Local News
October 8, 2015

From fun to big business: The HMM Killington connection

By Karen D. Lorentz

This summer and fall, Killington has hosted two events put on by Human Movement, Inc. (HMM).

In July, the Dirty Girls Mud Run, an event owned and operated by HMM, attracted some 5,000 participants and spectators. This weekend Human Movement brings the excitement of an inaugural Oktoberfest to the resort.

These national caliber events are part of a strategy to bring more guests to Killington during the “off season” so as to become a more active and popular four-season destination resort. The $3.5 million Snowshed Adventure Park that debuted this summer and plans for future attractions and mountain biking expansion are also part of the plan to attain the resort’s goal of attracting 45,000+ additional visitors by summer 2019.

Killington linked up with Human Movement, a presenter of active entertainment and events, through their mutual parent, Powdr Corp. As the owner of eight ski resorts, Woodward action sports camps and progression centers, and the Outside Television network, family-owned Powdr focuses on ski area operations and active lifestyle sports. In a move that officials said would help further diversify Powdr’s portfolio and expand its summer activities, events, and other programming at resorts, the company acquired the company formerly known as Human Movement Management, in March 2015, renaming it Human Movement, Inc.

Noting Killington’s “focus on active lifestyles and providing awesome outdoor adventures,” Communications Manager Michael Joseph commented that Human Movement and Killington have complementary specialties that make them good business partners. “We can provide an amazing venue any time of year, have a ravenous fan base that loves pushing themselves and trying new things, and Human Movement is the best in the business at active entertainment. That translates to our looking forward to hosting more sporting type events as well as festivals.”

That compatibility in focus and passion led Human Movement founder Jeff Suffolk to join the Powdr family.

The route to Powdr

Jeff Suffolk started Human Movement Management® in 2009 with a group of like-minded people who spent their weekends having fun, from mountain biking to drinking beer.

“We had no official work hours; we’d show up in yoga pants and board shorts with our dogs in tow. Most afternoons, we poured beer from a kegerator and hashed out new ideas while reciting lines from ‘The Big Lebowski,’” Suffolk told Inc. Magazine for a 2014 profile of his company when ranked at 267 in the top 500 rankings of fast growing companies.

That admission might not seem in keeping with a three-year growth rate of 1,724 percent and 2013 revenue of $9.1 million, but then Suffolk didn’t count on his Louisville, Colorado, company, which was begun in a spirit of fun, growing to almost 100 employees and 250 events a year.  But grow it did.

Q&A with Jeff Suffolk

Mountain Times: How did you start the company?

Jeff Suffolk: We saw a gap in the fitness industry between the ultra core athlete and those that were looking to get off the couch and we set out on a mission to program America’s weekends.

MT: What services did the company provide at first?

JS: We created events (and still do) and at our core we are event junkies with carpenter backgrounds who thrive on creating unforgettable experiences.

MT: Why/how did HMM grow so fast? Did you expect that?

JS:  We have a saying that passion eats strategy for breakfast and we have a lot of passionate people here. We weren’t planning on being one the fastest growing companies in the US, but with my team, it didn’t surprise me because we are passionate.

MT: Were there challenges of dealing with that growth?

JS:  There wasn’t a manual for hyper-growth companies so figuring it out in real time was a challenge, but thankfully we have an incredible talent pool that helped us successfully navigate those waters.

MT: How did HMM come to be acquired by Powdr?

JS:  It was a random June afternoon and I received a phone call from Wade Martin, who happened to be one of my idols in the industry, looking to do some type of joint venture. I had written a magnum opus of the future of the event industry, which was based on proprietary real estate and proprietary events. Powdr answered the question of finding proprietary events around North American. It was a perfect marriage.

MT: What is your role now?

JS:  CEO of HMM

MT: Have HMM goals changed or just expanded to include the ski resorts as venues?

JS: The reason why we joined Powdr was to create proprietary events and we are launching monthly new events at ski resorts.

MT: Do you foresee Killington hosting more HMM events or festivals? Any ideas on what they might be or suggestion of events that could work there?

JS:  We see an unbelievable amount of opportunity in Killington. It is one of the most iconic resorts in North America, the only challenge we have is narrowing what events to pick.

Accomplishments bode well for Killington

What might lie in store for Killington in the way of events that will help it reach its summer goal of more guests might be gleaned from a look at Human Movement’s past accomplishments.

The team led by Suffolk has been producing some of North America’s largest running races, beer festivals, triathlons, mud runs, and outdoor events. Bt the end of 2015 his team will have directly managed over 100 events in the United States and Mexico while hosting millions of participants and spectators.

Publicist Justine Spence explained that the HMM team is involved in event planning, development, sponsorship, marketing and on-site production. “No matter the challenge or location, HMM is capable of making large-scale event ideas a reality,” she said.

She further explained that in 2012, the company was asked to expand the event calendar for the rapidly growing Dirty Girl Mud Run series. Similarly, the Color Run, which she said is the World’s largest running series, has requested the same service. HMM took the Color Run concept and grew it from one event to 100 stops. Using the network Suffolk created, the Color Run concept went on to Australia and Asia. In short order, each series had permits in over 60 North American cities and there was a contract to produce 11 Color Run events in Australia. Human Movement has owned the Dirty Girl Mud Run since August 2014 with over 900,000 having participated in the past five years, she said. (HMM has run DG since 2012, but didn’t acquired it August 2014.)

Human Movement also owns (since 2010) and operates the annual Denver Oktoberfest, now in its 46th year. This weekend Killington will become the first Powdr Resort to debut an Oktoberfest.

Additionally, the HMM team produces popular events such as the Ugly Sweater Run, the Zombie Run, 106 West Triathlon, Rocky Point Triathlon, and over 40 other independently owned events throughout the world.

Jeff Alexander, Killington’s events and sponsorship manager, described the collaboration with HMM as shared management and noted the resort “works with HMM on a logistical basis to produce an event. Killington is a stage for festivals, concerts, adventure running, and other events. They tailored the Denver Oktoberfest to the Killington site and community,” Alexander said, noting he is already working on more events with HMM for next summer. With this weekend’s Ski Swap Sale, the Killington (Up &) Down Roll (bike race relay) Oct. 11, and the Oktoberfest activities, Killington boasts a full schedule that will help fill beds and restaurants in the community, he added.

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