In October, PanAm opened its first office in Breckenridge. Now, two months later, the company has decided that Breck will house its headquarters as well. The decision comes with plans to institute a PanAm facility and open up 75-100 new jobs.
PanAm is a travel management company, working closely within the government travel sector. PanAm also specializes in assisting non-government organizations, nonprofits and higher education institutions.
Originally, PanAm was an air carrier, founded in 1929. The company was shut down in 1991, experienced a brief revitalization through several small companies in 1998 before the brand died again. Travelectra, a small travel management company, bought the rights to PanAm and changed over all of its branding on March 1, 2012.
PanAm has offices internationally as well as nationally, including offices in London and Berlin. Currently, Denver serves as the company's headquarters. However, the board decided unanimously this week that Breckenridge will serve as its new home base.
This means that, in addition to the two offices already established in Breckenridge, PanAm will close down its non-ancillary offices throughout the United States and centralize everything in Breck.
The plan for the physical location of the Breckenridge headquarters is still in the first stages. PanAm has expressed interest in either building a new facility or purchasing a building, though nothing has been finalized yet.
Also coming with the headquarters will be job openings. Michael Kennedy, chief technology officer of PanAm, estimates that 80 percent of the jobs that the headquarters will bring into Breckenridge will be position openings for new hires.
"The goal is to create opportunities for people who are locals in the community," said Melanie Frank, chief operating officer at PanAm.
Because working at a travel management company requires a specific skill set, new hires will undergo training sessions that will teach them to work within the PanAm system. Another purpose behind hiring on new staff, said Kennedy, is to gather employees with a fresh perspective on travel and who haven't been jaded by years in the industry.
"You can train anybody to push buttons," Kennedy said. "I want people who are fresh to the industry to be working with my customers. ... We train our staff to experience travel ... as a traveler, not a travel agent."
The official headquarters change will take place around early March, with the following six months set aside for moving and hiring.
In the few months that it's been in Breckenridge, the company has taken on 510 million accounts, all of them new, said Frank.
"There's a lot of volume, a lot of need," she said.
In addition to already hiring on some locals, Frank included, PanAm has created two paid internship positions for Summit County students. The company plans to become involved in the community, particularly with the county's youth.
Overall, Kennedy said that Breckenridge would be a "fresh approach" for the company and that those involved are excited to be moving forward.
"The board does believe Breckenridge is the right thing to do," he said.