Taos Ski Valley local focus a boon to area businesses

TSV partnerships new and old benefit local economy year-round

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Put the words "job" and "ski valley" in the same sentence and the image of a beloved ski bum - someone with long hair and seasonal employment - comes to mind.

While there's plenty of truth to that, the economic engine of Taos Ski Valley extends well beyond the mountain during the too-short length of the ski season.

The ski valley has grown past its roots as a family-owned operation; billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon bought the ski valley in 2013.

And through that transition, coupled with extensive renovations to the ski area and amenities in the mountain resort, Taos Ski Valley is still making a big impact for businesses in Taos County - both those with longstanding relationships and others that are just getting going like a nascent skier.

Oban Lambie, owner of Brownrice Internet in Taos, said his company has "always had a good relationship with TSV." It's one that started years ago when he met his wife; they were both ski instructors.

These days, Brownrice Internet hosts internal websites for the corporation and provides the technical back-end for all the live webcams of the mountain.

Beyond routine web management, the small tech company also got in on part of the renovations and improvements in recent years.

"We installed all this cool weather monitoring equipment throughout the mountain, which lets patrollers collect that data for better decisions about avalanches, openings and closing," Lambie said.

Taos Ski Valley is now a certified B Corp, or for-profit company that dedicates itself to making decisions and investments that are good for the environment and society. Since the Ski Valley become a B Corp, Lambie's noticed a "concerted effort" to bring more business to locals, he said.

Taos Ski Valley CEO David Norden said in a recent interview that working with local businesses "helps build strong relationships, contributes to the local economy, creates jobs and shortens our supply-chain, which in effect reduces our overall carbon footprint."

Brownrice has about 1,200 clients. Lambie said the company is in their top 10 percent of clients and definitely one of the largest local clients.

"It's good, small-town symbiotic stuff that's more valuable than just the dollars they pay us," he said.

There are other local companies that are front-and-center for the renovations.

Robert Medina and Sons, a contracting company based in Taos, has "delivered concrete, gravel ... about everything our business offers ... for the roads, parking lots and buildings," said Sarah Medina Martinez.

Their company works for the renovation's general contractors, some of which are also local companies.

Red Tail Surveying, a company of about six people that provides land surveying and property research services, has been able to grow through their work with the Ski Valley.

"Our partnerships have enabled us to advance our technologies to create 3D models and do [more geographic information systems]. It's been great to have a high-end customer that needs that kind of service because that's enabled us to be a cutting edge surveying company," said owner Robert Watt.

"It's lucky we've [had] consistent work and been able to grow with the Ski Valley," Watt said.

Yet newer businesses based in Taos County are also feeling the positive impact of more activity in Taos Ski Valley.

Lorenzo Ortega, who is from, and still lives in, Questa, bought Taos Sanitary Supplies a little over two years ago. It's a small company with only a few employees, but their janitorial services (like commercial and carpet cleaning) include the glitzy, newly-built Blake hotel, as well as the Ski Valley's overall food and beverage department.

"They are a huge impact on our business. I'm very grateful they started doing more business with us under the new ownership," he said.

"I'm a ski bum so it's like heaven up there," Ortega said.

Tea.o.graphy is another Taos-based business that's seen a remarkable boon from its partnership with Taos Ski Valley.

"Tea.o.graphy provides locally handcrafted, organic tea to many of the locations at the Ski Valley, like The Bavarian, Tenderfoot Katie's, Rhoda's Restaurant, The Blake and their restaurant," said owner Dana Blair.

"When creating the relationship with TSV we were excited to find that the owners appreciated our compostable packaging and purely and ethically sourced ingredients. Because of the partnership, our wholesale [and] retail exposure has increased 10-fold. We have even seen significant international traffic on our website as well," said Blair.

"We see the value in partnering with large companies like TSV because they see the value in supporting local businesses," said Blair.

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