Rusty Gregory: “Mammoth Mountain will not be run by me”

Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory

Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory

As the Mammoth Town Council settled in for a long discussion on the new Tourism Business Improvement District Wednesday night, Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory stood up to encourage support of the TBID. With little explanation, Gregory said, “In two or three weeks I’ll be announcing who will run Mammoth Mountain Ski Area next. Mammoth Mountain,” he said, “will not be run by me.”

Slight applause from the full audience followed. Gregory gave no more explanation for this pivotal moment. He only said that he had promised in November of last year that “I would get out of the way.” After saying he would not be running the Mountain, Gregory said, “We’re making a lot of changes organizationally that are difficult to make because for us to do things in the future, we can’t do things the same way harder and faster and expect a different result.”

The long-time CEO called it a very important time for the Town and the community. He said Mammoth would be required in the future to do things differently than comfortably done in the past. He repeated that “Mammoth Mountain has made a lot of changes – some public, some not.” He pointed to Howard Pickett. Gregory said, “He has done a great job as Chief Marketing Officer of Mammoth Mountain. He will remain with the Company in the foreseeable future. We need special help to work with the TBID if it passes so we can take our marketing effort and fold it into their effort.

Gregory said of the TBID, “We believe it is the only growth strategy for the future. We need a growth strategy.” He said the TBID will lead to improvements of the Town’s budget and ability to provide services like police. He advised those in the room to remember that it’s a natural tendency to “snap back to what we’ve been doing. What we’re comfortable with in the past is not the right answer for the future,” said Gregory

The CEO repeated that “We think this does represent a growth strategy for the future. Please look very carefully t it. We’ll do our best to comply,” he said.

Left with this stunning revelation – an apparent shift of what’s going on in the heart of the Eastern Sierra economy – Mammoth Mountain – the Council went on to hear other public comments. We placed calls to Rusty Gregory to learn more about who will run Mammoth Mountain and what these “organizational changes” are all about.

 

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48 Responses to Rusty Gregory: “Mammoth Mountain will not be run by me”

  1. ferdinand lopez June 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    kinda like when nixon left office,why is it always about growth,instead of bettering what mammoth already has

     
    • Sierrafan June 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      FL,

      Think about what you’re asking! You can not sustain a business if it’s not growing or evolving! In other words, a stagnant town is just that! If you’re not moving forward then you’re moving backwards! This town and the mountain need to continue to look for new revenue stream in order to survive in this crazy world.

       
      • Reality check June 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

        The middle class in America is disappearing. That leaves the non-rich (a lot of snowboarders are young, eat at McDonald’s, and stay 6 to a room in Mammoth)
        leaving those with the money (from Southern California) preferring the upscale luxury of a Deer Valley ski vacation (where the movie stars hang out and where those same snowboarders are prohibited.

        I guess everybody knows this but Gregory whose business is showing a profit to the stockholders.

        I am glad that somebody at last night’s town meeting drew attention to Gregory, who after an impassioned speech that lectured the crowd with “you people better listen!” left the premises immediately apparently unwilling to “listen” to what any other person in the room had to say.

        This is the problem with any one-horse town.

         
        • see ya June 6, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

          yep.. I commented on this earlier this week.
          Mammoth needs some serious change.
          heading off to Deer Valley with the family next week for a chage of scenery..

          figure it out fast mammoth fLakes before you loose the rest of the
          sheeple.

           
          • Danger Zone June 7, 2013 at 8:37 am #

            “see ya” must be one of those people who love crowds (something Mammoth doesn’t have to worry about) Park City has become completely and disgustingly developed. You’d swear you were in an overcrowded L.A. suburb.

            Danger ahead: Mammoth Lakes’ current mayor is … (here it comes) …
            (drum roll) …
            A DEVELOPER!

             
          • SierraFan June 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

            I don’t know about you all but I would take big crowds over what we have now! Big crowds = more and better paying jobs, business growth and stimulation with the low crowds comes lay off’s, mountains closing, business’s closing, lower paying jobs, less in tips, and on and on……. Which scenario would you all prefer?

             
      • Sean June 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

        Why all the thumbs down for SerraFan? He or she has it right. Whether you like it or not that is reality. Just ask Palm ( as in Palm pilots for those that miss the reference).

