A snowboarder on a recent
day at Little Switzerland. The recreation area underwent
a multimillion-dollar renovation and reopened for the
2012-13 season, said co-owner Rick Schmitz.
Little Switzerland is again welcoming visitors
to the slopes, now boasting nearly a decade of operation
under its current management.
The ski resort is one of the oldest in the Midwest,
having originally opened in 1941, according to Rick
Schmitz, one of the co-owners.
In 2011, Schmitz Brothers LLC purchased the resort,
which had closed in 2007. It reopened for the 2012-13
“We grew up skiing at Little Switzerland. We knew it had
real potential,” said Schmitz. “We looked at it and
decided that we were going to take a run at reopening.”
Schmitz had previous experience in the business, having
purchased and run Nordic Mountain in central Wisconsin.
The new owners bought the land of the ski hill and
leased other parts of the property from former Slinger
Super Speedway owner Wayne Erickson, who Schmitz said
had bought the property with plans to renovate the
lodge. A year later the Schmitz brothers bought the
property in full.
The project leading to reopening was a
multimillion-dollar effort, between the Schmitz brothers
and the interim owner, according to Schmitz, who said
when Little Switzerland had closed the building’s
infrastructure in particular needed updating.
He said the time between the 2007 closure and the
reopening offered a necessary reset for those who knew
of the updates needed at the park. And the reception to
the renovated and reopened park has been “better than I
ever could have dreamed.”
“People love that place. There was so much good will,”
The park currently draws visitors primarily from
southeast Wisconsin, in particular the northwest side of
Milwaukee. It features 18 runs of all ability levels,
including a beginner’s area which hosts a ski school and
“That’s one of our core things. We walk around and hear
people say, ‘I learned to ski here,” said Schmitz.
“It’s a huge part of what we do,” he said, adding that
Little Switzerland also includes a terrain park popular
with the teenage demographic.
Although this winter has unseasonably warm and lacking
in snow, Schmitz stressed that Little Switzerland has an
advanced snow-making system. He said most customers are
now aware that the park has the technology to stay open
despite the weather.
“Our customers are realizing we always have really good
conditions,” Schmitz said. “We are starting to reap the
benefits of all that investment. We are always 100
percent open with good quality snow.”
But Schmitz added that some more seasonably winter
weather would still be welcome.
“There’s no better marketing than a little bit of
natural snow,” he said.
Purchase of Franklin park
In 2017, the Little Switzerland owners expanded their
reach by purchasing the Rock Snow Park in Franklin.
A purchase agreement and long-term lease between ROC
Ventures, owner and developer of The Rock Sports
Complex, and Schmitz Brothers LLC was announced in
summer of 2017.
Michael Zimmerman, owner of ROC Ventures, said in a
press release that the business was looking for “proven
operators to solidify our ski hill offerings” and that
Rick, Mike, and Dave Schmitz fit this description.
“After seeing them turn around Little Switzerland so
dramatically, we knew we’d found the folks we wanted to
work with,” Zimmerman said, in the release.
This is the second season the Schmitz brothers are
operating the Rock.
“It’s a full ski hill with something for everyone,” said
Schmitz, who said season passes purchased at either park
can be used at both locations. “It is a little smaller
than Little Switzerland as far as the number of runs but
a little bit more vertical drop.”
Going forward, Schmitz said the focus will be on
improvements at the properties.
“Our strategy has always been to reinvest in our
properties. We have a lot of ideas,” he said.