Liko Smith & the RoK at Sugar Loaf, The Saga Continues


Benny West of Michigan Boarder was recently approached about the opportunity do a follow up to his original interview with Liko Smith. The focus of Benny’s questions this time around were to address what he felt were the most important lingering questions to the many people following this dramatic ordeal.  Ideally, he intended to either put all doubts to rest or to call bullshit once and for all and get back to reviewing snowboard gear and promoting Michigan shreds. Whether or not either of those two things were accomplished is for you to decide, but either way here is something to gnaw on.

Liko Smith & The RoK at Sugar Loaf
Part 1 | Part 2

So… why do you refuse to furnish an undeniable article of proof of ownership? That would just almost completely end all the gossip.

I have nothing to prove Benny, if someone doesn’t believe that I own it then that’s on them. I have the ownership and that’s all that’s needed for me to feel confident in moving forward. Do you see Donald Trump running around showing off his land titles and deals,..we issued a release and that’s proof enough.  No, a request like that from the public is like asking to see my Social Security Card. Not relevant to opening Sugar Loaf.

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Your public track record as far as these projects are concerned aren’t very promising. If indeed you do own it what makes this time around different?

I will admit the first time I attempted the purchase of Sugar Loaf it was somewhat chaotic. Regardless of what happened its all history now it’s time to live and learn. I did not have control of Sugar Loaf at the time. Now I have 100% control and I am exercising that control as we speak. I see everything 110% clear as day right now, there are no muddied waters like last time- I see the future of Sugar Loaf Mountain completely re-opened as The RoK at Sugar Loaf. The Words First Snowboarders Mecca.

I am not going to give up on this property, and I’m not going  away this time- no matter what happens, what is said, what is done or what is thought by anyone. It’s time to put aside petty differences and to get on with the mission of re-opening Sugar Loaf Resort as The RoK at Sugar Loaf by November 27, 2014.

Do you feel like you at a point where you can divulge more specific information about what stage you’re at in the development?

Yes, Dave Drews from Blue Lakes Consulting and Chris Grobbels from Grobbels Environmental did a great job in wrapping up preliminary inspections in a short time period. What I’m doing now is drawing a straight line of action from the starting point today to the ending point on November 27, 2014. Sorting out the roles for the construction crews, designers, snow makers branding, launch marketing ext. and then organizing each group into a cohesive force of action to get The RoK open on time. The key is to streamline the entire operation from the very beginning, because things will always be much tougher than we thought and much more complicated than we imagine. The map is NOT the terrain, we have to understand the terrain and then draw a map on top of it- that’s what’s happening. Mission planning.

Got any updates just for us?

  1. Sugar Loaf Visioning Sessions, of 2009, being incorporated into The RoK Plan- I received an email from Trudy Galla at the County Planning Dept. this week. Apparently there were several visioning sessions organized in 2009  for the Sugar Loaf site. I had asked for minutes of those sessions and I am going to study them to see what elements can be incorporated into our master plan for The RoK at Sugar Loaf. We’re much more collaborative than people may think. The RoK will definitely be a reflection of the needs of the community and Snowboarders.
  2. Retaining The Lifts – I’ve decided to try and keep the lifts at all costs. Enter one of the most credible lift inspectors in the Midwest, Jan Leonard.  Over the last week, we’ve analyzed and come to the conclusion that the lifts may possibly be repairable. Great news for the team. A formal report is forthcoming soon on exact costs, and scope of work., this will give us some much needed time savings for the November opening but most importantly, we can save the distinct look and heritage that has become Sugar Loaf. SMI is also working on a snowmaking analysis proposal that we’ll be receiving soon in order for SMI to work alongside Jan Leonard. These guys can get it done. I know it.
  3. Sewer issues – I spoke with Ed Flies, the owner of the sewer facilities for Sugar Loaf at length, and explained my full intention to re-connect to the primary sewer facility. I advised him that I would also consider purchasing the Sewer facility at a fair price. This week, I received the preliminary proposals on both options. I’m elated man.
  4. Television and Online Media launch – We’re creating media partnerships that are going to inspire a buzz unlike any other Resort opening. “Business as Usual” will not open Sugar Loaf in 12 months. Expect some cool announcements coming soon.

