High-Altitude Investment for DU Alums
Three Daniels College graduates take over Echo Mountain
Their love for skiing, snowboarding and their entrepreneurial spirit are driving three University of Denver alumni to take their education and skills to new heights. Peter Burwell (BSBA ’11), Kyle Granowski (BSBA ’10, MS ’10) and Fred Klaas (BSBA ’11) became good friends while studying at the Daniels College of Business. That friendship has now evolved into a business partnership.
“We got to looking at the different value propositions,” says Burwell, president and CEO of Burwell Enterprises Inc. “Echo Mountain being the closest mountain to Denver and the population base growing in Denver, we saw a really solid opportunity to take something that struggled for so long and revitalize it by getting a good team and investing some money into it.”
Echo Mountain, which used to be called Squaw Pass Ski Area, has historically struggled financially and changed ownership several times.
“The handful of us that were involved early on basically sat down and really tried to figure out why has this failed, and we looked at the specific reasons,” says Klaas, general manager at Echo Mountain. “Basically, we said, ‘What’s the best option to try to make this work?’”
The trio appear to be doing something right. The ski area, just west of Evergreen, opened this winter and is attracting families, first-time skiers and those who want to avoid the crowds and traffic associated with visiting ski resorts further west.
Granowski, co-founder and CEO of Utivity Inc., says their success is directly tied to the business classes they took while attending the University of Denver. “I was really intrigued by a lot my finance classes, my corporate classes, my modeling classes, mergers and acquisitions and that sort of thing. That really got me excited about understanding the finance industry, and that ultimately took me on a career path toward investment banking and private equity.”
“Echo Mountain is a great alumni story because you see the convergence of three individuals who met, spent time at DU, formed friendships and relationships, and it really wasn’t until five or six years after graduation that a business opportunity presented itself,” says Brandon Buzbee, associate vice chancellor for global networks at DU. “Part of what we’re trying to do is help our alumni see the power of connection and the power of our network. You got your degree but in some ways, like a bond or a stock, it appreciates over time. We want them to see how much more valuable it is after five or ten years after graduation.”