One might call it the perfect storm–“perfect” being a bit of a misnomer, of course. A recent, record-breaking winter storm in Jackson Hole blew down 17 power lines in fierce winds while multiple avalanches periodically blocked the roads into and out of the valley. This is the kind of winter storm that gets reckoned with in the history books, leading to a total power blackout in Teton Village and other areas of the valley for four and a half days, even as the snow kept coming and temperatures wiggled wildly, producing a dangerous mixture of snow melt freezing into ice, only to be layered under more snow again. The storm began on a Tuesday, and by Friday, Teton County had designated the county a disaster zone.
With 66 of the 86 properties the group manages for guests and out-of-state homeowners without power, the staff found themselves tested by an unprecedented care-taking challenge. However, the team did not miss a step—leaping into action and revealing their commitment to the company’s guiding values of integrity, excellence, and relationship-building.
A Team of Experts
“At the end of the day, it’s all about who you surround yourself with,” General Manager Kevin Kavanagh reflects. The Clear Creek Group has protocols in place for homes losing power, running water, or heat, but they had never executed all of them at once in such a large number of homes in three different regions throughout the valley.
“Time was of the essence,” he says. However, in situations where you’re dealing with multi-million dollar family assets, the team must respond in a measured and research-backed way rather than relying on knee-jerk reactivity. Each of the homes in the The Clear Creek Group’s portfolio is expertly crafted down to every last detail. Commensurate to those details of aesthetic and decor are details of security systems, snow loading, and plumbing that are all dangerously at risk during a multiple-day blackout. From the finishes to state-of-the-art electronic systems and priceless artworks, water and snow damage can be devastating to homes of this caliber. Handle with care, indeed.
Roughly 35 staff members, skilled and trusted plumbers, and HVAC experts–some flown in from out-of-state–tackled each home systematically. “Our experience helps out with a lot of stuff the typical caretaker wouldn’t think about,” Kavanagh explains. Clear Creek Group mobilized to shut down breaker boxes, thus preventing a power surge once power was restored. They conferred and dealt directly with out-of-state security companies to be sure that homeowners were not besieged with faulty alerts. Staff went into each kitchen, testing sinks and emptying fridges of anything perishable.
While Teton Village homes retained running water, the team were on hand to winterize residences North of Jackson that lacked it. This complex strategy involves blowing water out of pipes and replacing it with glycol, which requires an expert hand. The team also surveyed hot tubs at properties throughout the valley, digging deep into the best practices for the situation before making the final call on what to do. They also made sure that all protocol completed on each checklist was compliant with home insurance policies, doubly ensuring their clients’ investments.
Communication is Key
Meanwhile, staff at headquarters smoothly facilitated the emergency travel plans of current guests. This involved helping some families translate their Jackson Hole ski vacation into a Utah ski vacation instead. For others, it meant assisting with transfers into safe in-town accommodations and then re-booking flights out of town. All the homes had to be vacant during this time, representing a big disruption in one of the busiest periods of the year. At the same time, staff knew that President’s Day weekend was just around the bend and they worked to be sure that once everything came back online, business could resume at its usual brisk–and smooth–pace.
For those homeowners dotted around the country who may have been anxious for news about the welfare of their homes, Kavanagh sent a short email blast each day of the outage, informing folks about current information from Lower Valley Energy and the steps being taken. How you act in the face of adversity is one of the biggest indicators of providing top-notch service and care, Kavanagh stated. This is borne out by the responses received from guests and homeowners, which were overwhelmingly positive. Guests were so impressed, in fact, that despite this iteration of their Jackson Hole ski vacation running into an unexpected headache, most planned to return again. “You worry about life in New York and L.A., and we’ll worry about Jackson,” Kavanagh says. “We set out to give our homeowners peace of mind.”
One homeowner lauded the team’s “impressive response to a very challenging situation. It gives us out-of-state owners an extra sense of security.” Another thanked the entire staff for their “great service and communications on the power outage. You guys are the best!”
Tipping the Stetson
“There’s no ‘us versus them’ between departments,” Kavanagh says of The Clear Creek Group’s company culture. During an exciting time like this, “everyone respects one another and we all step in and help each other out.” With no damage incurred at any property when power returned on Saturday, the team truly had something to celebrate. The company threw a party to thank staff and raise a glass to a job well done. Kavanagh also made sure to thank all of the dedicated service providers who had become de facto team members for four days, working around the clock right alongside regular staff. From gift certificates to other extras, the management team want all of their excellent vendors to feel valued and appreciated for their efforts. It’s part of why The Clear Creek Group can consistently draw on the most talented plumbers, electricians, and other service professionals in Jackson Hole.
However, Kavanagh is the first to say that The Clear Creek Group wasn’t actually going above and beyond– this is the bar they’re reaching for every single day to ensure the company’s mission of providing the highest level of real estate and hospitality services through a single-minded commitment to excellence and meaningful relationships.