Family, French Fries, and business values

I’ve been skiing for almost 20 years and I did something yesterday I’ve never done before at a mountain. I also saw something that I never have as well.

I played hockey growing up as a kid in Skaneateles. I first put on skates at 5 years old and played until I was about 15. My mother was a single mother of 2 boys who both played hockey. So, that means as we got older, we literally lived at the rink. Before I stopped playing, I was on the travel team which practiced 2, and sometimes 3 times a day (read: not a WEEK, a DAY!).

After one particularly long season, our family sat down for dinner one night and my mom broke the news to us: we simply can’t keep playing hockey. It was too much time, too expensive, and we couldn’t keep up.

But, she offered a compromise. Instead of playing hockey, she would buy us a family skiing pass to Song Mountain in Tully.

Naturally, as a 15 year old kid, nothing she said was going to please me but it was obvious the choice had already been made.

Thursday nights at the rink were replaced with ski club. Saturday mornings at the rink were replaced by family skiing.

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were skiing with my friends at ski club. Mark Fellermann would always be the DJ on the bus playing, “Pump up the Jam” to get us fired up before we pulled into Labrador Mountain. Scott Clearwater and I would always try to outdo each other doing tricks off the headwall (you know, what better way to impress the girls?!? Actually, I do know the answer. It’s: do a double daffy off the 15 foot headwall, land on top of a ski instructor, fall backwards flat on your back, break your right thumb, get whisked to the hospital on a backboard, and have your parents get called to the bowels of the Carrier Dome by security. That’s how to impress the girls).

Fast forward to yesterday, about 3:30pm. I am on the chairlift at Toggenburg Mountain Winter Sports Center skiing with Paigey texting Shioban who was sitting in the Foggy Goggle.

On our next run, we stopped in the middle of the hill and pull out my phone (this is the thing I’ve never done before at a ski hill): I call Shioban to ask if my mother and her roommate had arrived to meet her for a beer and dinner. They had.

“Paigey wants to make sure that Grammie and Carol are watching her ski”. They were.

It’s New Years Day but it’s also my mother’s (she’s now Grammie these days) birthday. We don’t celebrate fancy birthdays in our family. We shoot for comfortable and fun.

We sat at the Foggy Goggle and had dinner. It felt like we were sitting over at a friend’s house. The food is always good. The French fries are the best. The atmosphere is great (we’ve shot a few cocktail shows there because of it). But, it’s the people that truly make it what it is. Our server was Ashley, who has done some tastings for us in the past. She’s awesome. Half the staff has been there forever. It’s like a family.

We choose to do business with people that have similar values as us. They aren’t our biggest account and never will be. But, we couldn’t care less. They took care of us as they always do.

Family, french fries, beer, and tons of laughs. The perfect birthday all while creating great memories for our kids to look back on.

~ Ben

(none of us had ever seen the hill actually being groomed before. After the sun went down, they groomed the entire hill and we were all mesmerized by the machine. I totally want to drive it and that’s the video you see)