Local Ski Areas Still Hoping to Attract Workers

Mohawk Employees Wear Multiple Hats to Bridge the Gap

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Colder weather is finally coming.

That, combined with the approaching holiday, and more people taking time off from work and school means local ski areas are about to get very busy.

That's nothing new in Connecticut for December.

What's different this year is the number of workers available to fill all of the jobs.

Managers at Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall say they've taken the concept of cross-training out of the gym, and into the workplace to address the issue.

Matt Morris is an example. He's the rentals manager at Mohawk, but also tunes skis and snowboards in the ski shop, and helps take care of some of the resort's IT needs.

And it's not just the managers filling in. He says the people he's hired for the rental team this winter are also being trained in the retail shop. 

“Everybody. No matter what it is, you're doing something different right now," Morris said.

That's the case inside the lodge and outside.

We talked to Mike Dagnone, who manages lift operations and the tubing hill at Mohawk.

He says he's been jumping in on snowmaking and has also interviewed job candidates to help out the Mountain Operations Manager.

They are hoping to do more job interviews, but admit being located in the lightly populated northwest corner of the state means they have access to fewer potential employees than many other businesses in Connecticut.

One effort to offset that is to offer additional perks for employees this year. Mohawk is augmenting their free season passes for employees by offering discount passes for family and friends, and free food for employees.

A big investment in technology before the season could also help fill the gap. 

Cassie Schoenknecht, whose grandfather opened Mohawk Mountain 75 years ago, says Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, will now scan lift passes, freeing up their employees to work on other things.

“We do have that advantage. Whereas it used to be manually checking, looking at the little time and that kind of thing. So now it's all automated."

But most of the work still requires people. Everyone we talked to at Mohawk told us that no matter how many positions they're able to fill this winter, or how many hats they wear in a day, the most important part of the job description is making sure guests have a good time.

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