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CTEC inc.

Timeline: 1977-1993

The installation of a CTEC lift at Solitude Ski Resort, UT.

CTEC (Cable Transportation Engineering Corporation) was founded in 1977 by Jan Leonard and Mark Ballantyne who were both former Thiokol employees. When Thiokol got out of the aerial lift industry in 1976 to pursue the manufacturing of booster engines for NASA, it sold its aerial lift designs to Leonard and Ballantyne in 1978. By 1982, CTEC was the second largest aerial lift manufacturer in North America, with a total of nineteen lift installations.

Both leading characters hold engineering degrees, Leonard from Penn State in 1968 and Ballantyne from Purdue in 1971. When Leonard from Penn State, he spent two years working for U.S. Steel before going to work for Hall Ski Lifts in 1971. An urge to do more field work led him out west to Thiokol in 1974 when the company still in the chairlift business. It was at Thiokol where Leonard and Ballantyne both met, where Ballantyne was employed as an assistant marketing manager. When Thiokol was starting to worry about its chairlift division, Leonard and Ballantyne were already in the process of creating a consulting and modifications business. When Thiokol finally got out of the aerial lift business in 1977, Ballantyne has already moved to Sacramento, California to handle Thiokol's snow cat division. Leonard moved south to Salt Lake City, Utah and began a new career.

Big Mountain
A CTEC triple chair at Big Mountain, Montana.

In 1976 on, the pair joined forces to develop a lift consulting modifications business that serviced customers in North America. However, CTEC continued to do consulting work for Thiokol because the company was still in the process of installing lifts in 1977. In 1978, Leonard and Ballantyne bought Thiokol's inventory and lift.

That same year, CTEC installed its first lift at Seven Springs, PA, which was an up-and-over lift capable of transporting 1,800 people each direction, with a total hourly capacity of 3,600 people. While continuing in the consulting business, CTEC was able to secure five more lifts installations during the next two seasons at Seven Springs, Snow Basin, Solitude, Pebble Creek and in Puerto Rico. In 1981, CTEC made some major product line changes and managed to install five lifts that year at Big Mountain, Snoshoe, Seven Springs, Snow King and Los Alamos Ski Club. One thing that makes CTEC's lifts so attractive are their high horse power (200-300) capabilities, which is the typical needs of western ski areas.

"The industry is not entrenched; they'll give a new company a chance and they are very receptive to a new mousetrap," says Ballantyne of his company's ability to grow so quickly. "It's okay to be the new guy on the block in this business." "In this business you sell yourself as much as your product," says Leonard. "We're a quiet company whose nature is not to make a lot of noise; neither one of us is much of a salesman. We just try to turn out the best product. We're selling reliability and simplicity, not innovations."

Sacramento Fabrication Facility
The Sacramento fabrication shop.

It's fair to say that CTEC is a two-scene act. Leonard oversees Scene 1 in Salt Lake City, UT where engineers prepare lift designs and sales are taken place. Scene 2, is the manufacturing facility in Sacramento, CA where Ballantyne oversees.

CTEC first began to develop its own parts in 1979 under Ballantyne's supervision. Initially he agonized over a $10,000 capital budget, but because of rapid growth, that quickly changed to a quarter million budget for new equipment. The Sacramento facility amounts to 24,000 square feet including a modest amount of office space and five back bays to handle lift component fabrication. CTEC also services and sells DeLorean Motor Company over-snow vehicles, which was once owned by Thiokol.

CTEC's production facility was probably most notable for its enthusiastic division heads and employee. It didn't take long to get the feeling that employees thought the company was going some place.

Before merging with Garaventa in March of 1993, CTEC Inc. was able to install a total of 144 lifts during its lifetime. However, Mark Ballantyne left Garaventa CTEC in 1999 to form a new company in Sacramento, California. Today, CTEC Inc. is now part of the Doppelmayr/ Garaventa group, with Jan Leonard being the president of the North American division, Doppelmayr CTEC.

Jan Leonard
Jan Leonard
Mark Ballantyne
Mark Ballantyne
An overview of one of CTEC's stainless steel and investment casted grips.

All pictures and content were gathered from SAM Magazine, November, 1981 ©

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