In the 1940s, Dave McCoy won the rights to develop a ski area on California's Mammoth Mountain by drawing three lines on a piece of paper, depicting lifts. "That was the business plan," the 93-year-old recalls. He built a lodge with volunteer labor and installed his first chairlift with little more than goodwill. Even his market research was done on a shoestring. "I'd stand in line with skiers at the lifts, and they'd tell me what they wanted," he says. The scrimping and scraping paid off, however. By the time he sold a majority stake in 2005, the resort was valued at $365 million.
Published in Brief: