KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Gearing up for a busy summer in Glacier National Park in just a matter of a few months has been a big challenge for Marc Ducharme, but being the general manager of the Glacier Division for Xanterra Parks and Resorts also comes with promising opportunities.
"It was a great career opportunity for me, a big step up," Ducharme said. "The sky is the limit. We have all kinds of different businesses."
While Xanterra is widely known for its National Park Service concession services, the company also operates Ohio State Parks facilities, golf courses, resorts, adventure tourism businesses and a cruise line.
"Our company is definitely on an aggressive acquisition path," Ducharme said. Last year, the company won Glacier National Park's main concessions contract, which had long been held by Glacier Park Inc.
Ducharme, 38, was brought on board in December, and the few months since then have been spent preparing to operate five lodging facilities in the park, along with retail, food and beverage outlets and the park's iconic fleet of red buses.
Ducharme is tailored for the task.
Raised in Ft. McMurray at the extreme northern reaches of Alberta, Ducharme has been working with GPI since 2008, managing properties such as Lake McDonald Lodge, and then working as GPI's director of sales.
Prior to that, he worked for 10 years with Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, starting in Banff and ending at a Fairmont resort on Hawaii's Big Island.
Ducharme previously graduated with a degree in hotel management from Cambrian College in Ontario.
After starting with Xanterra, Ducharme had limited time to accomplish a long to-do list.
"We're a startup essentially. We had no infrastructure, a small staff and a very tight deadline," he said.
At the top of the list was the need to establish a suitable headquarters, a laundry and warehouse facility and a storage and maintenance facility for the red bus fleet.
A building that once was occupied by a grocery store will be the headquarters, probably by July 1. The building is being refinished and refurnished, and Xanterra's operations are temporarily housed in a former bank building on Nucleus Avenue.
The old Pamida store will serve as the laundry and warehouse facility, and Ducharme is still searching for property in the Columbia Falls area to build a red bus storage and maintenance facility.