         
  2. ferdinand lopez June 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    hmmmm.evolving into what?skiing and fishing dont evolve,they change a little but thats it,theres enough sleeping accomidations for what the area can handle and then some,plenty of great places to eat,lots of places to buy fishing gear etc…evolving is just a curtain term for trying to squeeze blood from the rock

     
    • Every man for himself June 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

      I’ve always thought it stupid to promote a tourist destination as place to camp and catch trout.
      How much profit is there in fish hooks? How many fishermen leave their tents and RVs and eat restaurant food? These people are not exactly what one might call big spenders.
      The only people to capitalize on this idea are people like Tim Alpers.
      Oh, yeah. That’s right … Alpers has disassociated himself from that industry.
      LOL!

       
    • SierraFan June 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      Simple minded Ferninand… Simple minded! You have to look past your hands in order to see the whole picture.

       
  3. Steve June 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    I think the bossess at Starwood Capital has run out of patience. Oh well, change is coming.

     
    • No Worries June 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

      Barry is probably still chewing his ass for endorsing single family rentals to compete with one of their core revenue streams.

       
    • Impressing the mega-rich June 7, 2013 at 6:18 am #

      When the heads start to roll at the corporate level – watch out!
      Mammoth Mountain will never compete with the ultra-luxury ski resorts that cater to the mega-rich (a fast-growing segment of our society). In this community too much emphasis has been placed on marketing the mountain and not the town. Upon entering the town what is immediately seen is an area that resembles a trailer park. Along the street to the mountain are Southern California-style strip malls and run-down areas and corners.
      If YOU were amongst that elite mega-rich visitor crowd, what would be your first impression?

       
      • Gistine June 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

        My first impression of Mammoth would remind me of the music from Sanford and Son.

        I agree with you, but what does Mammoth have that those other resorts do not? Great, if not awesome skiing– that’s what. At the end of the day, most other ski resorts cannot compete with our annual snowfall and terrain. Has Mammoth not beaten out Colorado and Utah the past two, if not three years for snowfall?

        Some people, including the very wealthy do not care about how the town looks as much as they want to ski in 3 feet of powder. It is not like they stay in Mammoth anyway. They fly in and out in a day most times or they are sequestered in their McMansions.

        Besides, you can’t put lipstick on a pig (the town). Though it may have a major identity crisis, the one constant is the Mountain and that is really all most people care about. I don’t care if a monkey runs the ski area, so long as I get to enjoy some of the finest skiing around. Oh, wait…

         
  4. No Worries June 6, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Mammoth won’t be stagnant for long.

    I’m sure the line of brown nose’s awaiting the new CEO will be long and distinguished.

     
  5. enoughalready June 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Thats great news for the ski area. Maybe there is a chance for the ski area to be a ski area again.
    Did Rusty really ever run the ski area? I don’t think so. He tried to be in charge of the brand -“Mammoth Mountain” but failed in his vision and quest. He was just a figure head and a mouth piece. He will not be standing on the “shoulders of giants”.

     
  6. Proposal A June 6, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Have more of the successful Bluesapalooza musical events.
    Think haute rather than trout.
    Tear down or improve the town’s eyesores.
    Focus on changing the trailer camp image.
    Replace every town councilman with residents who care.
    Promote art and culture
    Attract headliner entertainers for concerts.
    Pay attention to what the residents want – not what the mountain wants.

     
    • Swami June 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      No one will take the new puppet serious because the new face will still have to check w/ the “man behind the curtain”. The fact that they think we will fall for this charade is an insult. Flush the toilet, unincorporate the town, have a paid mayor that takes responsibility, make all the town cars stay in town like the cops that drive our cars to bishop, we pay the gas?? What does the new town sign say, we are idiots for spending this much money on one project, when we are broke. What was wrong w/ the old new sign. The egos are too big….

       
  7. Realist June 6, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Let’s not start re-writing history because of a few tears from Rusty at the podium.

    He doesn’t do anything without a plan.

    If he says he is leaving, I want to see his butt heading out the door.

    Otherwise he will still be pulling the strings of his Minions from behind the curtain. (A curtain is a lot like a veil, which is often misspelled VAIL).

    It’s just the same old Darth-Rusty trying to get one over on everyone.

    I want to know the real truth.

    With Rusty the REAL-TRUTH can only be measured after time.

    If you forget the past you are condemned to relive it!

