Owners of Little Switzerland buy Milwaukee County ski hill

By ALEX BELD - Daily News

July 23, 2017

The Schmitz Brothers LLC, owners and operators of Little Switzerland and Nordic Mountain ski areas, entered a purchase agreement and long-term lease with ROC Ventures to operate the ski hill at The Rock sports complex in Franklin.

The announcement made Tuesday explained the three brothers would not just take over the ski area, but work to improve it with a $500,000 investment. This will add a high-speed rope tow, update snowmaking infrastructure and the rental fleet, improve beginner terrain, and upgrade some of the facilities.

“As Ballpark Commons gets closer and closer to groundbreaking, we looked for a proven operator to solidify our ski hill offerings while we shift operating focus to other businesses,” owner of ROC Ventures Michael Zimmerman said in a news release. “Rick, Mike, and Dave Schmitz have a proven track record and plan to open more terrain and expand the scope of our snow park offerings.”

The Schmitz brothers have operated Nordic Mountain in Wild Rose, Wisconsin for 12 years and Little Switzerland in Slinger for five.

“We think the place has just a ton of potential,” Rick Schmitz said. He explained he and his brothers have been following The Rock for awhile and they like that it’s located in Milwaukee County.

The brothers will be offering a joint season pass between Little Switzerland and The Rock Snow Park at no extra cost, according to information released by Schmitz Brothers LLC.

“We expect a lot of two-way traffic with that,” Schmitz said.

The brothers will offer tubing, a terrain park and general skiing and boarding for families. They don’t, however, expect to re-open the bike park located at the hill in the immediate future, but haven’t ruled it out.

They are also working to determine how they will staff the ski area with a volunteer ski patrol.

Schmitz said some options include starting a new patrol or having one patrol between The Rock Snow Park and Little Switzerland. He explained he is hoping for some former local patrollers to step forward, similar to what happened when Little Switzerland was re-opened.

Editor’s note: Alex Beld is a non-paid volunteer with the ski patrol at Little Switzerland.