A Little Time with Tom

As the snow is starting to fly on the mountain, Schweitzer is gearing up for another amazing winter season. Between all the meetings and planning sessions, I was able to sit down for a few minutes with Tom Chasse, Schweitzer’s CEO, to find out a little bit more about his thoughts on life in North Idaho, what keeps him sane running a weather dependent business, and where he sees Sandpoint heading in the future. Here are a few excerpts:

What’s your favorite sport: “Well… in all honesty, ice hockey. It’s a fantastic diversion for me. I don’t have to make decisions when I’m out on the ice. I’m just one of the guys and I get to play with two really great teams, one in Spokane and one in CDA. Hockey motivates me to stay fit too. I’m easily the oldest guy in the league so keeping up with my teammates really motivates my fitness – both mentally and physically.”

What’s your favorite run at Schweitzer: “That depends on the day - my go-to has to be Headwall. On powder days, when everyone is heading to the Triple or the backside, I can make 3-4 amazing laps through Headwall and still be back to my desk in an hour. Though… if I have more time, a run on Big Timber is a close second.” 

Biggest challenge being from the east coast and living in North Idaho: “Just getting used to the pace of life… it’s so slow! But that’s a good thing, really. Sometimes back east, we’d be faced with all kinds of challenges and people could be in your face wanting resolution NOW. People here are more reasonable and willing to listen. There’s less rushing. It’s awesome.” 

How do you balance work and home: “I feel like I finally have that figured out. I live about 50 minutes from the office and that distance gives me time to think and plan. In the morning, I check my calendar and email before I head out, then on the drive, I can plan out my day and the things I want to get accomplished. On the way home, I have time to decompress and think over things as well. This kind of balance is unique to my time at Schweitzer, I have to say. I’ve never had such a good balance as I do here. Again, I think this goes back to the pace of life we enjoy in North Idaho.”

What contribution to the local community are you most proud of: I think in my time here, we’ve really raised the awareness of Schweitzer nationally and that’s had a strong economic impact on the community. We’ve become advocates for the whole region, not just Schweitzer. I see it on a personal level with our destination wedding guests… many who have never been here before and they are blown away by the combination of the scenery, the vibe, the great people in town, and the overall friendless of our community. In my opinion, I feel like these efforts (to attract new visitors to the resort) really help our whole area get ‘on the map’ and people see what an amazing place this is. Those experiences help grow our tourism and the overall reputation of North Idaho.”

Who’s an example, in your opinion of a good neighbor in Sandpoint:  “McDuff’s. They get it. They understand service, the importance of tourism, the vibe in town. They are always welcoming, ready to engage their clients and so passionate about what they do. It’s a great example of what we strive to do on the mountain as well.” 

What’s your favorite place in Sandpoint: “Without a doubt, Lake Pend Oreille.”

Where do you like to escape to outside of Sandpoint: “The entire Northwest is incredible to explore. I never thought I’d get a chance to really know this part of the country and since being here these last 10 years, we’ve come to realize that there is almost too much stuff to go see. From Bend, OR to Montana, to Lake Louise in Canada… there is just so much so explore. It’s amazing.”

Ok… you need to name a new ski run right now, what would that name be: “Slapshot.”

This article originally appeared in the November issue of "Neighbors."