     
    • familygal June 7, 2013 at 9:49 am #

      Rusty didn’t say he was leaving MMSA – just that someone else would be “running” the mountain.

      My guess is that he will still be there – with a puppet in the public eye implementing his every desire….it’s a PR move plain and simple.

      “Don’t pay attention to that man behind the curtain…………”

       
  8. Trouble June 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    It sounds to me like they are about to quietly sell / cash out.

     
    • SierraFan June 10, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      I would be shocked if the mountain doesn’t sell after the Rusty news.

       
  9. Ken Warner June 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    The way I see it, it’s not about being an “upscale” resort. It’s about selling expensive condos and McMansions. Starwood Capital is a property developer. That’s the end product — development. And there hasn’t been much development because we are over developed already.

    That’s what the land swap and the Main Street redevelopment plan is all about. More development. Nobody gives a damn if Mammoth becomes an “upscale” resort. They just want to sell property that they’ve developed using their own developers.

    Why did Rusty choose to leave now? Why not?. He’s got a bundle of money. Why should he put up with all the B.S. It was probably fun for him for a while when he could manipulate the town any way he wanted to but now — there’s not much town to manipulate. It really doesn’t matter much one way or another. In a year, most people in town will have forgoten his name or never even new it to begin with.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

     
    • Develop every square inch June 7, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      @ Ken Warner –

      Those “expensive condos and McMansions” have not been immuned to a depreciating market. And don’t think the mega-rich who own the property aren’t aware of this.

      Those with money want it all (caviar, Dom Pérignon, music and theatre nightlife, film festivals and hanging with “the beautiful people.”) Mammoth clearly does not have it all.

      However, it does have a mayor who is a developer, and developers have to develop until every available piece of land is developed … one way or the other.

       
    • Odd pecking order June 7, 2013 at 9:12 am #

      I noticed how at the meeting (still being aired on TV) the town mayor vehemently jumped on a disgruntled resident for not directing his comments to the almighty board that sits before him that resembles a supreme court.

      However, when Gregory directed his comments to the peanut gallery (as he almost always does), the town mayor saw this as no problem.

      What a joke!

       
      • Fact Checker June 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

        That is very interesting…
        Mathew knows which side of his bread is buttered.
        If he was an honorable mayor or human being for that matter, he would listen to the public and weigh it equally.
        He is a public servant, not a dictator.
        Let’s hope he does the RIGHT THING…

         
  10. Rob June 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    Mammoth needs to cater to the clients who actually come here and stop trying to be Vail without the Vail infrastructure. It is a long drive from So Cal to Mammoth and the flights are weirdly out of touch with the actual schedule of a ski weekend.

    We don’t fly because we aren’t going to take 3-4 days off work to ski 2 days. When we ski, we hit the slopes first thing Sat. and leave directly from the mountain at 4:00pm Sunday. The flights do not allow that.

    We have a kid and we haven’t made the drive simply because 6 hours in a car with a small child is hellish, and there is no inexpensive day care. MMSA charges $100/day for small kid day care. That means we don’t come. Stupid is as stupid does, and they lost two hard core skiers who traveled 2-3 times a month from OC to Mammoth, got married at Mammoth, had our reception on the Mountain, held passes, ate on the mountain (food is damn good and saves a ton of time), and stayed at MMI until we couldn’t stomach the “resort fee” any longer.

    Point is, we pumped a ton of money into the economy, and we don’t anymore, MMSA priced us out. What kind of evolution is that?

     
    • familygal June 7, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      well said @Rob….you have captured the exact problem!

       
    • Gistine June 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      You are SO correct, Rob. MMSA is not very child-friendly. It seems as if they are trying, but they just cannot seem to grasp what parents really want/need.

      Sorry to hear you won’t be coming back. You actually sound like the kind of people we like to visit.

       
    • JJ June 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

      Rob hit the nail on the head. The mountain needs to take notice of this and work with the people who make Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain a viable operation. Families like this are what the mountain should be making a commitment to if the they truly believe they want to create “dedicated life long skiers”. Price gouging for daycare, ski lessons (thank the skier services director for that!) and daily tickets doesn’t make sense if you actually believe the mountains vision statement.

       
  11. Tom O. June 7, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    This guy should’ve left long ago. From screwing employees w/ employee housing, The Black Pass[The Snob Pass],great mistrust w/ various dept managers,low employee moral, to screwing June Lake. He is a perfect example of the fish rotting from the head down….bye bye Darth Rusty….dont let the gondola door hit you in the ass.

