We consider ourselves extremely lucky that Jeff Zachau, Owner of Zachau Construction has become part of the WinterKids Family.
“Jeff is like the football quarterback of Sugarloaf,” says Julie Mulkern, Executive Director. “He’s such a beloved person. He is accessible and authentic, and that shines through in Zachau Construction’s company values also.”
Jeff and Heather (his wife) are huge supporters of the WinterKids mission and very family-oriented. They have encouraged and modeled healthy, outdoor activity with all three of their children. The company prides itself on the same commitment.
We recently sat down with Jeff to talk about his commitment to supporting WinterKids, a commitment that runs deeply through both his family and company. Here’s what he had to say…
WinterKids loves Zachau Construction’s commitment to kids in Maine. Tell me how you became involved with WinterKids.
I remember back when the first couple of Downhill 24 events happened, I thought it looked really fun. I wanted to get involved but had a hard time spending weekends away from Sugarloaf. When the event moved to Sugarloaf, right off the bat I was like, “Yeah, that’s something we definitely want to do.”
My introduction to all this was doing the first Downhill 24 at Sugarloaf. Through that, I figured out I knew a lot of people involved, and the work they put into it, which made it easy for us to align with.
What excites you most about WinterKids programs in the coming year?
I mean, I think everything WinterKids does has such real value. Moving towards an app to replace the Passport was a wonderful idea. I think that’s just going to continue to build momentum and be something that a lot of people are going to recognize it and enjoy using. So I think that’s wonderful.
I really like the Winter Games for schools because it brings exposure to kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity. When we go into the schools, we’re kind of force-feeding them really good information. And then, hopefully, some of that’s going to stick for a few kids who will also adopt using the app and really become participants in the programs.
How has your involvement in the Downhill 24 been a benefit to your employees and family?
Skiing is a huge part of my family’s life. We’ve had a house at Sugarloaf for something like 16 years now. Many of my best memories I have of my kids growing up were at Sugarloaf. And I know they’ll say that “Dad’s a different person when he’s at Sugarloaf versus–“. We’ve had some real quality time there over the years. A lot of our relationship has been built around skiing, so that’s been wonderful for us.
We’ve always been philanthropic, and there are many truly worthy causes, but the Downhill 24 is one that perfectly aligned with my values and the importance that Heather (my wife) and I see in being active and getting outside. Once we chose to be a part of it, the people at work got really into it too. It’s an event that’s easy to get excited about. When you can bring a little competition to it, it just makes it really fun. People in the community have started to recognize our involvement too. Time and time again we’ll meet people and they’ll say, “Oh, yeah, you’re the WinterKid guys, right?” And then, I’ll say, “Yeah, yeah. We’ve been involved.” So that’s fun.
Last year was our 50th year in business and we were celebrating that, so as a goal decided that we’d put two teams together with the idea that we’d try to raise $50,000 between the two teams and we did! We were really excited about that and that was something that was pretty easy to get people involved with and get them excited about too. What makes it really cool is that we get a lot of donations but they’re not huge donations. We’ve successfully fundraised large amounts with people making $100 and $200 dollar donations! We’ve had a few larger donations, but not many. It’s mostly small donations from individuals and small companies. Proof that every little bit can make a difference. We’re excited to continue to have fun with it, keep getting more people excited about it and, yeah, just have a good time.