Searchmont ski hill purchased by Wisconsin Resorts Inc.

November 02, 2018

Searchmont Announcement

Searchmont Resort has a new owner. Wisconsin Resorts Inc. purchased the ski hill from the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. The deal, which includes all land, buildings and equipment, was finalized on November 1.

Wisconsin Resorts Inc. currently owns and manages four ski hills in the United States, including Pine Knob in Clarkston, Michigan. Its parent corporation, JFK Investment Company LLC, is a privately-owned and operated firm that deals in real estate development, asset management, leasing and consulting. The business also owns or manages 14 commercial properties in the Metro Detroit area.

“We are greatly excited to be taking on Searchmont ski hill,” said Joseph Kosik, President of Wisconsin Resorts Inc. “It is a fantastic mountain, and we look forward to working with all the local community to develop and expand this ski area.”

Wisconsin Resorts Inc., under its newly-formed affiliate company Searchmont Holdings Corporation, will operate the ski hill for the 2018-19 season. All ticket, accommodation and other bookings that have already been made will remain valid. Details on this year’s opening date will be posted at www.searchmont.com in the coming weeks. 

The sale to Wisconsin Resorts Inc. has been a long time coming. In December 2014, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation took ownership of Searchmont Resort. This transaction was required to ensure the ski hill remained open and sustainable. The organization’s goal was to help facilitate upgrades to the community asset, then seek a new owner to further develop the destination. This four-year endeavour has now reached a successful conclusion.

“We’re thrilled to see Wisconsin Resorts Inc. purchase the ski hill,” said Terry Rainone, President and Chair of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “The company has extensive experience in operating resorts and other commercial properties, and we’re excited to see them bring their expertise to the Searchmont destination. I’d like to thank our partners at Searchmont Ski Association, along with all the funding agencies and sponsors, for their generous support. I would also like to personally thank local entrepreneur Frank Shunock for his generosity that has gone a long way in keeping this resort operating for the benefit of the community.”

Searchmont Ski Association, which has been running the resort for the past decade, is set to dissolve in the near future. “When we were established as a non-profit organization, our goal was to manage the ski hill until a new owner and operator could be found, and we’re happy to see that time has come,” said Tyler Epp, President of the association. “Over the past four years, through our fruitful partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, along with the support of area businesses and the volunteer activities of our board members, a number of major improvements have been made to the resort facilities. Stakeholders like the Searchmont Ski Runners, No Limits Adaptive Ski Association, Searchmont & Area Freestyle Alliance, and Canadian Ski Patrol have also lent their support and assistance to ensure the resort continued to be an accessible community asset. We’re excited to see this positive trend carry on under the new ownership of Wisconsin Resorts Inc.”

Improvements made to Searchmont Resort in recent years include the reopening of the quad chair lift, hill remediation work causing less snow to be required to open runs, new signage, renovations to several slopeside villas, upgrades to the hill’s snowmaking system, a new roof on the main chalet building, and the purchase of newer groomers and other equipment. Thanks, in part, to these enhancements, this past 2017-18 season was exceptional. Visitations were up 27% and total revenue was up 22% from the previous year.

“The improvements and ultimate sale to Wisconsin Resorts Inc. would not be possible without the support of a number of partners, including FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, City of Sault Ste. Marie, Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area, Algoma University, Sault College, Lake Superior State University, and the dozens of business sponsors,” said Dan Hollingsworth, Executive Director of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation. “I’d also like to extend my sincere thanks to Frank Shunock of Warm Winds Trust, whose generosity and community devotion allowed the sale to take place.”

Located 48 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Searchmont Resort is a premier-ranked training and recreation facility with high-quality mountain terrain, amenities, events and entertainment. With a 750-foot vertical drop, it features 18 runs and four chair lifts. To learn more, visit www.searchmont.com.

For more information about JFK Investment Company LLC and Wisconsin Resorts Inc., including their real estate portfolio, go to www.jfkinv.com.

PHOTOS – Top Left: Following the announcement are (L to R): Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation President Terry Rainone, Searchmont Ski Association President Tyler Epp, Wisconsin Resorts President Joseph Kosik, and Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Dan Hollingsworth. Top Right: Don Mitchell (left), former President of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation, greets Joe Kosik from Wisconsin Resorts. Bottom: Dozens gather at the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation office to hear the announcement.

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