Michael Huffman. (Contributed photo.)

Ski Hill manager steps down

Mike Huffman will be replaced by Lex Rei-Jones later this month

Hudson Bay Mountain Resort’s (HBMR)general manager will be stepping down. Mike Huffman has been with the company for seven years. He has taken a new position with Edmison Mehr Chartered Professional Accountants.

Huffman, from Vancouver, was in public practice for six years and then went looking for a job outside of traditional accounting. He came to Smithers and had an interview with then-president of HBMR Gary Mathiesen, toured Smithers and fell in love with the town and the resort. He was hired in March of 2013 as the financial controller, and then promoted to the Finance and Administration Manager in 2015. Two years later became the resort’s General Manager.

“It was a definitely a decision my wife and I thought about for a while,” he said about making the move. “I’ve been in Smithers for seven years, I moved up here to take the job with the resort and we were thinking long-term and what do we wanted to do. It came down that we wanted to stay in Smithers long-term, we really love it here. When I first moved here I thought I’d have a longer career in the ski industry and this would be a stepping stone, but the more time we spent here, the more we couldn’t picture ourselves leaving.”

This past season HBMR had a tough go with mother nature, mechanical issues with its chairlift and COVID-19, but Huffman said that wasn’t entirely the reason he decided to step down.

“This was the toughest season I’ve ever experienced with the mountain,” he said. “It was pretty demanding. We have a daughter that is about to turn two. Trying to balance the role of GM with having a young family is challenging because it is pretty much a 24/7 job.”

He added he couldn’t picture himself turning 65 and still doing everything that is involved with the general manager role because it is so demanding.

“It is bittersweet, that is for sure. I’m really excited about the new opportunity but I’m sad that my journey with the mountain is coming to an end.”

Huffman said he will miss the connection with the community the most.

“The ski industry is a lot of fun, you get to experience the outdoors, making memories for families. It is a really exciting and fun part of it.”

He will continue to go skiing and snowboarding at the resort in the future.

“I’m looking forward to going up and enjoying the mountain as a guest and not being responsible for everything else up there.”

He will stay on until mid-June when Lex Rei-Jones will take over as interim general manager.

Rei-Jones has been with the resort since 2005, starting off in the Rental Shop, then moving into Guest Services and then took on the job as Inside Operations manager.

“This is the start of a new chapter for Hudson Bay Mountain” said HBMR owner Gary Mathiesen in a press release. “Over the past several years Mike has contributed greatly to the Resort’s success and I am extremely grateful for his dedication and hard work. I have enjoyed working with him and witnessing the growth of his professional career. I thank him for his significant contribution and have no doubt he will succeed greatly in his new role.”

He added that he has also worked with Rei-Jones ever since taking ownership of the resort in 2010 and called her “an intelligent, thoughtful team player with an impressive work ethic, readily taking on new challenges with great success.”

He said he will also play a more active role in the management of the resort during this transition period.

Smithers accountant Janne Polfiet will take over the management of the resort’s finances on June 15.

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