The Making it in Big Sky series is sponsored by the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.
By Mira Brody CONTENT PRODUCTION DIRECTOR
BIG SKY—Adam Farr, owner and managing partner of Ascend Properties, has wanted to own his own business for at least a decade. Finally, three years ago, he channeled his entrepreneurial spirit alongside his wife, Hannah, and started Ascend Properties here in Big Sky. What began as a single property under their management three years ago, has grown organically into 65.
Farr takes pride in providing not only a unique vacation experience, but also doing his part to help Big Sky thrive by referring all guests to cherished local businesses. He also owns Go Big Rentals, which is the largest long-term rental management company operating in Big Sky with over 125 properties rented out to Big Sky locals.
In addition to running a business, Farr coaches the Lone Peak High School football team and enjoys spending time with his family here in Big Sky.
This series is part of a paid partnership with the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. The following answers have been edited for brevity.
Explore Big Sky: I’d like to start with a little background information on you, when did you first come to Big Sky and what brought you here?
Adam Farr: In 2007 I moved from Spokane, WA to Big Sky with my wife Hannah and two young children to take a position as the valet manager at Yellowstone Club. Within a year I transitioned to the property management side of things and headed up the then-emerging YC rental home program. It has been truly incredible to see how Big Sky in general has transformed from our 2007 arrival to today.
EBS: Tell me about the history of Ascend Properties: When did it get its start? What prompted you to start this business?
AF: Starting my own business had been a goal of mine for at least the past 10 years and I finally took the plunge almost exactly three years ago by starting Ascend Properties. As someone who has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, finally choosing to exercise it by starting Ascend was one of the best decisions of my life. We started with one property under management and have grown it to 65 and counting. Many vacation rental and property management businesses grow quickly through the acquisition of other businesses, however the growth of Ascend Properties has been completely organic; adding one property at a time to our management portfolio. There is no question that without the support of, and relationships with, several key real estate agents and brokers within our small community we would never have seen this type of growth. We could not be more grateful to them.
EBS: With Big Sky being a vacation hot spot, what services do you offer to visitors, as well as the local community? What about your properties makes a visit unique?
AF: The vast majority of our portfolio consists of luxury real estate catering to the type of visitor that Big Sky small businesses need to survive and thrive. Without the visitation of affluent travelers, many businesses—including my own—would frankly have long odds to survive. Our team genuinely enjoys referring a wide range of restaurants, ski shops, retail, realtors and many other local businesses to our guests daily.
One of the defining aspects of our guests’ stay is our laser focus on communication and responsiveness. Before, during and after a guests stay, they can expect us to respond immediately to all communications. If anything is requested by a guest, the number one priority must be a very high level of responsiveness. Then of course execution in meeting the needs of the guest as quickly as possible. The longstanding relationships our team has with many key vendors and contractors in the area helps us greatly in achieving timely resolutions to anything that may arise.
EBS: How big is your team?
AF: Our staff consists of nine full-time year-round team members, all of whom live in Big Sky and have extensive experience in property management and vacation rental management. Our approach of maintaining a year-round staff with benefits and housing has proven incredibly effective as opposed to relying on seasonal staffing. We are always looking for top talent, so if you’re reading this and want to be part of a dynamic, fun and fast-growing team, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
EBS: What is the best part about being a business owner in Big Sky?
AF: Undoubtably it is the community feel of Big Sky and the willingness of other business owners, realtors, contractors and the residents of Big Sky in general to help prop one another up for success. As a prime example, we have had countless interactions with fellow vacation rental companies who in one sense would be considered our competitors, but in a much greater sense are actually extremely pleasant and consistently putting forth a “we’re in this together” type of an approach whenever we interact with them.
EBS: When you’re not at work, where could we find you in Big Sky and what might you be doing?
AF: My first thought was, when am I not at work? Mostly kidding, I have spent a great deal of time coaching the high school football team over the years. Many people don’t realize that practice starts in early June and the season ends in late October, so for about half the year that occupies the majority of my time outside of work. Otherwise, you will probably find me hanging out with my family, on the golf course, or at the Riverhouse [BBQ & Events] eating a flank steak sandwich made “Carnie Style.”
EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
AF: A business mentor of mine gave me the advice to, whenever financially feasible, hire talented people who are a culture fit, even if you don’t have a defined role for them just yet. I think this is incredibly true in today’s labor market. Having stuck by this advice for the last 15 years of my career I can definitely say it has paid significant dividends for the businesses I’ve helped lead.
EBS: Is there anything else that you’d like to tell the Big Sky community?
AF: Ascend Properties is most definitely not in the business of turning properties that are suitable for long-term rentals into vacation rentals. In fact, we own Go Big Rentals as well, which is the largest long-term rental management company operating in Big Sky with over 125 properties rented out to Big Sky locals. We are keenly aware of the housing situation in Big Sky and routinely talk homeowners into going the long-term rental route with their property. Protecting Big Sky’s long-term rental portfolio is something we take seriously and will never stop doing.