Q Burke and Kingdom Trails on the mend

Q Burke Mountain and Kingdom Trails Association will return to the negotiating table regarding mountain biking and Nordic skiing operations at the ski area.

Bill Stenger, part-owner of Jay Peak ski resort and a business partner at Q Burke, says the company values Kingdom Trails and wants to stay connected. Q Burke CEO Ary Quiros had stated previously that Q Burke had cut ties with the nonprofit after three years of coordinated operations on the mountain.

That news ruffled feathers locally and in the mountain biking and ski communities. A subsequent email Quiros sent to a concerned mountain biker further inflamed relations.

“you have neglected a great product here and the hard working employees that make Burke work,” Quiros wrote. “this is an exciting place here and believe me, it’s not because of kingdom trails.”

Stenger has since back-pedaled from Quiros’ stance.

In an email exchange Dec. 20, Stenger credited the Kingdom Trails for helping establish East Burke as a mountain biking “Mecca.”

“I can say that we still have the highest regard for KT and wish to find the proper working relationship that benefits KT and Burke Mt’s operations,” Stenger wrote. “We will reach out to KT to continue to work on a formula that is healthy and successful for all.”

Quiros declined to comment on the change of direction.

KTA executive director Tim Tierney said he’s encouraged by Stenger’s statements.

“We also are looking to move forward with this relationship because we know it makes sense for our community and for their company,” Tierney said.

In a statement, Tierney urged KT supporters to not boycott Q Burke, as many on social media had suggested they would. He said it would harm everyone in the community, including Kingdom Trails and the community members who still work at the ski area.

Stenger and Tierney both expressed wishes for a mutually beneficial solution.

Stenger also noted that the mountain has operated “in the red” through a succession of owners over the past few decades.

“Prudent operational efforts need to be made. I think we are doing many of the right things to be efficient but acknowledge we need to better communicate the reasoning,” Stenger said. “I know we will succeed in reestablishing a quality working relationship with KT.”

The Kingdom Trails Nordic Center, previously located on Dashney Road in conjunction with the ski resort, has been relocated for the winter to nearby Darling Hill.

CORRECTION: This article was corrected on Jan. 11, 2014, to reflect Bill Stenger’s role at Q Burke as a business partner.

Follow Hilary on Twitter @nilesmedia

Comments

  1. CJ Scott :

    Dear Kingdom Trails Supporters,
    Would like to thank everybody who has voiced their support, concern, and willingness to help out over the past few days. Few organizations enjoy such a demonstrative, loyal membership. For that we feel truly thankful and humbled.
    In regards to some of the comments that we’ve seen online in the past few days, we want to put a plug in for our community, many of whom include our friends who work at the mountain. The employees and management of QBurke Mountain Resort are a big part of our community here. We have, in most cases, worked with these folks for years. They’re our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members. While we respect your decisions in terms of voting with your wallet, we want you to know that everyone in this community, including Kingdom Trails, would feel the impact if you choose to enjoy your outdoor recreation- including skiing and snowboarding- elsewhere. Please don’t let the events of the past few days change your plans for the winter. We ski at and ride Burke, and plan on continuing to do so.
    We also want to assure our users that cooler heads will prevail. Interested parties have reached out and stated that they would like to seek a resolution to our current situation. We are encouraged by the news, and look forward to a conversation that explores any future collaborations with QBurke that would best serve our community, our users, and our organizations.
    We wish you all a happy holiday season, and hope to see you at the KT Nordic Adventure Center on Darling Hill soon.

    Sincerely,

    The staff and Directors of Kingdom Trail Association

  2. Susan Pekala :

    If Ary Quiros wants to succeed at Burke Mountain he should seek Bill Stenger’s wise council. Bill has worked hard at building local relationships. The NEK is a tight community. Ary is going to need our good will in days to come.

    Susan Pekala
    Danville, VT

  3. Michael Stahler :

    Mr. Stenger:

    Please, please come to Burke or at least send someone who has some experience running a ski area and/or working in hospitality.

    I am stunned that the Email that was cited is actually authentic (and can be found here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/uvmba ). That is far from professional in any field.

    Prayers for Burke.

  4. Kim Fried :

    This letter from KTA really shows what a great organization they truly are. Tim Tierney’s leadership and Board have done all the right things over the years with the community and enjoy the support of many, many non bike riders like myself. Bill Stenger has accomplished the same sucess with his organizations. A corlaboration between these two men and their organations will be a great win for the area and out dood sports that has never been seen any where else in the country.We wish these two individuals and organizations only the best working together.

  5. This is encouraging news. Thank you Bill!

  6. Steve Joyce :

    Assuming that email in authentic, and so far everything I have reasearchde on it appears to lean towards a genuine response from Q jr, I don’t see how Stenger let Jr stay in that position, or any position on the mountain going forward.

    Any type of apology or reconsideration coming from Jr would be a PR move only and based on his email response we know his true feelings on KT and the community. When he responds to an email from a customer, he is speaking for Burke Mountain and the Stenger organization; he obviously doesn’t grasp that concept. His response would be grounds for dismissal from any organization I have worked for. Not to mention, why would Stenger want to keep him on the mountain knowing his presence alone makes the next few years an uphill battle?

    If Stenger really wants to work through this, and based on his track record I’m sure he does, the first true change he can make to prove he is serious and not just trying to quell a PR nightmare is to remove Jr as CEO and install someone with experience running a ski mountain and 4 season resort as well as someone with a little more customer centric and community focus.

