By JESSICA ISAACS
After buying the business they’ve been running for more than 20 years, one local husband-and-wife team is kicking their service up a notch in the Sugar Mountain community and being recognized for all of their hard work.
Under the umbrella of an out-of-state corporation, Keith and Shelly Lane have been managing food services at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort and Sugar Mountain Golf and Tennis Club for two decades. Under the resort’s new ownership, Kim and Gunther Jochl, the Lanes had an opportunity to purchase the business they’ve worked so hard to grow for many years.
The two recently wrapped up their first winter season at the resort as owners of the food service branch, and they’re getting started on their first summer at the golf and tennis club.
The Lanes were recognized on Tuesday night during an “After Hours” networking event hosted by the Avery County Chamber of Commerce at the club. Local leaders congratulated them on the milestone and thanked them for their dedication to the resort, to their work and to the community.
Sugar Mountain Golf Club Director Tom McAuliffe said the Lanes are a success story in which everyone in the area can take pride.
“They’ve worked for ‘the man’ for over 20 years and now they’re the man. They’re realizing the American dream,” McAuliffe said. “They’ve worked hard, made a good living and now they own the business that they managed and nurtured and grew over the decades.”
Gunther Jochl, resort proprietor, said the Lanes have made a valuable commitment to the community and play a significant role in the success of Sugar Mountain.
“Keith has been at Sugar Mountain Resort for a long time,” Jochl said. “They both do a fantastic job.”
McAuliffe said Keith and Shelly are good people with a strong work ethic who are deserving of their success.
“Hardworking, attention to detail — not showing up or not performing is just not in their lexicon,” McAuliffe said. “They’re just really dedicated, no excuses, can-do and did, and the reward now is that they are self-employed proprietors of both food services at the ski resort and golf club. Everyone is delighted to be a part of it.”
Avery Chamber Executive Director Melynda Martin Pepple said that chamber, along with its current and prospective members who were present for the recognition on Tuesday, was happy to be at the club to show support for the Lanes.
“We’re doing things together and helping each other, lifting each other up. It shows that our businesses are really growing,” Pepple said. “At these networking events, we try to encourage each other. It’s about bringing friends together and helping one another out.”
Now, as administrators of their own company, McAuliffe said the Lanes are branching out and bringing new ideas, better service and higher quality products to the resort.
“Now that the harness is off, if you will, Keith can use his own professional insight. He’s redesigning the food service line and the kitchen equipment and — now that it’s his operation and his capital and his incentive — he’s just taking it to a new level.”
Keith’s abilities were harnessed under the management of the corporation, McAuliffe said, and the Lanes can now improve the already high quality products being offered at Sugar Mountain.
“Now you’ve turned loose this young professional to his own devices and I think it will show … Once he was unleashed on his own, he wasn’t afraid to make the capital investments that maybe the institutional guys held off of from a bottom line standpoint,” McAuliffe sad. “He sees the bigger picture and is making improvements that will make for a better product, a happier customer and, in the end, a better business.”