My family and I are taking some time off from the hustle and bustle to unwind in the beautiful Laurentian Mountains. It’s a stunning place to be this time of year as the fall season fills the mountains with shades of red and gold. And I truly relax in the cabin we stay at. On about the second day here, it’s as if I can feel my heart rate slowing. It has that peaceful and calming effect very few places do.
While here, I read morning and night, and during the afternoon go for an intense run up the mountains and through the colorful forest. It’s on that daily run when I’m reminded of the very sobering dangers of complacency and taking things for granted.
You see, the mountains I run up were once one of the most prominent ski resorts in the region, visited by enthusiasts from all over the world. Only a couple decades ago the resort hotel was among the most exclusive in the province with its stone walls and perfect view of the lake nearby. Generations of families would come here with their children – it was that kind of place. Unfortunately, those vibrant days are long gone. Today, at the bottom of the mountain rests a broken down chair lift covered in graffiti and rusting chairs piled on the ground. The hotel is still up and running, but its parking lot is sparsely filled and the building is dated, and in need of maintenance. The town, which relied heavily on the ski resort for economic activity, is reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow. Not too much going on, with several storefronts still vacant since the last time I visited almost 18 months ago. Although still naturally beautiful, this place has seen better days.
So what happened to this historic ski resort? Apparently, several years ago the resort owner (which is an investment group) made a big decision and attempted to expand their business without doing their homework and taking basic preparatory steps. They decided to shut down the main ski hill in favor of building a high-end seniors living condo community. The idea sounded quite grand. It was to consist of a beautiful building on top of the mountain that overlooked the lake. No doubt it probably would have been a profitable endeavor.
It was rumored the group assumed that given their past success and standing in the community they would be granted approval to build their seniors community. They were terribly wrong in that assumption. To date, that approval has yet to happen; and the ski resort, from the group’s own doing, has been dwindling for years as its main mountain is no longer in operation.
Moral of the story here: Take nothing for granted as an entrepreneur and always validate your assumptions. Robin Sharma wrote “nothing fails like success.” In the investment world there’s a standard caveat in every disclosure statement: past success is not indicative of future results.