Andy Shepard, left, became general manager of Saddleback in January. He and his wife, Betsey, will commute whenever they can to spend time with each other. He will be at the mountain much of the time and she will be at their South Freeport home for her job at L.L. Bean in Freeport. Submitted photo

Andy Shepard, the new chief executive officer and general manager of Saddleback, has a history of leadership, running sports institutes and ski areas among his accomplishments.

He has tried about every sport involving snow. He was inducted into the U.S. Biathlon Hall of Fame in October 2019 and three years prior to that, the Maine Ski Hall of Fame.

He founded the Maine Winter Sports Center and served as president and chief executive officer for 17 years before it evolved into the Outdoor Sport Institute in July 2016. He served in those same positions at the institute until July 2019. Both organizations are related to outdoor sports education, according to Shepard’s LinkedIn page.

In his new role, Shepard has a vision for Saddleback.

What attracted you to becoming general manager of Saddleback? Given the work we did at Maine Winter Sports Center, buying and redeveloping ski areas that have failed, or were in trouble, I was often contacted about Saddleback over the years. For various reasons it hadn’t made sense, but the Berry family reached out in 2014. I had so much respect for what they had done at the mountain and knew how important the mountain was to the economy of the region. My son and I went up and reviewed the books and believed there was a path to profitability, but it was going to take a lot of capital. Maine Winter Sports Center had just lost our funding that week and we had our own existential crisis, so we weren’t in a position to take on risk, but we talked through the spring to see if we could help find a solution. Without access to capital, it became clear Maine Winter Sports Center wouldn’t be it (the solution), and we respectfully stepped away. When Arctaris emerged as a perfect solution, Tom Federle (an attorney in Portland and my partner in trying to find the right buyer for the mountain) and I began working to bring Arctaris and the Berry family together. I’m honored to take on the challenge and work with a really extraordinary staff at the mountain to give the Saddleback community their home back.

Do you enjoy skiing and other outdoor activities? I do. I’ve enjoyed just about every sport you can do on snow, but at this point, prefer long cruiser runs and nordic skiing.

Were you in on the planning of bringing Saddleback back to being a popular skiing area? I was. I’ve been working with the Arctaris team, the staff at Saddleback and Tom Federle for the past two years on business planning. I’ve also been involved in understanding what it will take to make the redevelopment of the mountain part of a larger community and economic development strategy. In addition to making the mountain a sustainable business, we are also looking to help solve accessible housing, affordable and quality daycare, workforce development and finding ways to get seasonal workers year-round benefits.

Will you and your wife, Betsey, move to the area? Betsey has a job in the Creative Department at L.L.Bean and we still have a home in South Freeport. She’ll be working down there and I’ll be living and working at the mountain. With three of our four grandkids also in Freeport, I’ll be looking to get down there as much as I can and Betsey will look to spend as much time up here as she can. With the Bean offices closed down for the foreseeable future, we do feel blessed to be able to be together up at the mountain now.

What is your vision for Saddleback? I think what Saddleback offers in the quality of skiing, the unique, welcoming culture of the Saddleback family and the town of Rangeley makes for a really special ski area. My vision is that we make all of that work and use the success of the mountain to make the region a destination for young people and families from around the country that want cool things to do, a chance to have a great career and a great quality of life.

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