By the time the guests get to you, they’ve already been through a lot. “I’m a positive person and in this job you have to have a positive attitude,” said Mariko Smith, a rental technician at Mount Washington.
She’s talking about the process of outfitting guests with rental equipment, adjusting skis and snowboards, explaining how the equipment works and providing demonstrations of safe use. “By the time the guests have reached the tech bench, they’ve waited in line, they’ve driven on the highway with their kids, and many of them are scared and have no idea what they’re doing,” said Mariko.
That’s why being positive is so important. While the experienced skiers know exactly what they want, the beginners are looking to you for guidance, and many of them are nervous. “It’s all about having a positive attitude,” said Mariko. “Everyone’s there to have fun skiing and snowboarding.” Part of your job as a rental technician, is making sure guests new to the sport have an exciting and positive experience.
Mariko started work in the ski industry at the bottom rung when she was 17. “I had a part-time job in the cafeteria and later moved up to rentals.” After a two-year stint at Mount Seymour as a rental technician, she returned to the island and became rental supervisor at Mount Washington. Now she’s “head technical”, in charge of overseeing the other rental technicians.
People who want to pursue a career as a rental technician should ask the rental manager when the technical certification course starts prior to the beginning of the ski season. The course is put on by the binding manufacturer and teaches rental technicians the finer points of adjusting bindings according to a person’s height, weight, age and ability.
“Once you have the knowledge, you can work at any mountain,” said Mariko. Finding a job isn’t especially difficult because turnover is high from season to season. “People’s working visas run out or they leave to do tree planting. We hire tons of new people every year and Mount Washington usually does a recertification for the techs midway through the season at the end of February.”
Mariko says the job’s a fun one with plenty of perks, from free lift passes to staff parties. “You meet tons of people from all over the world, and everyone’s there to do a good job and have a good time.”
While technical knowledge is important for success as a rental technician, it’s more about being a nice person, being flexible, and making the rental experience good for the guests. “Customer service is the best skill to have because these are the first time people who are going to be coming back and supporting the ski industry in the long run,” says Mariko. The rental technician plays an important role in keeping the skiing industry strong and vibrant.