SO ERIC JORGENSEN, a highly successful and involved businessman, now owns Marquette Mountain. Has he bought himself a profitable enterprise? And if not, can he transform it into a money maker?
“The revenue this season is better than it’s been in at least several years,” says general manager Andrew Farron, “but it’s still not sustainable.”
By that he means the Mountain is making a slight profit but not nearly enough to take care of repairs and improvements that will certainly lie ahead. No rainy day fund.
General manager Andrew Farron and his wife Sarah moved to Marquette nearly three years ago.
Farron, an engineer by trade, recently handed over to Jorgensen a 20 page report detailing the state of everything on the mountain–what’s new, what’s in good shape, what’s breaking down, what needs to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Also, prospects for the resort:
- The market for skiing and snowboarding. Charters from downstate, Wisconsin, and Illinois are not as popular as they once were. Marquette Mountain’s reputation has suffered in recent years.
- The push to attract mountain bikers during the summer. It was tried last summer with limited success. “We have to be cautious about that,” Farron says.
- Volleyball and other activities. Are they profitable?
- The restaurant and bar. How to make them more profitable?
- Weddings and other special events. Here, a major success. Farron says they’re virtually booked for weddings this summer–at least 25 of them scheduled. He believes they could do even better by “classing” up the resort a bit more for weddings. Plans are being discussed.
- Nordic skiing and ice climbing. They’re possibilities because much of the acreage at Marquette Mountain is currently unused.
What Farron didn’t mention to us, but others have, is installing a zip line at the Mountain. It could be a major attraction during the warmer months, but the major questi0n remains–Would it be profitable?
Plenty of questions and work ahead for Jorgensen and Farron.
Eric Jorgensen and his wife Sarah live in Wisconsin but recently purchased a second home in Marquette.
“I would not have done the deal without Andrew leading the day-to-day operations,” Jorgensen says. “He is the right person for the job.”
Quite an endorsement.
Now the two of them–the wealthy businessman and the young engineer, both avid skiers–have to figure how to make Marquette Mountain more of a four seasons resort without simply dumping gobs of money into it.
Jorgensen has already said he doesn’t intend to build condos or apartments on the property because there are plenty within ten minutes of the Mountain. And at this point, he doesn’t see replacing the lodge because of the cost involved.
Yes, he has wealth and yes, he’s devoted to the Marquette community (he and his wife own a house in town), and yes, he wants to make Marquette Mountain a jewel of the UP, but it’s also a business…one that he and Farron are determined to put on firm financial footing in the years ahead.