     
  12. anon. June 7, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Bennett – this is being passed around and has been posted on the mammoth forums chat, too.
    ———————————————
    From: “Gregory, Rusty”
    To: “Send to Everyone”
    Subject: Mammoth Update – Memo to All Employees June 2013.doc
    TO ALL EMPLOYEES

    The communities of Mammoth and June continue to struggle with the hardships and disillusionment of the last seven years that saw a global financial meltdown, two years of recession, and four years of the worst drought in our region’s history. Jobs were lost, businesses disappeared, a town went bankrupt and a ski area was closed.

    As locals moved away, and others were making plans to follow, the world began to change. Business began to improve, jobs were created, new employees hired, home prices began to rise, companies and individuals began to invest. These improving circumstances have been imperceptible to most, but they exist, they are real, and they are harbingers of a bright future ahead.

    Our company and our community will not realize the opportunities of the future by employing solutions of the past. It is time for new vision and bold action. It is time to pass the baton to a new generation of leaders who dare to have this vision and possess the audacity to take the big risk, the guts to change the old ways and the energy to do the hard work to transform the opportunities of the future into realities.

    While I intend to be your CEO for some time, I am stepping away from ski area operations and business duties that have been my responsibility since 1995 to make way for a new six member leadership team, including a Chief Operating Officer of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. I will turn my focus on attracting and deploying the considerable resources required for the company and the community to realize its full potential. I am excited to introduce you to this new leadership team and to have you hear the vision for our future and our plans to get there.

    Please make arrangements to attend a Mammoth Mountain Ski Area employee meeting at 3pm on June 19, 2013 in MCC.

    RUSTY

     
  13. Greg Swank June 7, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    The following is a memo to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area employees from MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory intending to clarify his remarks at the June 5 Mammoth Lakes Town Council meeting about someone else running the ski area.

    The communities of Mammoth and June continue to struggle with the hardships and disillusionment of the last seven years that saw a global financial meltdown, two years of recession, and four years of the worst drought in our region’s history. Jobs were lost, businesses disappeared, a town went bankrupt and a ski area was closed.

    As locals moved away, and others were making plans to follow, the world began to change. Business began to improve, jobs were created, new employees hired, home prices began to rise, companies and individuals began to invest. These improving circumstances have been imperceptible to most, but they exist, they are real, and they are harbingers of a bright future ahead.

    Our company and our community will not realize the opportunities of the future by employing solutions of the past. It is time for new vision and bold action. It is time to pass the baton to a new generation of leaders who dare to have this vision and possess the audacity to take the big risk, the guts to change the old ways and the energy to do the hard work to transform the opportunities of the future into realities.

    While I intend to be your CEO for some time, I am stepping away from ski area operations and business duties that I have been my responsibility since 1995 to make way for a new six member leadership team, including a Chief Operating Officer of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. I will turn my focus on attracting and deploying the considerable resources required for the company and the community to realize its full potential. I am excited to introduce you to this new leadership team and to have you hear the vision for our future and our plans to get there.

    Rusty Gregory
    Chairman & CEO
    Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, LLC

     
    • Benett Kessler June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      Greg, Thank you. Rusty emailed us the memo and it is on website.
      BK

       
    • Business as usual June 7, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      This sort of memo is the usual way a company communicates prior to it’s disclosure that it’s been sold. Next follows the downsizing, the shoestring budgets, the formal divestiture, the broken dreams, and sometimes financial disaster for those who made the company profitable in the first place.

      The CEO then gets to skate out the back door with the usual “Don’t take it personally – it’s only business” rhetoric.

      And this from the same guy who for years, starting as a lift operator, was allowed to run the whole damn town with the subtle threats that if you don’t do what he wants, he’ll take his ball and go home. And his stooges, (the town council) always snap to.

       
  14. Marilyn June 7, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Rob just hit the nail on the head. The flight times ARE screwy and pricing parents out of the picture is just dumb. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to encourage these people and their future skier offspring to continue to come?

     
  15. sierragrl June 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Rusty is a longtime Mammoth local…and we somehow think a hired gun, who doesn’t care a bit about Mammoth as a community, is going to come in here and do a better job then Rusty? Wake up people…your worst nightmare has come true. People loved to bash Rusty, when he was at least trying to look our for our communities. Rusty has given generously to the Mammoth schools and to the Mammoth community….kiss that goodbye. The people who’ve been calling for his ouster will see just how much worse things can be. Sad, just plain sad.

