Buying and running a ski resort is a life goal for many of our readers. But pulling it off in your last year in college? It seems like an impossible task. Acquiring Minds published a great story earlier this month about this exact situation. Rick Schmitz pulled off the unthinkable when he bought Nordic Mountain as a Senior in College. Rick studied Finance at Washington University in St. Louis, but was committed to the typical route of the grueling financial industry, and wanted to pursue entrepreneurship instead. Through BizBuySell, Rick found Nordic Mountain in Wisconsin for sale for about one million dollars. Nordic Mountain had been on the market for five years.
Finding the financing for the purchase was the biggest challenge. He got the down payment from his parents(about $100k), but the main challenge was finding the additional funding with a college graduate budget. He was rejected by many banks when seeking a loan, but through hard work and continued persistence, he was able to find one. He also found additional financial funding opportunities when he got a loan from Wisconsin’s tourism boards, along with a local revolving loan fund program.
Due to low demand, Rick was able to purchase the mountains at $625,000, partially due to the maintenance that needed to be completed for the mountain to be sustainable. Rick spent heftily in marketing, improvements, and reinvesting the remaining money left over. In spite of making no money for the first ten years of running it, he turned the mountain into a popular local destination. Seventeen years after his purchase of Nordic Mountain, Rick estimates the mountain is now worth between $2.5 to $3 million.
Since then, he has bought two other mountains: Little Switz, and the Rock Snowpark. With owning these three mountains, he has turned a big gamble into a Midwest ski empire. His two brothers have joined in to help run the mountains, proving that ski hills can still be successful even without being run by a major corporation.