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Keeping Access Open

Bald Eagle Lifts has found its niche, providing parts and services for older ski lift equipment
Lift parts sitting in snow

Situated in the picturesque Pacific Northwest, Bald Eagle Lifts strives to deliver common sense and resort-driven solutions to the many challenges facing the ski lift industry.

The company was founded in 2013 by Erik Berg in Boise, Idaho. After working with other industry experts, Berg recognized a need for a company that could service and provide universal parts for ski lifts; primarily orphan lifts in which the manufacturer has folded or lifts that are no longer supported by existing companies.

“Some of the equipment we provide parts for is 50 or 60 years old, and a lot of ski areas will no longer have the documentation anymore, which sometimes makes it difficult to know the best way to modify something or fix something” said Berg. “But we like to think of ourselves as the ‘NAPA Auto Parts for ski lifts,’ and we will always try and adapt whatever we can to find a solution that works for you.”

Where it would not be economical or efficient for larger ski lift companies to continue producing parts for outdated equipment, Bald Eagle Lifts has found a market for itself first by paying royalties on, outright buying or designing their own ski lift designs to build parts at scale, and then sell those to a variety of different ski areas. All Bald Eagle Lifts’ parts are designed, built and supported in the United States, and all components are resort tested and refined.

Over the years, Berg’s customers have come to trust and appreciate the simplicity of Bald Eagle Lifts’ solutions. The company has designed its products to be easy to implement (most of its electronic parts can magnetically mount to the available steel), which allows the  customer to do the installation themselves. This is especially important for smaller ski areas that wish to upgrade their equipment, but lack the funds to buy new. Bald Eagle Lifts has found a niche for itself, saving the customer money by retrofitting parts to make solutions that work, for less.

“What really sets us apart is that other businesses in this industry are often focused on entire installations or selling to bigger projects, but Bald Eagle Lifts is here as simply a parts supplier looking to help smaller operations trying to save money,” said Berg. “There are a lot of ski areas that are having problems with a 40-year-old T-bar and could never afford a new one, but they might be able to raise enough money to replace the parts so that it’s more reliable. And that’s where we come in by providing options and solutions for the customer, and letting them decide whether or not it makes sense for them.”

For a small operation based in the Rocky Mountain region, the reach of Bald Eagle Lifts is expansive. The company services ski lift equipment across the United States, from Alaska to New Jersey, and everywhere in between and there has been some interest in Bald Eagle Lifts north of the border, a market that Berg hopes to explore in the future.

“Wherever there’s a chairlift or a surface lift, there’s the possibility of putting parts on it,” said Berg. “We’ve been able to sell more parts each year than the year before, and are continuing to roll out more and more products. And most of our business comes by word of mouth, where we sell lift parts to one ski area because a maintenance manager used to work at another resort or someone saw us at a trade show. We are always looking for opportunities to get our stuff out in front of people and see what they think.”

Bald Eagle Lifts’ product line has grown substantially over the last decade and the company is seeking to build its product offerings. The company recently launched a surface lift product line, which services T-bars, platters and line machinery for surface lifts. Due to the increased demand, Berg has doubled the staff of his one-man operation and hired a team member to handle the increased design work, research and development, and prototyping.

“I’m pretty thrilled by how things have come along with the surface lift line we first launched last summer,” said Berg. “Originally our plans were to prototype the line and test it over the winter months, but we were approached by a customer who needed parts faster en mass, so we sent them out and had to test them on the fly to some extent. So far I can say that it’s worked out really well for everyone.”

Lift chair with magnetic stop gate in foreground
Bald Eagle Lifts’ magnetic stop gates install and work with no special tools, mounting brackets or mechanisms

One person’s boneyard is another person’s treasure trove. In addition to parts, Bald Eagle Lifts has evolved into an excellent source for used lift equipment, such as tower crossarms with lifting frames, line machinery, control systems and chairlift grips. If not for Berg claiming it and ensuring it is useful, this valuable equipment would have ended up in the scrap pile.

“I am the type of guy who loves saving old equipment from the junkyard, and we’re always keeping our ears open and trying to pick up surface lifts that we can test our stuff on, or adapt our stuff to work on,” said Berg. “Maybe the previous owner wasn’t able to find a home for it when they were upgrading and had no place to store it, we’ll step in and assess the condition, and then try to connect the equipment with customers who have a need.”

Looking ahead, Berg will continue building out Bald Eagle Lifts’ services so that the company can better meet the needs of ski areas across the country and be able to replace any and all individual parts on a wide selection of surface lifts. In the future, Berg also hopes to expand further into servicing the mechanical side of chairlifts and control systems for surface lifts.

“This is a great business to be in, and it’s pretty hard to complain when you’re doing your sales calls on mountain slopes and snow,” said Berg. “Plus, it’s really exciting to know that there’s kids learning how to ski on our equipment, and I can name several instances where if it weren’t for our parts or our equipment, the lift just wouldn’t be open anymore. In our own way, Bald Eagle Lifts is helping to improve access to the ski areas and is raising the next generation of skiers.”