Lunch with Eddie Wood

Eddie Wood, Mt. Seymour ski resort | BCBusiness

Eddie Wood, the head of North Vancouver’s Mt. Seymour ski resort, has always been in front of the crowd. Today, he’s reaping the rewards of his prescience 

If his ruddy, snow-kissed cheeks are anything to go by, Eddie Wood’s lungs are filled with nothing but pure mountain air at today’s lunch.

Being fresh off the slopes for meetings must be one of the best perks for a ski-resort owner, and Wood tries to “sneak out” onto the runs on Mt. Seymour as often as possible. “I love it, but it has to be quick during the week when I’m more administrative; I’m more operational on weekends,” the resort’s president and general manager says as we tuck into typical ski sustenance—chili—at the resort’s Rock Chute Inn.

In 1984 Wood’s “entrepreneurial” parents bought the 81-hectare site. While the 45-year-old says there was never any pressure, he knew he always wanted to run the resort. “My dad was in the fish business so we had no real knowledge of this industry except through the people who worked here and the fact that we had skied here since we were knee-high to a grasshopper,” the West Vancouver resident explains.

After studying business administration and management at BCIT, Wood went on to learn through the “challenging times of the ’80s and early ’90s,” trying to figure out a model for a business that depended on the weather and focused on skiing, a sport then in decline. The advent of snowboarding was possibly the most important piece of good timing in the hill’s history.

“We had no idea how big it would become, but what intrigued us was simply the amount of interest,” continues Wood, who himself switches between one plank and two. With a nod to Vancouver’s alignment with the skateboarding culture of California, Wood saw snowboarding’s importance and embraced it while other resorts pushed it away. “We learned a lot, knew the group who was pioneering it and saw that they were putting the fun back into the sport,” he says of the Seymour Kids, which included globally recognized pros Devun Walsh and Kevin Sansalone.

Soon Seymour was at the vanguard of snowboarding and international magazines were shooting here—both for its access to a backcountry feel and jumps such as the legendary City Booter, with its stunning city backdrop. These days, both snowboarders and twin-tip skiers ride the terrain parks’ specially designed boxes and rails, including the entire Wood family: wife Alison and sons Ryan, 15, and 13-year-old Andrew. This season has also seen the arrival of the high-speed Mystery Peak Express quad chair, a $5-million upgrade that’s been on Wood’s wish list since he took over.

For the past decade, Wood’s summer months have been equally as busy. Through his subsidiary company, Sea to Sky Park Services Ltd., he runs BC Parks’ campgrounds throughout the Sea to Sky corridor and Fraser Valley. On his own time he waterskis while vacationing at the family cabin at Shuswap Lake.

Last year, the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce named him the city’s “Business Person of the Year,” although he humbly says that’s “really for the efforts of the team.” Staff numbers have increased from 300 to 400 under his tenure and Wood believes they are central to his business mantra: “The most important thing I have learned is to be present with the operation. I have a really qualified team surrounding me, but I like being present to show support and to be a part of the progression.”

After all, Wood is acutely aware that this is a family business. “It’s always been really important for me to have earned it and not to have just been given it,” he stresses. “I certainly feel lucky.”

Eddie Wood’s favourites

1. “Every month we take out our supervisors to the Narrows Pub (1970 Spicer Rd., North Vancouver; I always have a dark beer like Guinness, because it reminds me of an incredible wedding I went to in Edinburgh 10 years ago. It was like drinking velvet there.”

2. “The best spot for a cup of mild coffee with cream has to be Bean Around the World (1151 Mt. Seymour Rd., North Vancouver; at the bottom of Mt. Seymour. They do a great job and it’s a great connecting point for me to come down the mountain and meet someone coming across town.”

3. “My wife and I often relax over a meal at The District (13 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver; on Lonsdale. My favourite meal is onion soup and beef carbonade—tasty, comforting and fulfilling after a day outdoors. I love how Lonsdale has transformed so much in recent years.”