  7. Doug Spaulding :

    What a childish response to an adult situation and one that really wasn’t necessary to begin with. The fires on that mountain will come soon enough so it is too bad that Q jr. is already starting some. I like to think that he was just fluffing his feathers in an attempt to let everyone know he is now the boss but he sure came across as a pompous “boss man” stuck on his own self importance. With an attitude such as that, Mr. Stenger and Mr. Quiros (Sr) can kiss this venture goodbye before the spring pond skim even hits the books.

  8. It’s a relief to hear an adult has taken away the infant terrible’s PR duties. Bill Stegner sounds as if he knows what is at stake here and has the maturity to resolve the issues.
    This unfortunate situation seems to be a textbook example of what happens when a guy like Ary, unfamiliar with (or contemptuous of ?) a specific, regional ethos ignores the local culture that has made it viable, and initiates a scorched earth policy under the pretext of being “right”. Nothing wrong with wanting to bring a business out of the red into the black, but there seems to be little understanding here of the Goose that laid the golden egg. ( Okay, the egg hasn’t been exactly golden lately, but the “goose” is much more a loyal clientele base than an alien set of rules and canceled opportunities . )
    For starters, why the re-branding? Even a high school dropout knows you don’t buy Ford Motor Company and re-name it Bob’s Ford Motor Company. The pre-fixed “Q” smacks loudly of naked narcissism, a trait despised in the NEK. It also bears an unfortunate whiff of Donald Trump’s insatiable ego ; Trump Towers, Trump Plaza, etc, etc. This name change alone is going to alienate many more loyal Burke customers than lure new ones.
    And then there’s the personnel issue. I’ve read that the Q version of Burke will be staffed by minimum wage “interns”, kids who know nothing of the business, will come and go and leave behind none of the continuity and familiar faces Burke has supported for years. The Q folks are reported to have fired much of the existing staff. Guess how that will resonate throughout a community where jobs are scarce.
    The closing of the bike trails seems to me to be the craziest choice of all — not from a profit/loss point of view, but from a public relations angle. If ever there was a gainful loss leader, the KT trails are it, and there are many ways to negotiate a compromise here. Let’s hope Bill Stegner has the skill and wisdom to find a reasonable solution, and urge him to dump the Q prefix and the egotist who promoted it.

    • Steve Joyce :

      Well stated Don.

      Based on conversations with a handful of folks still on the mountain, employee engagement isn’t exactly a high priority with Jr either.

      It’s hard to drive customer service and a friendly atmosphere without engaged happy employees, they execute your business plan, if htey don’t believe in it, their execution goes into the dumper.

      Again, here’s hoping Mr. Stenger removes Jr and fixes some of the issues already created.

    • John Fallon :

      Here here Don. I echo all your sentiments regarding the name change.

      I can not get over this ridiculous prefix. I can’t believe it. The Q name is so incredibly absurd, it has to go. I’ll try to ignore it until then.

    • Flip Buttling :

      Concur 100%. Jr. has shown little sense or feel for the community and how to play nice with others. Burke can be profitable without the “Q”, and by enhancing and promoting those traits that make Burke what it is, and not by trying to be what it’s not. Jr. should read Dr. Seuss sometime- even my kids know this lesson.

  9. David Dempsey :

    Thanks to Bill Stenger for doing the right thing. Mending fences might become a full time job for him if other investors ruffle feathers the way this guy did. $500,000 for most of these investors is chump change. Money can buy them a green card, but it can’t buy character.

  10. Kathy Nelson :

    While I’m glad to see Stenger intervene in the mess the child Quiros has made I don’t think it is wise to bolster the ego of Stenger with a lot of back-patting here. Stenger’s twisted plans for the community-wrecking of Newport should not be ignored. Under his guidance Newport will see essential businesses and services destroyed for the sake of a new building and a hotel/marina to be staffed with low-wage, and probably out of state employees. And the places he wants to build will not be for the locals, it will be for his wealthy and elite friends. Stenger is anything but a friend to VT and his use of the revolting EB5 scam is nothing to be proud of.

  11. steve merrill :

    So the head of Ponzi Peak had to rebuild Jr.’s burned bridges, go figure..Note all the qualifiers in ALL the newspaper articles like “expect to”, “will have”, “should be”, etc. etc..And not ONE “reporter” could call a realtor in Boston/Montreal to see if the actually IS a “clean room shortage”? Or check Yahoo Investor about “AnC Bio” Bio-Med & Sport Betting Co. in Korea? Building planes that cannot be insured (stick only), don’t need nor can give lessons on, etc.? Anyone remember PT Barnum? Regarding “Q Burke” as Ego-We Go, why not re-name it “Qurke” or “Quirk” Mtn.? Some may have noticed the crackdown on super rich and fleeing money from Commie China lately, the info’s been in print lately, so maybe the Triads and protected drug runners could just see their EB-5 cash cow now drying up, and what then? And the “sewer-front” marina & hotel in Newport? None of the locals will swim anywhere NEAR there, even on the hottest days of summer, as it’s the well known MAIN outflow for their sewer treatment plant!! Nevermind the brown stains on your Donzi’s and sailboats, and if you dare to go swimming there make sure you wear goggles and keep your mouth CLOSED for the e-coli..We have an open invitation for the Mayor or any other Newport elected official to get $250 CASH to drink a 12 oz. glass of water from that cove with NO takers as yet, but it’s “clean”!! SM, North Troy

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