LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The National Ski Areas Association presented its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award to Cranmore Mountain Resort's Brian Fairbank, longtime ski area developer, owner and founder of The Fairbank Group, which operates three New England ski areas, a renewable energy company and a snowmaking manufacturing venture.
Fairbank received the ski industry's highest honor at a special awards presentation at NSAA's national convention and trade show, held May 5-8 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"For his lifelong commitment to conservation and renewable energy initiatives; for building an enormously successful resort company; and for his enduring example of leadership and passion for the growth of the broader ski industry, NSAA is proud to present Brian Fairbank with its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award," said Michael Berry, NSAA president.
A lifelong skier, Fairbank has led Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in western Massachusetts for nearly ﬁve decades. He began skiing at age 6 and grew up visiting ski areas throughout the Northeast, predominantly in western New York at Kissing Bridge and Holiday Valley.
He became a PSIA-certiﬁed ski instructor in his teens, and by age 23 became general manager of Jiminy Peak in 1969.
But Fairbank still maintained his ski teaching credentials, serving as a PSIA examiner from 1971-86 and as a member of the PSIA Demo Team.
Fairbank became co-owner of Jiminy Peak in 1985 with Joe O'Donnell of Boston Culinary Group.
In 2008, he launched The Fairbank Group with his son, Tyler, adding Cranmore Mountain Resort in 2010 and Bromley Mountain in Vermont in 2011.
Throughout his career, Fairbank has been a leader in nurturing the ski industry. In 1997, he was the chief architect of Mountains of Distinction, an afﬁliation of 21 ski resorts in the Midwest and East that collaborated to expand the sustainability of the sport. The organization provided a vehicle for its resort members to gain some of the same beneﬁts and efﬁciencies as larger national ski entities, including increased purchasing power, interresort season pass beneﬁts and sharing business growth initiatives and best practices.
He also served on the NSAA Board of Directors from 1990-2004, and was board chairman from 2000-02. (For his inﬂuence and distinguished leadership, NSAA awarded Fairbank with the Sherman Adams Award for an Eastern resort operator in 2005).
For the past 15 years, Fairbank has served on the board of directors for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Fairbank also is deservedly recognized as a ski industry pioneer in green energy and sustainability. In 2007, he drew national acclaim when Jiminy Peak installed a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine — and was recognized by NSAA when the resort received the Golden Eagle Award for sustainability in 2008.
In 2016, the Fairbank Group constructed a 2.3 MW solar facility, making Jiminy 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
At the age of 71, Fairbank is still developing industry-leading initiatives. His lifelong fascination with snowmaking innovations and efﬁciencies — including obtaining a patent for an early snowgun — led him to launch Snowgun Technologies LLC in 2015 with Tyler and partner Joe O'Donnell, following years of experimentation with low-energy, high-production snowguns. Fairbank converted Jiminy Peak and the other Fairbank Group resorts to the use of 100 percent of this new technology for the 2016 season.
Recently, the Fairbank Group's three resorts have been among the ﬁrst to adopt Snow Operating Inc.'s Terrain Based Learning model to help increase participation in skiing and snowboarding.
The National Ski Areas Association, headquartered in Lakewood, Colo., is the trade association for ski area owners and operators. Formed in 1962, it represents 332 alpine resorts that account for more than 90 percent of skier/snowboarder visits nationwide. It also has more than 400 supplier members who provide equipment, goods, and services to the mountain resort industry.
The Fairbank Group LLC, based at Jiminy Peak, manages and oversees a group of businesses that include the ski resorts Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Cranmore Mountain Resort and Bromley Mountain as well as EOS Ventures, Bullwheel Productions and other endeavors. For more information, visit Fairbankgrp.com.