Zeeks’ co-founder Tom Vial and a few buddies, including Zeeks’ franchisee Steve Sandberg (Kirkland/Bellevue locations), recently took off for a destination known and remote. In this case, the Chatter Creek Mountain Lodges, which are located about three hours northwest of Calgary. That is, three hours by helicopter, in normal conditions. This year, however, the cloud ceiling was too low to fly a bird in, so the crew instead rode a bus for three hours, and were then ferried in by a CAT for another two hours when roads had become obsolete.
Nobody complained on the bus or in the CAT. When the weather is too bad to fly the bird, that simply means snowflakes are flying, en masse. And they were.
Chatter Creek’s operation offers skiers 58,000 acres of options, from alpine bowls to stunning glaciers and endless tree runs. It is a powder skier’s dream set-up – steep, untouched lines in dry, fluffy snow combined with good food, good beers, (usually) good company and a super comfy bed to rest your exhausted head at the end of the day.
Tom and Steve are Chatter Creek regulars. It is a place where they can get their powder skiing stoke on in one of the world’s premier destinations during the day, but also then truly unwind at night, in a place uniquely remote and quiet. For Steve, it offers up a chance to show off his wicked powder skiing skills. Sandberg is, according to Tom, who is no slouch himself on the hill, “a bad ass.”
“The guy is good. Like, ski video good,” says Vial.
Steve’s relationship with Zeeks Pizza began as the result of a friendship with Tom and co-founder Doug McClure. Sandberg ultimately fell in love with the Zeeks brand as he got to know the company, its culture and its players better and saw ownership as a great way to fuel his lifestyle.
“You know, it’s funny because me becoming a Zeeks’ franchisee all happened because of a trip Doug, Tom and I took to BC’s Red Mountain for some serious powder skiing and beer drinking back in 2004,” says Sandberg. “Eventually during the trip, I let it be known that I really, really wanted to own a Zeeks franchise. I was tired of working in the boring, stodgy finance world and saw way more promise in pizza. Tom and Doug made it all happen.”
Amongst the steeps and couloirs at Chatter Creek Steve completely at home in his role playing powder pace car for the crew. The snowfall at Chatter Creek during this year’s trip was epic and deep — too deep to be stressed out, too deep to hold the weight of any of the world’s worries, and too deep to not dig in and rip it up. 15 years after Red Mountain, the Zeeks’ crew still leaves it all on the hill on a powder day.
“Steve gets after it,” said Zeek’s President Dan Black. “He skis and windsurfs in a manner we all aspire to and does it all while being totally kick ass on the business side. It is not a coincidence that he is able to run two franchises and continue to meet and exceed expectations year after year. The man is a beast.”