Steamboat Springs Intrawest announced staff changes Friday that will bring former Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. marketing executive Andy Wirth back to Gondola Square and move his one-time replacement, Rob Perlman, to Winter Park.
Wirth and Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said Intrawest has eliminated Wirth's current position, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales and marketing, effective June 1. Intrawest is Ski Corp.'s parent company. The staff shuffle comes about a week after Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen told the Summit Daily News that "in this global economic challenge : we have to take every step to survive. We're looking at all the options to reduce our debt."
Intrawest refinanced $1.7 billion in debt on the day of a repayment deadline in October. On Wednesday, the Walton Sun newspaper in Florida reported that a Florida developer is negotiating with Intrawest to purchase the company's Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in that state.
Company spokesman Ian Galbraith could not be reached Friday afternoon.
Jensen said in a Friday news release that "Steamboat and Winter Park are two of our core resort properties, and they remain a central focus for Intrawest's long-term success."
Diamond said the staff changes are an example of a broader shift in Intrawest's marketing organization, headquartered in Vancouver, B.C.
"One of the goals is to become more de-centralized," Diamond said. "We've been moving in this direction for well over a year. : (De-centralizing) has been Bill (Jensen's) marching orders since he stepped in about a year ago."
Jensen took the Intrawest helm in July 2008.
Wirth accepted his Intrawest role in July 2007 and shifted to offices in Vancouver, B.C., in spring 2008, when Ski Corp. hired Perlman to fill Wirth's role in Steamboat.
Wirth previously worked for 23 years in various marketing positions for Steamboat, including the vice president of sales and marketing role to which he now will return, in a senior level that includes continued enterprise-wide management duties for Intrawest.
Wirth said Friday that he is "personally and professionally thrilled" to return to the Yampa Valley.
Wirth credited Perlman with doing a "phenomenal" job marketing Steamboat in a recessionary economy that brought what Wirth called "the single most challenging season I can recall."
Diamond said Friday that he does not "see things changing a lot next year in terms of demand for the (ski industry) product."
Wirth said his marketing focus will be on retaining skiers and snowboarders who have made a habit of visiting Steamboat but now are facing a "tectonic shift in how people buy things," spurred by the down economy.
"Retention is what it's about," Wirth said. "We have our work cut out for us not just in Steamboat, but in the industry. We need to keep the ski vacation on the calendar."