Leitner-Poma of America (LPOA) will build a $27 million manufacturing factory in Tooele, Utah, about 35 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The factory is scheduled to be completed by 2024 and will be Leitner-Poma’s largest facility in the country at more than 130,000 square feet. Poma of America first established its headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1981 and later expanded with offices in Vermont, Ontario, and British Columbia.
LPOA specializes in manufacturing, installing, and servicing all types of ropeway systems for the ski industry throughout the world. Daren Cole, president of LPOA, said, “Utah has a fantastic pro-business environment, and the ropeway market in Utah is growing exponentially,” and “We have a long-term commitment to the economic vitality of Utah and its outdoor industry.”
The new facility will enable Leinter-Poma to be more productive in a market with high demand for new-lift systems. The facility will be powered by solar panels and a 162-foot-tall wind turbine which will be enough to supply all the facility’s power.
COVID-19 put things on hold for any new development projects in the ski industry, but the number of skier visits increased after the pandemic, which has caused a renewal of requests for new lifts by resorts. The pandemic fueled the already lack of new requests for ski lifts, and manufacturers were looking at other sources of revenue, like urban projects that would allow for alternate public transportation for people.
All that changed in the 2020/21 season when the number of skiers hitting resorts increased after the pandemic, and the ski industry started looking again at development projects. Daren Cole, the president of Grand Junction’s Leitner-Poma, said that between Leitner-Poma and Doppelmayr, lift companies should have seen $300 million in new lifts installed at U.S. ski areas in 2022.
Peter Landsman is a person who understands the logistics and operations of running lift systems throughout the United States. Landsman runs LiftBlog.com, which tracks the U.S. resort industry’s lift infrastructure, and said, “Used to be that resorts could call up their lift company in February, order a new lift, sign a deal in March, and have it installed by November. I think those days are gone.”
Add Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company to the mix; you have the recipe for many new-lift orders. Vail Resorts is the country’s largest owner of ski resorts and has committed over $320 million in capital investments to their resorts. That investment will consist of adding 21 new chairlifts throughout 14 of its resorts over the 2022/23 seasons. Alterra is the 2nd largest owner of ski resorts in the U.S., and it has invested $450 million over the last few years in its resorts. Their gondola project connecting Palisades Tahoe and Alpine Meadows base areas alone cost approximately $60 million.
Large corporate ski resorts are not the only ones looking to invest in and develop their resorts. There have also been developments in independently-owned resorts looking to replace or build new lift systems at their mountains. Snowbowl, Snowbasin, and Sun Valley have started installing or are planning to install new lifts at their resorts. The super-elite-private resort of Wasatch Peaks Ranch has also made plans to have Leitner-Poma install nine new lifts at their resorts.
The increase in demand for new-lift systems throughout the country is a good sign that the ski industry is doing well after the pandemic. According to the National Ski Areas Association, the 2021/22 season broke the record in the U.S. with 61 million skier visits. That number was up 3.5% from the 2020/21 season, indicating that the ski industry is healthy and growing.