Leitner-Poma to build state-of-the-art gondola in Vail

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As the largest ski resort in the united states Vail Mountain says it's always looking for new ways to make the experience better for customers.

This year the resort is looking to create a state-of-the-art gondola to open next season. The company it chose to build this new lift is local.

When Jeremy Celayeta graduated college, he didn't want to go far.

"I really wanted to work in an industry that I love to play in as well," he said.

Three years ago, he began working at Leitner-Poma in Grand Junction.

"Being from Grand Junction, I was looking for a company that had international ties and allowed me to travel to places I'd never seen before," Celayeta said.

The company that hired him allowed him to do just that, and it's been doing very well as of late.

"We'll see how the sale season goes. This is a big step in the right direction to hire more people, I will say that. [But] I can't commit to hiring more people," Leitner-Poma president Rick Spear said.

Vail Mountain recently announced it would use Leitner-Poma to build its new state-of-the-art gondola.

"We're excited to work with Leitner-Poma because we've worked with them in the past. They're also based right here in Colorado in Grand Junction, so they're not only close by, but we can probably put Coloradans to work," Vail Mountain senior manager of communications Liz Biebl said.

Leitner-Poma's president hopes this project, along with others, will allow him to keep his current staff employed and possibly even provide new jobs in the future.

"[Vail is] a Colorado company, we're a Colorado company. Down here in Grand Junction, we're going to do the design, the purchasing, the fabrication with local people from here," Spear said.

His company has already started designing the project, and construction is expected to start close to March.

"We're doing design work right now upstairs in engineering, laying out the profile," Spear said.

It's expected to be the first of its kind in North America. The cabins will carry ten passengers each.

"[The cabins have] heated seats, it's got a Kenwood radio in each cabin, it's got Wifi access," Spear said.

"The ride time will be less. It will go from currently nine minutes from the Vista Bahn Express down to 7.5 minutes with the new gondola," Biebl added.

Leitner-Poma has built around the world, but staying close to home is also important.

"[Powderhorn] a local ski area, it's a good place to ski and the more we can do for them, the better," Spear said.

Since the company has been talking to Powderhorn Resort, maybe we'll see Leitner-Poma even closer to the Grand Valley in the near future.

Construction of the gondola in Vail is expected to be done by opening day for the 2012-13 season.

Vail will celebrate its 50th anniversary on November 16, and says this gondola will be an early birthday present.

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