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Al Pal: Marketing, Brighton Resort – Snowboarding’s 30 Under 30

Marketing, Brighton Resort

If you've ever heard of Brighton Resort, there's a 99.9% chance that you know Al Mlynarek. Also known affectionately as "Al Pal"—an homage to his genuinely friendly nature and constant stoke—he's littered across their Instagram handle sending some of the most ridiculous cliffs, drops and cornices you could possibly imagine. But get this…he's the Marketing guy. In my opinion, no one in the resort Marketing world is as good at their job as Al. He spreads stoke, people remember the first time they ever took a lap with him and he is unbelievably psyched all the time. Hailing from just outside of Detroit, Al literally ditched his day job, drove to Utah, got a job at Brighton, and is currently living the dream with his wife Katie in Salt Lake City. Come to think of it, now I know exactly why Al is so amped up all the time, and it's because of the aforementioned life choices that he has made, and chances are, he'll keep making good ones and keep on livin' that good life both on and off the hill.

—T. Bird

Here comes the boom. PHOTO: Andrew Kooyman

What does your current position in the snowboarding industry entail? Describe a typical day on the job.

That's kind of a loaded question. When I started at Brighton, we had a third party ad agency that would basically do everything for us. After that first year, I got proficient enough to take everything in house and we dumped the agency. There's no easy way to put a title on what I do so I guess here's a list of things I'm responsible for:

—All of the graphic design: print ads, digital ads, brochures, trail maps, promo items, collab apparel/hardgoods, physical branding, signage, etc.

—Manage the website (If I could go back in time and change one thing, I would have learned how to code when I was younger).

—Manage all of the media from the photographers/videographers/pro riders/anyone else with a camera that shows up in the office to dump footage.

Then there's all the shit that Jared Winkler and I tag team:

—Event planning and coordination.

—Social media (which could 100% be a full time job in itself).

—Sponsor acquisition/collaboration.

—Develop and implement ad campaigns.

But if it's snowing, I tend to focus more on "generating content" or doing "product familiarization trips" because you've gotta have a good understanding of what you're selling, right?

Where are you from and where do you currently call home?

I grew up just outside of Detroit and currently live in Salt Lake.

How did you start snowboarding?

I got into snowboarding for the same reason everyone else did: it was always way cooler than skiing. I grew up on skis but my parents never let me board. They would always call snowboarders "Knuckle Draggers" and refer to it as "The Dark Side." I remember saving up all of the money I could (mostly birthday cards from random family members) to buy my first board at the local skate shop swap sale. I want to say I was 13 or 14 years old at the time. It was a 134 World Industries board with a Flameboy graphic with some bindings that literally didn’t have a brand name on them. Everything about snowboarding was so much cooler than skiing and as much as my parents thought I was going to turn into a pot smoking, public intoxicated degenerate, it ended up taking me way further in life than I could have ever dreamed.

Representing Brighton like a boss. PHOTO: Andrew Kooyman

At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the snowboard industry?

As much as I wanted to think I was about the vagabond/dirtbag lifestyle, I've never had the ability to be content with not working. The ski resort industry seemed like the best way to get myself out of Michigan and have the chance to snowboard on real mountains more than once a year. I decided to become a Hospitality Business Major in college because that seemed like the easiest way to find a decent job at a resort.

And how did you make that happen?

The series of events that landed me where I am were fueled by a lot of hard work and even more dumb luck. I got my break into the industry working at Windells as one of the office interns. Office life was pretty gnarly but it ended up being well worth the endless conversations with moms that had campers with strict dietary needs. Mt. Hood is the promise land for summer snowboarding and it's the easiest way to meet everyone in the industry. After I got back from camp that summer, I was working construction all fall and lined up a gig managing the park at Cannonsburg Resort in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It wasn’t ideal but it was better than tearing out drywall or sitting behind a desk in Detroit. One day in mid-November I was patching a hole in the roof of a sketchy office building I was remodeling when I took a little Instagram break. The first thing that popped up on my feed was a post from Brighton saying they were looking to hire a "Marketing Assistant." I immediately dropped the bucket of tar I was using to patch that hole and started firing off emails to Winkler. I don't think he knows this but I actually found Jared's Facebook profile and went through his friends to find any mutual connections we had and then started blowing them up to put in a good word for me. Jared called me the next day and said, "Yeah if you don't have dreadlocks or any visible neck tattoos the job is yours." I packed up my van and sent it to Utah the next day.

Who did you look up to in the industry for inspiration? 

Probably my biggest inspiration would be my "boss" Jared Winkler. Somebody should write a book about this dude because he's an absolute legend and snowboarding would not be what it is today without him. Between Windells, KAB Rails and Brighton, Winkler is one of the reasons that terrain parks exist and if you're reading this, you've probably ridden a rail he's built before. I also definitely look to people who got their start in the snowboard industry and transitioned into the real world. Somebody like Pat Fenelon who used to be a digger at Windells and now you don't even know what country he's in on a day-to-day basis. Working in the industry is dream come true but someday I hope to expand my scope of work (and maybe make a little more money) and people like Pat are a great example of how to do this.

If you gaze up at the sky, you might find Al Pal flying over you. PHOTO: Andrew Kooyman

What do you feel has been your biggest impact in your line of work?

Honestly, I didn't think that this question would ever be relevant to me until about a month ago. I was on my honeymoon in Chamonix and bought my wife a spa treatment so I could sneak away and skate for a bit. When I was at the skatepark, there was a group of kids there that eventually started a conversation with me. After they realized I didn't speak French and saw something about Salt Lake on whatever I was wearing, they were super stoked that I lived in Utah and snowboarded. At one point, I was showing them a picture of Brighton on my Instagram and when I swiped back into my profile, one of the kids was like, "Hey I follow this guy! He dropped that insane cliff this year!" After I told them it was me they started tripping out about how insane Utah looked and how their dream was to ride in the United States. It was pretty crazy being halfway around the world in the gnarliest ski area I've ever seen and have this group of locals that were so stoked on me rolling up the windows falling off a rock that their goal was to someday make it to Brighton so they could check it out for themselves.

What do you want to accomplish that you haven't yet?

I know this should be work related but after going through my quarter-life crisis I made a list of classic lines and cliffs around Brighton that I want to send. So much snowboard history has taken place right out of my office door and I really want to bring the hype back to that aspect of Brighton. After putting this list together and actually lining up a few of these spots, I have a totally different respect for how gnarly the dudes who first sent them actually were. I grew up hitting rails and that's mostly the reason I ended up here in the first place, but after getting my first real dose of bottomless Utah snow, my mindset has completely changed. I haven't hit a rail in almost two years and I couldn't be more stoked about that. I guess I hope I can get other people stoked on exploring beyond the park and really seeing what Brighton has to offer.

Dropping cliffs like it’s nothing. PHOTO: Andrew Kooyman

Anyone you'd like to thank?

Too many to list but most of all my wife Katie for not killing me every time I almost kill myself and my boss Jared for giving me my dream job and helping me realize how much of a kook I've been my entire life.

 

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