Page 133

a second feeder line into Girdwood. Right now, just one line serves the community. If heavy snow or ice topples a pole, the town—and the ski area—can go dark. To build the second line, Chugach is spending $1 million in capital program funds, but the state Legislature also approved $1 million in state capital funds for the project. If he’d had to pay for these electrical improvements, Byrne said, he would have been less likely to commit the capital to the chairlift upgrade this summer.

Ski Bum

There’s cold. And there’s Alaska cold. they don’t call it the Great Land for nothing. everything is greater here: the temperature drops, the storms, the winds, the ice, the tidal changes. that’s why our orca class vessels are specially built to withstand the worst that nature can throw at us between tacoma and anchorage. meeting the unique demands of alaska is only part of our business. meeting yours is everything else.

Photo Credit: Frank Flavin

Media reports of Byrne’s Alyeska acquisition sometimes refer to him as a “ski bum” who bought a resort. Avid skier, yes—Byrne tries to spend at least two or three hours a day on the slopes, though a knee injury last December at Alyeska has sidelined him temporarily. Deadhead, yes—he still listens to the Grateful Dead in his car, or whenever he’s playing foosball. Byrne did work as a ski instructor while on “the fiveyear-plan” at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He was, however, hardly a bum. Raised on the East Coast, Byrne said his father was credited with saving the insurance company Geico, and in the 1970s became friends and then business partners with legendary investor Warren Buffett. Byrne himself spent four years on Wall Street with Salomon Brothers before he quit and bought a motel in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and began to build his real estate business. Alyeska is owned through Byrne’s Utah real-estate investment company, Cirque Property. Byrne lives at Alta, Utah, a single parent of two daughters, Noelle and Kaelee, ages 15 and 12. Byrne said he hopes to keep the resort in the family. The girls already are making plans: “Kay wants to run the ski area with Di (the current ski area general manager), and Noelle has great ideas for the hotel.” Buying the resort gave Byrne an opportunity to give back to a sport “that’s meant a great deal to me,” he said. “To perpetuate Alyeska was really my primary mission. I’m sure this won’t be the all-time most successful deal as it relates to an internal rate of return. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here for the long-term.” q 800.426.0074 • Alaska Business Monthly • April 2012


April - 2012 - Alaska Business Monthly  

Alaska Business Monthly’s 2012 Corporate 100 annual special section begins on page 86. Top citizens of industry are highlighted in this annu...