GILFORD — Greg Goddard, who began working at Gunstock Mountain Resort as a bartender nearly four decades ago and has served as general manager for 21 years, plans to retire in August 2020.
He learned to tend bar while attending Plymouth State College, where he graduated with a dual degree in management and accounting.
He was hired to work at the Powder Keg Pub at Gunstock for the 1981-82 ski season.
“I almost immediately fell in love with the industry and the people in the industry,” he recalled in a recent interview. “I really started to learn a lot about resort operations in general. I wanted to figure out a way to make a living out of it.”
Jobs at ski areas don’t typically pay much, and advancement can be difficult, particularly at smaller resorts.
The fall after his first ski season, he became a coordinator for weddings and special events. Then he became an administrative assistant, handling the books for a major expansion.
He became director of finance and administration in 1988 and general manager in 1998.
Goddard, 62, doesn’t know what he will do in retirement. He’ll have a year to decide before he actually steps down next summer.
“I’d love to be able to stay involved in the industry in some capacity,” he said. “I don’t know what that will look like, but I’m too active to not do anything. I certainly don’t want to do day-to-day operation of a resort.”
He said people ask him what he does after the ski season, not realizing that the job of general manager is year-round.
“It’s definitely a year-round grind now, especially with the summer season stuff,” Goddard said.
Under his leadership, Gunstock has expanded in many ways, including offering attractions when the snow has melted. The resort says it has “some of the nation’s longest and fastest zip lines and New England’s largest aerial tree obstacle course.”
In a news release, the resort lists other accomplishments under his tenure:
• Purchase of the Alpine Ridge property, adjacent to Gunstock Mountain Resort, in 1999.
• A $3.8 million expansion in 2003 with new snowmaking infrastructure, installation of the resort’s first high-speed lift and revitalization of the Pistol Lift complex.
• Expansion of beginner terrain, including a new four-passenger chairlift, expansion of night skiing terrain from 15 to 22 trails, and a state-of-the-art energy-efficient snowmaking system.
• A $2.8 million mountain coaster was added in 2016.
Belknap County owns the resort, and Goddard says he hopes that ownership structure stays in place.
“I hope it is sustainable over the long haul,” he said. “It has lots of detractors.
“I have fought a lot of battles over the years, but I hope it will stay the same. Time will tell.”
The present ownership structure allows Gunstock to retain a community feel, Goddard said.
“We’re able to do things for the community that a private operator could not do,” he said.
Parent-run organizations preside over ski racing, freestyle, adaptive sports and cross-country skiing.
“All are nonprofit and run by the people with a passion for those sports,” he said.
If a private entity were to own Gunstock, it would likely handle those sports in a different way, with more of an emphasis on generating profits instead of focusing on community outreach and inclusion, he said.
Bob Durfee, chair of the Gunstock Area Commission, praised Goddard’s leadership.
“Greg has been a steady hand over many years in a business that can be extremely volatile and unpredictable,” he said in a news release. “He possesses a keen understanding of finance and a deep knowledge of every aspect of resort operations.
“He’s willing to get his hands dirty if necessary, and he’s proven unafraid to make difficult decisions when required to manage the resort effectively and responsibly.”
Goddard will have plenty of time over the next year to celebrate accomplishments at the resort and reminisce with friends about the fun and oddities of working at a ski resort.
He provided a photograph of one unusual occasion. In the image, Goddard is wearing skis and officiating at a wedding on the Gunsmoke Trail at the resort on Christmas Eve 2000.
“A ski instructor and snowboard instructor wanted to get married,” he recalled.
As a justice of the peace, he had the credentials to perform the ceremony. The couple brought a few witnesses.
“Then, another ski instructor brought his class down to be the congregation. It was completely impromptu.”