Kirkwood GM shares his love of mountains, family
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Kids drawings and family photos cover the walls and desk of Kirkwood General Manager Matt Jones’ office.
Jones loves his job because it allows him to bond with his two sons.
“My kids are super into this mountain,” Jones said. Adding that his oldest son, Brady, 10, is beating Jones when it comes to vertical feet but Jones has more days on the mountain this season.
Jones, who works five to six days a week, tries to ski four to five of those days, even if it’s just for an hour.
“I know no one is going to cry for me that I have to ski for work,” Jones said.
Jones grew up in the midwest and learned to ski at Mad River Mountain while he was in college in Ohio.
“I was always drawn to small towns and hills, which was a harbinger of how I’d spend my life,” Jones said.
His senior year of college, Jones spent his winter break working in Colorado where he learned how to ski in earnest.
After graduating college with a business degree, he worked in the human resources department at Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek.
Jones said at first, his mom wasn’t thrilled with him taking a seasonal job that paid hourly but it would lead him to where he is now.
He worked his way up the company, getting to know all aspects of the business and raising his hand for every opportunity available.
He worked in the corporate Vail offices but missed working on the mountain so in 2007, he took the position of HR Director at Vail Mountain. In 2017, he took over HR functions for all the Colorado mountains.
“It was clear we wanted to remain in the mountains and raise our kids in the mountains,” Jones said.
So, when the opportunity opened up at Kirkwood, he jumped at it.
“Kirkwood caters to the adventure family,” Jones said. “We immediately felt at home here.”
His family is incredibly important to him and one of his favorite things about Kirkwood is it’s family-friendly atmosphere. Whether it’s the learning center at Timber Lodge, the JETs program for kids or the Expedition: Kirkwood clinics, that his wife Courtney has taken advantage of, Kirkwood is a great place to learn and progress.
Coming from a human resource background, Jones also loves the staff culture at Kirkwood. When people first enter the resort, they are greeted by staff dancing and cheering. There is a focus on making the staff happy and almost every night there are activities for staff such as game and movie nights.
“It’s an authentic experience because the people here enjoy what they’re doing,” Jones said.
In addition to the learning opportunities and staff, Jones loves the history of Kirkwood. The property the resort stands on was purchased by Zachary Kirkwood in the 1860s and acted as a weigh station. Kirkwood Mountain Resort opened in 1972 with four chairs.
Before every decision Jones makes, he considers the history of the mountain.
“I ask, ‘how do we respect the history while looking for ways to improve?’” Jones said.
One way Jones is looking to improve Kirkwood, is by expanding their summer recreation options.
Due to lack of snow, Jones did his first tour of Kirkwood on a mountain bike and hopes to expand the relationship Kirkwood has with Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association.
In the meantime, Jones will continue enjoying the winter with Brady, Courtney, their youngest son Conner, 7, and their dog Sully.
“That’s why I do this amazing job,” Jones said. “Working with the best people in the industry and sharing that with my family.”
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