Interview with Paul Duprey, Beaver Creek: recipient of the RMLA Lift Maintenance Employee of the Year Award
The Scene: This past May, I was by chance sitting with the ops crew from Beaver Creek at RMLA awards luncheon. Paul Duprey was the only one at this table who didn’t know he was receiving this RMLA award. While Mike Gierach, President, was introducing the importance of the award, Paul listening nods in agreement and continues eating. Mike mentions the process of nomination; Paul, absorbed in his dinner, continues to eat. When Mike announces “Paul Duprey!” Paul takes another mouthful of food until Wally, one of his team ribs him and says, “Hey Paul – it’s YOU” “What?” Paul says and chews all the way to the podium in total surprise. I think he was still chewing on stage. It was epically funny. And epically humble.
Beth: Paul – Congratulations on receiving the RMLA Lift Maintenance Employee of the Year Award! Tell us about your beginnings in Lift Operations?
Paul: My start was actually in 1966 during my teen years at a tiny ski area in Pepperell, MA called Indian Head. I was a lift operator for the one t-bar and two rope tows there.
From there, I moved to Colorado and in 1979 worked for Copper Mountain. Lift operators got paid $3.00 an hour but as they paid me to ski for one hour a day and eventually gave me a 25-cent raise, I thought life was pretty good.
In 1981, I became a Lift helper at Copper. Doug Allen (presently Mountain Operations Director at Steamboat, CO) was one of my first bosses. I took classes in Electronics and Welding. And then in 1991 was hired at Beaver Creek as a Lift Mechanic. I’ve been here ever since. That’s 25 years at Vail Resorts.
Beth: In 25 years, what have you found to be the single biggest change you’ve encountered at ski resorts?
Paul: Well, back in the earlier years ski areas were owned by individuals, where now, as in Vail Resorts, many are corporately owned. I think this is probably the biggest difference I’ve worked with.
Beth: You are a Team Lead as a lift mechanic. And your team is the one that nominated you for the Award. Tell me what your typical day is like as a Team Lead at Beaver Creek?
Paul: I manage the projects, parts and supplies needed and much of the paperwork. What I like is that it is not the same job everyday. Different employees, different personalities and an ever-changing schedule.
Beth: What do you do in your time off?
Paul: I like to go to the shooting range, and I hunt deer, elk and antelope. I also like to golf.
Beth: How long have you been attending RMLA?
Paul: Since 1982. I love the courses; meeting people from different areas with lift challenges. The networking and sharing techniques to fix lift problems is great.
Beth: Anything you’d like to close with?
Paul: I’d like to thank the guys who nominated me, Wally Azeltine and the crew. It’s a really good bunch of mechanics I work with.
For more information on Rocky Mountain Lift Association and this annual award, please visit www.rmla.org