Moonlight lays off six employees, Poole remains optimistic

As part of its reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and in an effort to trim costs, Moonlight Basin has laid off six employees.

“We’ve cut back about six employees which is as minimal as we could make it,” said Moonlight owner Lee Poole. “It’s tough. It’s tough for everybody. Our employees are our friends and we really appreciate them very much.”

Moonlight Basin filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November. Under the bankruptcy agreement company officials are working to restructure the company, Poole said.

The good news for the resort is it is coming off of its second best ski season ever and is on pace for a record-setting season this year, he said.

“Everything is up and running and we’re very excited about this season,” Poole said. “We’re entering this season very excited and the most season passes we’ve ever sold to date.”

Some of the employees who were laid off could come back for the winter as consultants, he said. These would be in addition to the more than 300 people they’ll bring on board for the ski season.

“We are going to be hiring for the winter operations about the same amount of people,” he said.

Moonlight has three primary office locations, at the resort, in Bozeman and in Ennis. They currently employee about 60 people, Poole said.

Like every business in the area, the economy has led them to do some additional belt tightening. It has changed the company’s vehicle policy and employees are being expected to take on some more work, he said.

“We’re doing everything a company would normally do to survive,” Poole said.

During court hearings late last fall, Moonlight Basin was able to secure funding for two ski seasons.

“We’ve got our financing set all the way through next ski season,” Poole said.

Last year turned out to be an excellent season, despite snow levels being about 70 percent of normal, he said. The snow the resort did get came at the right times: before Christmas, before President’s Day weekend and spring break.

“We got snow exactly when we needed it,” he said.

Moonlight Basin has more court hearings scheduled for this fall concerning its litigation against Lehman Brothers, which is the resort’s primary lender.

In the meantime, Poole and his staff are putting together a promotional campaign to recruit new capital for the resort.

Poole is positive about the future. Real estate sales at the resort are starting to pick up and there is continued interest in the year-round activities on the mountain.

“Right now we’re doing well.”

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