The recession has hit hard at home. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area cut the pay of senior management, cut expenses and some benefits, and this week the Ski Area laid off 101 employees.
Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory talked to us from San Francisco after attending a California Tourism Commission meeting where he heard repeated stories of a sharp downturn in business.
Gregory said it is clear that the recession is severe and deepening. He said the demand is down at Mammoth and its a universal trend for theme parks, resorts and retail. Gregory said the first thing Mammoth did was to look closely at financials. He said the snow is good but right now skier visits are down 17% and revenue is down 21%, compared to projections.
In reality, this year is running about the same as last year, which was not a stellar year, Gregory said. The Mountain has revised projections from a hoped for 1.4 million skier visits to less than 1.1 million.
Gregory said the facts prompted the company to cut the ten senior managers pay by 5%. We eliminated gas allowances and cell phones over $40 per month. Gregory said the Mountain moved to reduce expenses throughout the company in ways that would not impact the guest experience nor the safety of workers. We are rigorously cutting back. Not buying things.
In addition to that, officials reduced paid time off from six weeks per year to four weeks. The toughest cut of all 101 employees. Gregory said 35 year-round positions were eliminated 8 of those were from Patina, the culinary company partnered with the Mountain. 66 seasonal employees lost their jobs.
Gregory said he and others tried to spread the pain and will keep a close eye on things over the next couple of weeks.
Gregory was candid about the current situation and acknowledged the weight of the Ski Areas obligation to the Eastern Sierra as its major employer.
I asked Gregory how he feels about what has happened. I feel awful about it that its been necessary and that employees have lost jobs.
Gregory said he knows how difficult it is for them, that this is not Los Angeles where you can walk across the street and get a new job. He did say that he thinks the Mountain has taken correct and prudent steps to continue to keep the doors open.