LAKEWOOD, Colo., May 8, 2017 – As ski and resort industry veterans from around the country gathered for their annual shindig, the National Ski Area Association’s annual convention this week, there might have been any number of candidates from big resorts in contention for the top honors. But in the end, it was the manager of one of Vermont’s oldest and humblest of ski areas, Bromley that earned the Lifetime Achievement Award.
NSAA presented its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Bromley’s Brian Fairbank. Fairbank is the longtime ski area developer, owner, and founder of The Fairbank Group, a regional resort operation company that manages three New England ski areas, a renewable energy company, and a snowmaking manufacturing venture. Fairbank received the honor at a special awards presentation May 6 at NSAA’s National Convention and Tradeshow in Scottsdale, Ariz.
A Life of Innovations
A distinguished industry leader both in New England and across the country, Fairbank has accomplished a remarkable number of achievements within so many different aspects of the ski industry that have separated him from his peers. From champion of sustainability to developer of snowmaking innovations – not to mention his successes as a multi-resort owner – his approach to life and his career is celebrated for his enthusiasm for the sport, his passion and commitment to the growth of the industry, and his overall zest and infectious good humor. The ski industry is proud to honor the amazing accomplishments of Brian Fairbank as NSAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient this year.
“For his lifelong commitment to conservation and renewable energy initiatives; for building an enormously successful resort company; and for his enduring example of leadership and passion for the growth of the broader ski industry, NSAA is proud to present Brian Fairbank with its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Michael Berry, NSAA president.
A lifelong skier, Fairbank has led Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Western Massachusetts for nearly ﬁve decades. He began skiing at age six, and grew up visiting ski areas throughout the Northeast, predominantly in western New York at Kissing Bridge and Holiday Valley. He became a PSIA-certiﬁed ski instructor in his teens, and by the age of 23 became the general manager of Jiminy Peak in 1969, where the resort thrived under his leadership.
Once a PSIA Instructor, Always One
Even with his duties managing the resort, Fairbank still maintained his ski teaching credentials, serving as a PSIA examiner from 1971 to 1986 and serving as a member of the PSIA Demo Team. Fairbank became co-owner of Jiminy Peak in 1985 with Joe O’Donnell of Boston Culinary Group. In 2008, he launched The Fairbank Group with his son, Tyler. O’Donnel added historic Cranmore Mountain Resort in New Hampshire in 2010 and Bromley Mountain in Vermont in 2011 to his duties as a manager.
Throughout his career, Fairbank has been a leader in growing the sport and nurturing the broader ski industry. In 1997, he was the driving force and chief architect of Mountains of Distinction, an afﬁliation of 21 ski resorts in the Midwest and East that collaborated to expand the sustainability of the sport of skiing. The organization provided a vehicle for its resort members to gain some of the same beneﬁts and efﬁciencies as larger national conglomerate ski entities, including increased purchasing power, inter-resort season pass beneﬁts, and sharing business growth initiatives and best practices.
He also served on the NSAA Board of Directors from 1990 to 2004, and served as board chairman from 2000 to 2002. (For his inﬂuence and distinguished leadership, NSAA awarded Fairbank the Sherman Adams Award for an Eastern resort operator in 2005.) And for the last 15 years, Fairbank has served on the board of directors for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
A Committment to Sustainability
Fairbank is also deservedly recognized as a ski industry pioneer in green energy and sustainability. In 2007, he drew national acclaim when Jiminy Peak installed a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine – and was recognized by NSAA when Jiminy Peak received the Golden Eagle Award for sustainability in 2008. In 2016, the Fairbank Group constructed a 2.3MW solar facility, making Jiminy 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
At the age of 71, Fairbank is still developing industry-leading initiatives. His lifelong fascination with snowmaking innovations and efﬁciencies – including obtaining a patent for an early snowgun – lead him to launch Snowgun Technologies LLC in 2015 with son Tyler and partner Joe O’Donnell, following years of experimentation with low-energy, high-production snowguns, resulting in one of the most energy-efﬁcient guns on the market today. Fairbank converted Jiminy Peak and the other Fairbank Group resorts to the use of 100 percent of this new technology for the 2016 season.
Given his start in the industry as a ski instructor and his lifelong commitment to PSIA, it’s no surprise that Fairbank has been one of the industry’s leaders in growing the sport. During his lengthy tenure on the NSAA Board of Directors and as chair, Fairbank was instrumental in the development and launch of NSAA’s Model for Growth in 1999, which was designed to increase participation in the sport of skiing. Jiminy Peak was selected as a demonstration resort for advancing new skier retention initiatives through the adoption of Beginner Learning Centers, which became the model adopted by many resorts across the country. And recently, the Fairbank Group’s three resorts have been have been among the ﬁrst to adopt Snow Operating Inc.’s Terrain Based Learning™ model to help increase participation in skiing and snowboarding.
Congratulations Mr. Fairbank, Vermont’s proud of you.