New Owner Spurs Resurgence At N.Y’s West Mountain; From ‘Industrial Pit’ To Ski Area CEO
West Mountain in Queensbury, NY has a new owner, new management team and big plans for future expansion. That’s according to Spencer Montgomery who purchased the resort last year from former owner Mike Brandt.
“We grew up in an old farm house about a mile down the road from the mountain,” Montgomery, who was born in nearby Glens Falls Hospital into a family of six kids told SnoCountry.com. “Unlike the others, I was the only kid in the family that didn’t work at West Mt. I was the youngest and just skied my whole life, but now I’m working here.”
Spencer and wife, Sara, have four children, ages 12, 11, 8 and 5. He lived away from the Queensbury area for 17 years before returning to live in Glens Falls three years ago. Prior to his return he was involved in venture capital, worked on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, was a futures trader and in, as he puts it, “the Dow Jones industrial pit.”
Montgomery graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. in 1992. One of his best friends he grew up with, Bill Bronk, skied for Dartmouth.
“A group of them were skiing out in Breckenridge, so I jumped in the car and drove out there and spend the next three or four years in Colorado,”
Montgomery then spent five years in Chicago and after that went to Boulder for 10 years. He and Sara used to visit Glens Falls regularly. Sara loved the small town. “Sara is our Director of Public Relations and she’s doing a great job. It just sort of worked out.”
“I had been volunteering with the West race program,” Montgomery said, “and shortly thereafter I found out about some of the financial difficulties the mountain was facing and some of business issues they were having.
“About a year and a half ago I received a phone call from Mike Brandt asking if I would be interested in helping. I wrote him a letter, sort of a mission statement, on what I’d like to do here and my thoughts. He jumped in a car and drove out from Wisconsin where he now lives, and we spent part of a week together and it was out of the blue.”
Montgomery says his first initial impression was that he had to put together a more polished product so that people would start returning to West.
“In a short time we’ve put in about $600,000 to $700,000 that is not visible to the public, such as redoing all the plumbing in downstairs bathrooms, refurbishing each bathroom, fixing plumbing and gas-lines issues throughout the kitchen, including new dishwashers, new boilers and some overhaul of the façade.”
He credits Sara for the base lodge’s freshly painted color schemes and cleaning. West has also installed a new brake on the main chairlift, rebuilt the snow cats, snow guns, and main pumps for snowmaking.
Based on last year’s figures, Montgomery says West saw 30,000 skier visits. His goal, which will include a new quad lift, is 200,000 skier visits.
With 75 schools within easy driving distance to West (Albany, Troy, Schenectady, Saratoga, and Glens Falls cities), Montgomery claims those pure demographics support his eventual growth plans.
Photos: West Mountain, N.Y. view from top of triple chair (West Mountain/Facebook); Right photo: Spencer Montgomery, owner