In preparation for the Green Peak Expansion opening we spoke with Jerry Pendleton, President of SkyTrans Mfg., LLC, the man who built the first lifts at Waterville Valley Resort 50 years ago, and has been overseeing the new Green Peak Lift installation.
Born in Rhode Island in 1938, Jerry moved with his family to New Hampshire when he was 2 years old. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1960 with a degree in Dairy Science, and always thought he would work in the agriculture industry. This changed when Jerry, a married 21-year-old with one child, met O. D. Hopkins Inc. and accepted a job offer to work at Skyfair. Jerry traveled to Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy numerous times while being in the ski lift business, but to this day Waterville Valley Resort remains one of his most cherished destinations.
Today we will share quotes from our interview with Jerry Pendleton, a very professional and kind man with great sense of humor.
How did you get involved in lift construction?
O. D. Hopkins, Inc. was originally founded by O.D. Hopkins, he lived in Contoocook, NH. I also lived there, worked on the local farm, and that’s how I met him. O.D. Hopkins approached me with a proposal. He wanted me to help him run a very small Company. I was very young at the time – 21 years old. I thought about it and I decided to give it a try. I thought of it as a place where I could advance in the future. I ran several portions of the business. And then he had formed a Company called O.D. Hopkins Incorporated - it was the original Company.
What were your first projects at Waterville Valley Resort?
Our original work was the Installation of the four original chairlifts which were designed by Walter Stadeli Company from Switzerland. We also Manufactured all of the towers, tower crossarms, numerous other structures and various chair components. We built T-Bar in 1966, and a J-Bar in 1967. While working on these projects, the biggest challenge was that we were under a big deadline just like here with The Green Peak Expansion. It could have been very easily 1967 or 1968, but Tom Corcoran helped us a lot with pushing this project through. O.D. Hopkins and I had a pretty good relationship with Tommy, he enjoyed being around, he was a guy who could get people to do things and make things happen.
How many people did you helpto get to the top of the mountain?
The capacity of the lifts that we installed in the first two years of Waterville Valley Resort existence: each of the original four chairlifts had an hourly capacity of 960 skiers per hour, the Hopkins T-Bar has an hourly capacity of 600 skiers per hour, the Hopkins J-Bar has an hourly capacity of 300 skiers per hour. Today we are riding close to 2 million people per year on the stuff that we constructed and own.
What is the role of SkyTrans Mfg., LLC in the Green Peak Expansion project?
Green Peak Expansion is a very exciting project for us! SkyTrans Mfg., LLC has been involved in every segment of the installation project starting with the site engineering right up to concrete installation. This has included moving and installing all of the equipment, installing all concrete footings, redesigning and rebuilding the electrical controls, splicing the wire rope and the final testing of the lift.
How involved are your sons with the Green Peak Expansion project?
I have five sons. Four of my sons are actively involved in the Green Peak Construction Project. One of them, Matt, is the guy who is building the electrical panels from drawings. My son Dan is a 60% owner of SkyTrans Mfg., LLC. He was here when they took the wire rope off from the World Cup and has managed all the work at our factory. My son Jerry Jr. (the oldest) works in the shop, and my son John is the engineer who has done all the designs and drawings for the Green Peak Lift. My middle son James works in the zoo in Arizona. I am very proud of my sons continuing what I started 50 years ago.
Who else has been helping you to work on the Green Peak Expansion project?
Our General Manager Rich Combs has been the real leader of this project and has done a fantastic job managing all aspects of this project which is a big job. The names of the SkyTrans Mfg., LLC staff that have been involved in the Green Peak Project are as follows: CEO and President of SkyTrans Mfg., LLC – Jerry Pendleton; General Manager of SkyTrans Mfg., LLC – Rich Combs; Project Manager – Rich Combs; Engineering Manager – John Pendleton; Electrical / Structural Engineer – Carl Beverly; Production Manager of SkyTrans Mfg. LLC – Dan Pendleton; Install crew and Electrical Panel Builder – Matt Pendleton; Equipment Purchase and Parts Department – Jerry Pendleton, Jr.
We are very thankful to Jerry for sharing some great pictures from his archive. Have a look at the construction process at Waterville Valley Resort which was happening 50 years ago!