Meadows’ founder Drake to retire

News staff writer

October 25, 2006

A management change at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort has brought the end of an era to the Northwest ski industry.

Franklin Drake announced his retirement on Tuesday — turning the reins of the company over to his son, Matthew, and General Manager Dave Riley. Drake was the last of Oregon and Washington’s ski resort founders to still be in an operating role.

“Franklin Drake needs to be given credit for 40 years of hard work and results at Mt. Hood Meadows,” said Riley.

He said Drake wanted a “seamless transition” in management so he began phasing in a succession plan two years go.

“Under this plan, the public will enjoy dedicated experienced leadership capable of providing excellent customer service, safety and responsible operation and development for the foreseeable future,” said Drake.

“The resort’s success is a credit to dedicated key managers and employees attracted to the resort over the years, a strong partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and continual input and involvement from skiers as well as the environmental community, all of which have merged to help create this wonderful alpine recreation area, of which I am very proud.”

Riley, who has held the position of vice president and general manager since 1993, has been promoted to president and chief operating officer. Matthew, who has been secretary of the corporation since 1989, has taken the role of chairman and chief executive officer. Franklin will remain on the board of directors.

Gary Larson, USFS Mt. Hood supervisor, described Drake as a “gracious business partner” who helped the joint public/private venture of Meadows to flourish.

Since 1966, Meadows has become the largest and most popular ski area on Mt. Hood and the second-largest ski area in Oregon. During the 2005-06 winter season, the ski area set another all-time record with 503,095 winter visitors comprising 59.2 percent of total skier visits to all five ski areas on Mount Hood. In addition, Meadows attracts 40.6 percent of the total number of skier visits in the state.

“Few ski areas can meet the very high bar they have set in environmentally friendly ski lift construction. In addition, they have one of the highest ratios of skiers and snowboarders who use public transportation of any ski area in North America,” Larson said. “I look forward to continuing the legacy of our joint partnership with Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort.”

Gerry Frank, past chairman of the Oregon Tourism Commission, said Franklin has built Meadows into a premier winter recreational spot by his “vision and fortitude.” He believes the company’s ongoing contribution to the Oregon tourism industry will remain “alive and well” under Matthew’s watch.

Riley, who resides in Parkdale, concurs with Frank’s assessment. He said the vision of Meadows continues to be “providing an ideal mountain resort experience while respecting the environment.”

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