Ford, Schrage win awards

Chamber, Pilot present Navigator Award to top business people

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Scott Ford and Rod Schrage were called out in front of their peers Wednesday and presented with the top awards business people can receive in Steamboat Springs.

Schrage and Ford received Navigator awards presented by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association during the chamber's 96th annual meeting.

Schrage, owner of Ski Haus sporting goods store, accepted the Business of the Year award. Ford was named Businessperson of the Year for his work heading the Economic Development Council and running the Small Business Development Center on the Alpine Campus of Colorado Mountain College.

Steamboat Pilot & Today editor Scott Stanford pointed out that almost everyone in town celebrates their birthdays at Ski Haus, whether they ski or not.

"Few Steamboat Springs residents have allowed a birthday to pass without taking advantage of the well-known birthday discount at Ski Haus," Stanford said. "This wildly popular marketing strategy serves as an example of how Rod Schrage has built one of the city's most successful retail stores."

Stanford said Schrage's efforts to build a customer base have included publishing his own bi-annual magazine and awarding wooden nickels called "Ski Haus Bucks" at the gas pumps across the street from his ski shop. The tokens are redeemable at his liquor, convenience and sporting goods stores.

"Ski Haus is a smart business that leads by example, a willing community partner and a deserving recipient of the 2003 Navigator Award for Business of the Year," Stanford said.

Schrage started Ski Haus in 1969. He and his staff moved into a new 10,500-square-foot building at U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road last year.

"I've never received an award in all these years," Schrage said. "Getting an award from all of you is the best. It's all about Steamboat."

Schrage received an advertising package worth more than $2,000 and a newspaper subscription from the Pilot & Today and $200 in chamber bucks from the Chamber Resort Association.

Ford came to Steamboat in 1963 on a fishing trip with his father at age 9. After a successful career in the insurance industry, he returned and took a job in the chamber's information center. Chamber Executive Director Sandy Evans Hall said Ford unabashedly describes himself as a "geek with personality." But his passion for statistical analysis has resulted in the chamber's long-standing lodging barometer and the exhaustive consumer preference survey published last spring.

Ford has encouraged and advised many fledgling business operators and entrepreneurs but always urged them to confront the realities of running a small business.

"This award is really a recognition of the support of the people I have had the good fortune to work with and call friends," Ford said. "Steamboat is the best small town in America to live in, to work in and play in, and it's only getting better."

Ford received $200 in chamber bucks from the chamber and a framed fly-fishing print and newspaper subscription from the Pilot & Today.

Outgoing chamber board President Ulrich Salzgeber said his thank-yous and handed his gavel over to Treasurer Kathy Stokes on behalf of new chamber board President John Centner.

Editor's note: Coverage of the ski season forecast given Wednesday by Rob Perlman president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond will publish in the Sunday Pilot & Today.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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