In this cold, you can be miserable or you can embrace it! Downhill skiing or snowboarding is one way to celebrate winter. You don’t have to go up north or out west to find a cold weather adventure: Oakland County’s Mt. Holly has been serving up snow for decades.
“The snowmaking, it still lights me up,” said Mark Tibbitts, general manager and a percentage owner of Mt. Holly.
He started at Mt. Holly in the 70s, running the snow machines.
“I started at the bottom rung,” Tibbitts said, “I wasn't sure I was going to live through the first season, let alone stay with it.”
He said snowmaking is tough work, but he realized he was cut out for that work: in fact, he enjoyed it.
“[Mt. Holly] was one of the first, if not the first, to have snowmaking and that's back in 1956,” Tibbitts said.
The resort’s slogan, “where the north begins,” isn’t just for show. It’s their founding mission.
“It was a pretty original idea by a gentleman by the name of Mort Graddis, who wanted to head off the Detroit, this large manufacturing in southeastern Michigan region, from going north and kind of keeping close to home,” Tibbitts said.
It worked like a charm and they’ve been adding hills and runs ever since.
“Everyone thinks it was a garbage dump, it was never that, it's always been a high point in Oakland County,” Tibbitts said.
You can imagine how dependent Tibbitts and his team are on the weather: their more than 145 snowmakers can supply the snow, but brutally cold or rainy days keep people away.
“As a 90-day business, all three months, December, January, February, are critical to us. We’re pretty optimistic about this one and we're still going to be here no matter what direction it takes,” he said.
Being optimistic and planning for icky days has been their secret to success.
“You just watch it and run it as tight as you can and generally speaking, we've got it costed out so we can recover a snow-making cost in the ticket price or in the rental price or what have you. Just keep pushing it forward and be as optimistic as you can because certainly if you were negative, you'd throw in the towel, no question about it,” Tibbitts said.
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