He doesn’t live at Whistler. But in many ways, he still considers this place his spiritual home. “I live as close to Whistler as I possibly can while still being connected to my office in Vancouver,” says Al Safrata, the long-time president of Marmot Canada. “And to me, that has to be one of the best working deals in the country.”
No question. From his sea-view residence just outside of Horseshoe Bay, Safrata finds himself a little more than an hour’s drive away from the lifts at Creekside. And given that Al deals in the outdoor sporting apparel business — with a particular emphasis on multi-purpose high-performance gear — he can easily justify such mountain excursions as “research and development”. Which he does on a regular basis. “I can work from home for most of the morning, jump in my car and get to Whistler in time for a full afternoon of skiing,” says the 51-year-old self-described “funhog”. And then he laughs — an infectious laugh that is extremely hard to resist. “So why not do it?”
“Look,” he adds, “I still consider myself something of a ski bum. I’m a Snoweater through and through. Many years ago I made a choice to get involved in this business so that I could still have fun playing in the mountains. I’d be crazy not to take advantage of my situation.”
Indeed. But, says Safrata, it goes even further than that. “Life is just too short to bury yourself in a job you despise. For me, it’s all about valuing my day-to-day experiences. In other words, I’d rather count the number of smiles I have in a day than the number of dollars I make…”
And he pretty much lives by that tenet. “My goal is to appreciate every moment to its fullest,” he says. “And if that means taking some time off work to head off for a hike into the backcountry with friends, then so be it. It’s OK to switch it up from time-to-time — to get unstuck from routine and do something creative for a change.” He laughs again. “After all, that’s what keeps us excited about waking up in the morning. Don’t you think?”
Safrata grew up in Toronto. His family belonged to Collingwood’s prestigious Craigleith Ski Club — one of the great ski racing powerhouses of Southern Ontario in the 1960s and ’70s. Not surprisingly, Al and his younger brother Rob were right in the thick of it.