NOTE : Are there major challenges? Of course- but it’s our determination that makes the The RoK team different. The RoK at Sugarloaf is literally and figuratively 500x larger AND 100x more complicated than THE BLOCK ever was…between lifts, terrain park, hotels, restaurants, townhomes, golf courses, horse stables, music concert series, nightclubs, annual marathons, corporate retreats, mountain biking, RV Parks, etc…there are 20 plus businesses being planned at one time. It’s like managing a small town and it takes a massive amount of thought in order to give everything a priority and then organizing them so they can be profitable; but also focus them all into one brand message (serving snowboarders in the winter and families in the summer). I plan to sublease many parts of The RoK at Sugar Loaf. This will bring opportunities to some locals that are life changing. These small businesses will get the support of the mountain, the resort and the marketing team– we will be a compilation of successful partners serving one customer. We’ll be sending out RFP’s on the partnership opportunities once the Crawl Phase ends. Fix the place first.

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Since our article we have been contacted by ex-associates of yours…ex-partners and professional snowboarders, all of them with a similar intention; to warn Michigan about you. Why don’t you answer question one and kill it all now?

Funny. I own the mountain, now what?

I’m at peace with the partners that matter… and to be honest, I don’t involve myself in trivial matters of the past. If people want to follow gossip, rumors and innuendo. The more they talk, I guess, the more exposure for Sugar Loaf. Life is a positive journey forward not grasping onto old negativity. That behavior will only beget negativity and to be totally honest – I’m over it. Okay- it’s true; I’m human, I have a few whiny ex partners and twice as many ex-girlfriends. I live life at full speed and I don’t put up with punks which is why my friends love me and my enemies fear me…but even dumb things I do work out; one of them is how Rob Dyrdek and I became partners. He walked up to me at an Underground Nightclub in Vegas and said “I hear you like to knock people out”….I said- “Yes- I do”…he said “Want to be partners?”…we’ve been friends ever since. We even did an episode together on Fantasy Factory (he is an amazing business man by the way) it made fun of my legal problems and the fact that I closed down Big Bear…(which he was my partner in). A year later, we were going to create an all suite hotel brand across from the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas but the hotel company backed out on the licensing terms at the last minute (stupid- they went BK 6 mo. later). The point I’m making is that “good” partners stand by you and you stand by them. That’s life. Rob never complained about the closure of THE BLOCK…the only thing he ever said to me was.”That’s just business man”…a true friend to have in life and in business. I’ve made millions, lost millions. I take full responsibility either way. Men don’t’ change, they learn, you can’t learn without mistakes.
Focus on the positive.
There are 3 things you can count on:

  1. I am the owner of The Sugar Loaf Resort.
  2. I am going to open The RoK at Sugar Loaf on November 27, 2014.
  3. If it gets torn down, then tear me down with it.

Ha ha, I mean homie everyone says the property is for sale and I understand there is a group working on the purchase secretly. I really wish you could hit me off with something. I mean as of right now I could put an offer in on Sugarloaf myself.  I just don’t understand.  I am not a real-estate guy. I just snowboard, but from what I can tell there is nothing down on paper and that’s what everybody is going at your supporters with. I mean give me some ammo.

I’m only telling you this because you’re a snowboarder…and you used the word “ammo”. I don’t leave my squad members firing blanks at the enemy. So I will break my own rule this once.

I paid $6.220M for Sugar Loaf.

I have a $1M “Hard” Deposit with the Seller (non-refundable).

I have Seller financing of $5.220 Million.

I raised the price to $8.720 Million. I am putting a minimum of $2.5M of cash into the project.

If a buyer wants to takeout my position, they can call me. Otherwise, let me work in peace.

I am the owner of Sugar Loaf.

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4 Responses to "Liko Smith & the RoK at Sugar Loaf, The Saga Continues"

  1. david_z  November 9, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    So pretty much my speculation was on point… I honestly do hope it works out for everyone up there and for Michigan snowboarding in general. I just wish it was going down differently.

    • BennyWest  November 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      I dont know? Probably, I also hope this turns out to be a good thing.

      • david_z  November 9, 2013 at 4:57 pm

        ahhh balls… I forgot the “http://” in the link and it’s busted. anyways yeah I figured there was something like this going on, where the previous owner(s) are still pretty intimately involved. They may not be “active” partners but they’re financing it so they’re still involved one way or another. Good work on this though!!

  2. tom_z  December 29, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    that place is going to be epic

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