When Ian Prichard ‘98 co-founded a ski rental delivery business in Colorado in 2002, the new concept quickly became successful. Tired customers who had flown cross-country to a ski resort appreciated the convenience of having ski equipment delivered to and fitted in their room, rather than lining up at a rental shop.
But — as Prichard told economics, business, finance, and marketing students during a talk at Nazareth College — he quickly had to deal with issues that they’re studying, such as sources of competition, product differentiation, pricing, marketing, and customer service.
Students peppered Prichard with questions about creating a business from scratch, expanding through license agreements, leveraging competitive advantage, securing seasonal employees, working with independent owners, and growing for the future. Peter Shea ‘18, a business management major, and Carrie Gilbert ‘18, a visual communication and design major, said they appreciate hearing real-world applications of business principles from guest speakers.
Prichard, in turn, had the opportunity to tell his former accounting professor, Phyllis Bloom, that while he’d struggled in accounting class, he now uses those skills and best practices for key decisions in his business.
Prichard’s multi-million-dollar Black Tie business now has 14 locations that serve three dozen ski resorts.
The liberal arts core courses and small classes with supportive faculty at Nazareth provided a foundation for entrepreneurship, says Prichard. “Being well-rounded gave me the courage to jump into something,” he told students.
Among Prichard’s advice for success in business:
Rochelle Ruffer, economics professor and School of Management undergraduate program chair, and Gerard Zappia, School of Management dean, thanked Prichard for sharing his experience. “You’re validating a lot of the material we teach,” said Zappia.
“Is the juice worth the squeeze? When is enough, enough?” said Ian Prichard, speaking at Nazareth in 2016 about work-life balance and whether further expansion is worthwhile for his 14-location Black Tie Ski Rental delivery business.
Major: business administration
Minor: sports management
Job: President & Co-Founder of Black Tie Ski Rental, based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado