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Making it in Big Sky: Matt Zaremba

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Local real estate agent Matt Zaremba sees Big Sky’s economic growth as an opportunity for locals to start their own companies. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT ZAREMBA

By Doug Hare EBS STAFF

Originally from Chicago, Matt Zaremba majored in marketing at the University of Colorado.

A talented athlete, Zaremba coaches Big Sky youth soccer and enjoys the mainstays of Lone Mountain entertainment: skiing and mountain biking. Zaremba moved to Big Sky in 2014 and within the last year he sold his property management company, got married and started working for the Big Sky Real Estate Company.

Explore Big Sky: What brought you to Big Sky in the first place?

Matt Zaremba: “I came to Big Sky on a business trip during the ski season. It snowed 16 inches on back-to-back days on a weekend and there were no lift lines. I couldn’t believe it. I was living in Vail at the time and immediately started planning a move further north.” 

EBS: What are the biggest obstacles to operating a property management company in Big Sky?

M.Z.: “I think one of the toughest parts about operating a management company in Big Sky was the limited access to everyday amenities. You can’t solve certain problems here as quickly as you could in a bigger city due to shortages in skilled labor and supplies given our remote location.  You have to be a bit more creative.”

EBS: What has been the key to your success?

M.Z.: “Our turnaround time was exceptional. I think some of it was as simple as always answering the phone and always being available. My personal cell phone was on 24-7. That provided peace of mind for our clients, who were sometimes thousands of miles away.”

EBS:How has the business landscape changed since you started out?

M.Z.: “Property management in Big Sky has become more competitive. When we started there were maybe three companies with all the market share in Big Sky. Since then, we have observed consolidation at the top and about ten new companies enter the fold. The number of houses in the rental pool has grown immensely as well.” 

EBS: You decided to sell your company and become a real estate agent? What prompted that move?

M.Z.: “I was managing almost fifty rentals and already selling real estate when we received an offer to buy our company. I actually had no intention of selling but saw it as an opportunity to focus exclusively on selling homes.”

EBS: What is one of the most memorable moments you have had as a resident/business owner in Big Sky?  

M.Z.: “I’ve really enjoyed watching the next generation of Big Sky residents start their own businesses. Like other ski towns, we are facing the issue of affordable housing and cost of living.  However, I’ve watched friends of mine transition from part-time seasonal jobs to working for themselves. What’s better than that? I think that’s one of many things Big Sky has going for it over other ski towns. There is still plenty of opportunity to make a life here. Go get it!”

EBS: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received? 

M.Z.: “Negotiating isn’t about one side beating the other. It’s about everybody feeling good once the transaction is all said in done. Someone once told me that’s the key to staying in business for the long run.”

EBS: What advice would you give to small business owners just starting out in Big Sky?

M.Z.: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

EBS: You got married last year. How has that impacted your work life?

M.Z.: “Expecting our first child has certainly shifted our priorities—we have swapped tomahawks for tummy time.”

EBS: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

M.Z.: “Hopefully skiing back-to-back 16 inch powder days with our kids.”

Joseph T. O'Connor is the previous Editor-in-Chief for EBS newspaper and Mountain Outlaw magazine.

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