When Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory recently sat down in his executive conference room with local reporters and his new management team, he ran through the Ski Area’s history, the ups and downs of money and snow, the lay-offs, the bitterness, and what he sees now as the start of another wave up. He may have given up daily operations, but Gregory is still in charge.
The CEO spoke of the emotional fatigue of recent problems and the need to “grow out of it.” He said the pessimism that grew out of the last several years’ challenges has been “intensified by our small, rural community.” Gregory pointed again to the Mountain’s debt restructuring, verified by a Forest Service audit, that led to the closure of June Mountain.
In a presentation designed to get his message out, Gregory showed clips of movies that highlighted strength and positivity – from Peter Pan to Bravehart. Said Gregory, “These have been times that have tried men’s and women’s souls.” He said he believes in a new wave of opportunity. Said the CEO, “I can prove it. Jobs are up. Gross Domestic Product is up, investment capital is available, the stock market is up, housing starts are up and interest rates are up.”
Gregory said the new management team is about what is happening. He presented a new branding for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area – “Southern California’s Mountain Home.” He said this new identity is not about shrinking from a world-class destination resort image. He said it’s about Mammoth’s Southern California market. He said he wants Mammoth to have the “loudest voice in Southern California.” He called for more marketing and for the Business Improvement District assessments to help pay for it.
New marketing developments for the Mountain include a new website, Facebook and the ability to make purchases on the website. Gregory said baby boomers are dropping out of skiing and Mammoth has to take its share from the next two generations. He did not agree to the question of lift tickets being too pricey. He said the Value Passes work for frequent skiers. He said employers will be able to buy transferable passes.
As for the immediate future of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Gregory said they are not selling the company. He added that “Some day Barry Sternlicht will sell.” And, on what he will now do as CEO, Gregory said he will focus on investment capital. He said he has a deal for $350 million on his desk to refinance debt – one of many deals. Gregory sees opportunities missed in the recent pass. He said, “We couldn’t get our act together. We couldn’t put political acrimony aside long enough to develop.”