Tuesday, August 11, 2015, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Three weeks have passed since the owners of Saddleback declared they will close the ski area if financing for a new quad chairlift cannot be procured immediately, but no official decision has been released.
On July 20, 2015, the Berry family announced they had two weeks to place an order for a replacement for the Rangeley double chairlift. On July 31, 2015, a follow up was posted on the Saddleback Facebook page, saying they "believe we will have a yes or a no answer by mid next week." On August 10, a post on the Saddleback Facebook page stated, "we are still working on an answer."
Meanwhile, according to county records, on August 4, 2015, Faith Anne Berry loaned Saddleback, Inc. $48,000. It is not known if this is an operational bridge loan or part of a down payment for a financing package.
The Rangeley Double is a 1963 Mueller lift modified with a new Doppelmayr-CTEC drive in 2004. The drive terminal was placed on the market for $200,000 in June, and the entire lift for $350,000 in July. The ownership reported that $3 million is needed for a new quad, and that they were hoping to have an answer from lenders during the first week in August in order to place a lift order in time for a 2015 installation.
Heirs to a large insurance company, Bill and Irene Berry purchased the Rangeley ski area and thousands of acres surrounding it for a reported $8 million in 2003, following an announcement from prior owner Donald Breen that it would close. Two new quad chairlifts were installed in subsequent years in conjunction with a major base lodge expansion. The Oquossoc Cove Marina was added to the fold in 2009.
After obtaining is B.S. in civil engineering from Lehigh University in 1955, M.S.T. in biology-geology from Colby College in 1966, and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Kansas in 1970, Archie "Bill" Berry Jr. joined the faculty of the University of Maine at Farmington. A longtime Saddleback skier, Berry purchased a condo near the ski area in the early 1990s and retired from UMF in 1996. Berry's son Mark worked at Sugarloaf and ran Titcomb Mountain ski area (to which Bill Berry made significant contributions).
In 1971, the U.S. Investment Corporation was founded, which would include Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company and US Underwriters Insurance Company. On August 8, 2000, Berkshire Hathaway acquired the U.S. Investment Corporation for an estimated $160 million in stock, mainly transferred to the extended Berry family.
On July 28, 2003, Saddleback, Inc. and Saddleback Land & Timber Corp. were incorporated in the State of Maine. Bill Berry, his wife Irene Berry, and their seven children soon took ownership of the 8,000 acre Saddleback tract via their corporations.
Since 2005, Saddleback has entered into multi-million dollar financing agreements with UnitedKinfield Bank, Camden National Bank, Skowhegan Savings Bank (via Finance Authority of Maine), and Coastal Enterprises Inc.
The Berry family placed the ski area on the market in 2012.
In recent years, members of the Berry family have loaned money to both corporations.
In May 2014, the Berrys sold 1,750 acres of land to generate funds.