Time for Navigator Awards

Ski Haus, Scott Ford to be recognized for customer service

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Good customer service is a description often associated with the Ski Haus sporting goods store; some say it's why the outdoor retailer has remained so successful over the decades.

Ski Haus owner Rod Schrage said loyal employees should receive the credit.

Regardless of who takes the credit, Ski Haus' standard of excellence when it comes to customer service is a large reason why the Steamboat Springs store will be awarded Wednesday with the 2003 Business of the Year Navigator Award.

The Navigator Awards, which are presented annually to a local business and businessperson by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and the Steamboat Pilot & Today, recognize businesses and individuals that raise the bar in terms of service, said Sandy Evans Hall, executive director of the chamber association.

Scott Ford is the 2003 Business Leader of the Year.

Evans Hall said customer loyalty, employee retention and customer service are some of Ski Haus' award-deserving characteristics. She also credited the businesses numerous customer programs, including its birthday discount program.

"They just have these employees who you know will serve you (well)," Evans Hall said. "We're always trying to find those businesses we can hold up there in terms of raising the bar and setting new standards."

"We're lucky we've had a lot of employees who've been around a long time," Schrage said. "It's helped us be consistent."

Last year Ski Haus moved into its present location, a large retail space on the corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road. Schrage said the new location was a huge step for the sporting goods store, but retaining the same qualities of the smaller store, such as strong service, was essential.

"Our goal is to stay the same," Schrage said.

As the 2003 Business of the Year, Ski Haus will receive several gifts from the chamber association and the Pilot & Today.

Scott Ford, the 2003 Business Leader of the Year, was named the recipient of a Navigator Award for his numerous contributions to businesses and the local economy, Evans Hall said.

Specifically, Ford is being recognized for his commitment and work with the economic gardening program, Small Business Development Center, community indicators project and consumer preference study, in addition to setting up a local chapter of Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE, Evans Hall said.

The Small Business Development Center, or SBDC, assists individuals considering starting their own business as well as existing businesses interested in achieving growth and profitability. It also serves as an information clearinghouse for small business resources by assisting in the collection, analysis and communication of community economic data, according to the SBDC Web site.

The SBDC, located on the Colorado Mountain College campus, offers free assistance to residents.

The SBDC has flourished under Ford's leadership, Evans Hall said.

"He's taken the SBDC far beyond what it was when he got there," she said.

Ford also teaches classes and spends considerable time working with the Careers program at Steamboat Springs High School.

Evans Hall said Ford will leave the community a legacy of economic tools.

Both Navigator Awards will be presented during Wednesday's 96th annual meeting and luncheon of the chamber association. The luncheon is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Chart House restaurant. The public is welcome, but reservations must first be made through the chamber association. The cost is $25 per person.

Rob Perlman, president and chief executive officer of Colorado Ski County, will give the keynote address at the luncheon. Perlman will discuss the state of the Colorado ski industry, addressing such issues as the effects of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Buddy Pass programs, Interstate 70 and others.


-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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