge parking lot at the top of our hill, and nowhere to buy the lift tickets required to use our facility. Not only did it resolve this need, it exceeded our expectations immensely! This ticket kiosk has become a popular place to buy lift tickets, reducing the line ups at our other base level ticket sale locations and improving guest relations.

On the same note, we relocated our east base lift ticket sales kiosk to a more accessible, highly visible location attached to our Proshop and rental building.

There were many more subtle changes to our buildings made this past decade, from kitchen and entrance renovations,

to refreshing our West Chalet with historic decor and carpeting in the basement.

Terrain Park

I could stay here all night writing about the improvements to the terrain park. I remember a time when jumping would get your pass pulled in a heart beat, my how times have changed! As terrain parks have grown into popularity, they have morphed and evolved into a very important part of our business. From a small area on the "Snow bowl" the disappearance of the "Snow Bowl" all together our park has come leaps and bounds into a position of one of the best in Ontario! Our parks contain a huge number of diverse features and a solid risk management system in place to provide our patrons with a quality experience no matter what their skill level. Did I mention we went from one park to TWO?

Sliding a box during a "Saturday Night Rail Jam" event

A competitor showing their skills to the crowd on our Flat Down Flat box

A magazine article showing some of our "recycled" jibs (SAM Magazine)

A fun day in the park


Though we have always had a number of events over the years, this past decade has seen the introduction of a few new popular types.

From terrain park competitions to Apres Ski Parties

The "Puddle Jump" probably takes the cake

As our "club" grew, so did our need to look outside the box for sources of revenue. These were probably the hardest choices to make but they had the greatest financial return...these new sources of revenue have without a doubt allowed us to continue to operate and have kept our membership and lift ticket rates affordable (reducing cost increases). Long gone are the days when we could afford to operate our club by relying solely on the dollars generated by our lift passes. This past decade we very successfully integrated the Pro Shop and Rental business, Snow School, and Food Services. We sincerely appreciate your past and continued support of our "in house" businesses...remember, all dollars spent here...STAY HERE!

This list of changes is no where near complete....but I can't sign off until I write about what will probably be the most notable change this past decade as well as in our clubs history.

Our Rebranding

Our rebranding is not about erasing our club's long's about embracing it. Rebranding is often met with opposition, and we were not niave to this. Changing our facility name was not done on a whim, but instead was a well thought out, researched, strategic move to increase our marketablity and position ourselves for the long road ahead. We have been very pleased with the tremendous support we have received from our members and guests, and know we have decided upon a name that will represent the rich history, and quality experience we work hard to provide you with here at BRIMACOMBE!

As I wrote above, this list is no where near complete, we have come a long way. This past 10 year journey is the result of no one person in particular, it is the result of your support for your club, the many many hours of volunteer time dedicated by members of the Board of Directors and clubs within ours (Brimacombe Racing, CSPS, CADS etc.) and the hard work and dedication of our staff. I look forward to the next ten years and beyond.

Thank-you for being a part of our history, Happy New Year.