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Dave Olson, Published November 27 2011

It's My Job: Running a family ski haven

Alexandria, Minn. – Tom Anderson’s father, Paul, and his uncle, Vern, founded Andes Tower Hills Winter and Summer Resort in the early 1980s.

Tom Anderson worked on the ski slopes for a number of years before moving to Tennessee, where his wife was from.

Anderson and his family moved back to the Alexandria area about five years ago, when Tom took a job working for a company that sells attachments for skid-steer loaders.

But he spent his winter weekends on the ski hill as a way of staying close to the industry he loves. So when an opportunity recently presented itself to become the general manager of the resort, Anderson took it.

What are your responsibilities as general manager?

It’s to make sure we have good customer service and good employee training so that we have the best ski resort in the area. There are not a lot of them, but it doesn’t matter. We want to be the best.

What are some of the changes the resort has seen over the years?

I think they had about 10 employees their first season. Last year, they had about 120. Also, when they started, they had nothing but surface lifts. Now we have three chairlifts.

new for this ski season?

Yes. We’ve upgraded one of the chairlifts; it’s called a variable-speed chairlift.

Before, if you pressed a button, you’d go full-speed right away. This one, it will start up slower. If someone falls on the lift line, you can slow it down without stopping it.

father and uncle still involved with the business?

They are still the owners, but they’ve kind of been taking a backseat because this is not their main business.

What do you like about the business?

It’s one of the few sports where any age can do it and you can get a whole family out.

Andes Tower Hills is very established. Do you have to do much marketing anymore?

Absolutely. It’s like starting a new business every year.

You’re not in the customers’ thoughts for eight months out of the year, and they forget. It’s like you have to remind them you’re still there.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

Ski conditions

Andes Tower Hills Winter and Summer Resort opened for the skiing season Friday.

For up-to-date conditions, call (320) 965-2455, or go to www.andestowerhills.com.