One might call Tyler LaMotte an overachiever.
The former professional snowboarder is now the chief brand officer at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort after taking an opportunity to live and work in a place that the well-traveled outdoor industry veteran said is unrivaled.
“There’s no place like this in the world,” he said.
To take the newly minted position at the resort, LaMotte followed a circuitous path that took him around the world working for some of the major outdoor companies. He started as an athlete in days that were “pre-X Games, pre-Olympics. But, as for many former professional athletes, injury truncated his career and forced him to reevaluate his priorities, he said.
Some athletes — whatever their sport — look for a clean break from their professional life. Others use the skills and connections they gained from their athletic ventures to carve a new path. LaMotte certainly fits the second description.
After leaving the competition realm he found himself with a wealth of esoteric knowledge that didn’t befit another industry. Outside skiing and snowboarding there aren’t many companies interested in technical terms like 3-layer waterproofing, forward lean and sidewall construction.
“You don’t know it at the time because you’re learning about product, and you’re also marketing in these things where you’re just trying to be an athlete,” he said.
In becoming a representative for Salomon and Bonfire, LaMotte toured northern California, immersing himself in the ski industry. Though he liked the work he had another interest: digital design.
This being the late ’90s and early 2000s, computers in the workplace weren’t ubiquitous. Rather than being tools people carried in their pockets and used every hour of the day in most white-collar jobs, computers were relatively new, so LaMotte found himself at the vanguard of an emergent trend that would come to dominate many aspects of professional life.
After finishing design school, which he attended at night, he started at a San Francisco design firm that pulled a contract for Swell.com, which become one of the top online retailers for surfing clothes. He even won a Webby award — an honor for excellence on the internet presented annually by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences — for the site.
“It was kind of my first big digital project,” he said. “I got to spend a year and half doing that. It was a super great learning experience but still connected to the action sports world.”
From there LaMotte’s career arc took an auspicious turn, setting him on the trajectory that brought him to the top marketing job at the resort. He was “headhunted” to return to Salomon and lead the company’s snowboard arm. Selling snowboards and boots was a bit different from designing websites, but it drew upon the skills he developed as a product rep at a scale that was larger by orders of magnitude. His stint at Salomon led to a few years at Adidas developing its snowboarding product line, then time at Patagonia, Apple and Keen.
As LaMotte gained a global perspective on business and marketing he began to see the power a company could have, not only to make money but to represent an ethos. Some customers identified with the products they bought not simply for their functionality but because of an intrinsic quality the brand encapsulated.
Like many transformations, that shift started with a book.
“I had read Yvon’s book, ‘Let My People Go Surfing,’ which kind of changed my perspective on business and sustainable business, and the values-led and purpose-led company,” LaMotte said. “I really just kind of fell in love with that philosophy.”
LaMotte has taken that experience into his new role at the resort, which is a reimagining of the former chief marketing officer position.
“His role is to protect the brand and show the direction that the resort is heading,” Social and New Media Manager Eric Seymour said. “Right now he is working on long-term strategy and some communications that are really trying to instill what the values of the company are.”
Seymour said the move to Jackson was a “dream come true” for LaMotte, who echoed that sentiment. LaMotte said that as his career path has led him through the upper echelon of outdoor companies, he has felt a pull to return to the mountainous landscapes that fueled his first career as a professional snowboarder.
From Patagonia headquarters in Ventura, California, to job postings in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, he and his wife, Molly — along with their Bernese mountain dog puppy, Scout — have inched closer to the mountains, finally finding the opportunity to live at the base of one the premier ranges in the world.
“It’s great to come back and be able to experience this place and get so close and be able to do all the things that we love to do,” he said. “One of the main draws and attributes was the fact that, you know, there’s only one Jackson Hole.”