     
    • No reason to be sad June 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      No reason for sadness. He’ll come out of the situation smelling like a rose. As this is after all a small town – a very small town, it’s common knowledge how personal problems such as divorce can take it’s toll on a person. There is more compassion for the man than you might think, sierragrl.

      A fresh, new start in any direction, in any capacity is always good for the soul.

      But the fact remains, that the good people of Mammoth Lakes should never be asked to pick up any part of the tab that the mountain requires for its marketing agenda.

      Enough is enough.

       
    • SierraFan June 10, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

      Sierragrl is 100% correct! Rusty has done more than most here realize! I think the Rusty hater’s will be the same hater’s when the new management team is announced. There’s no winning everyone’s love when you’re at the top!

       
  16. ferdinand lopez June 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    boneheaded “sierra”fan,i enjoy the beauty of the sierras,not turning mammoth into vail is the best idea i know of,peace and quiet,not hammering and cash registers

     
    • Got it wrong June 8, 2013 at 6:32 am #

      Methinks lopez has a distorted idea of how capitalism (especially running a ski area)works.
      In short: No dough – no play.

       
      • Has it right June 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

        Take your dough and go !

         
    • SierraFan June 9, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      Ferny,

      You could be the only one left in town if they don’t get it together. This will leave you with as much Sierra as one can take.

       
  17. kevin June 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Everyone that complains about Mammoth catering to the rich, pricing out the common man, ect… Where else have you skied recently? This is my 4th resort job, CO, UT, WY, CA. Look at the prices elsewhere.
    Breck child care is $115, lift ticket $104, private lesson $730

    http://www.breckenridge.com/plan-a-trip/child-care-and-nursery/nursery-search.aspx#programs#Top

    Snowbird day care is $90, Private lessons are $730, and season passes are the cheapest early bird option of $999

    We are top 3 in Acreage, Lifts, longest season, and many other categories
    http://www.skiresort.info/ski-resorts/north-america/sorted/day-ticket-price/down/

    And our MVP season pass is on par pricing with the Epic pass, Squaws discounted pass, Intrawests season pass. And it sure beats Altas pass pricing.

    What exactly do you want Rusty and the mountain to give you? Dave McCoy may have priced things cheaper, but times and cost to run a place have changed. He didn’t spend money on maintaining and upgrading the property and machinery he owned, and he still went under once and then had to sell. Part of the problems stem from McCoy keeping prices too low, and not building a better infrastructure.

    And don’t forget, the main problem is Starwood was ignorant and paid McCoy too much for what they got, and the people that run the place have been fighting loan debt ever since.

    That said, I really don’t like some of the management that Rusty kept, and I think he is a smooth talker that doesn’t get to the point. But I will give credit when its due. I think he did the best he could do with the debt Mammoth had, and a bad economy. The mountain didn’t go under, didn’t need government bail out money to stay running, and we still get a place to ski next winter, while enjoying a newer chair 5. Employees get decent wages compared to Vail Corp, and we get decent benefits. Who is to say that someone new that comes in is any better. If anything, their sole reason to come in is not for you the skiers, or me the hourly employee, but to make money for those that hired them since they will have no attachment to this mountain or town.

    Overall, skiing has become an expensive activity, but so has everything else. I still feel Mammoth is the best value for your dollar. I would take Mammoth conditions on any random weekend versus the conditions at any other resort. Try skiing Alta 25 plus days a year, especially when it didn’t dump 2′ of powder and then you will really appreciate this place called Mammoth, its why I left there for here.

    Plus, like you in your job, I hope I get a raise next year, so go ahead and raise those ticket prices just a little bit……

     
    • Rob June 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

      Kevin,

      Name one of the places you cited that is as hard to get to as Mammoth. We LOVE Mammoth, we wish we could move there, we prefer the skiing over Tahoe and Utah any day, but the Mountain has to deal with the transportation logistics and the people who actually do want to sit in a car for roughly the same amount of time as they spend skiing – and that ain’t the fly-ins that frequent Tahoe, CO or Utah. We can fly to UT or CO for the same price as Mammoth, with realistic schedules that actually allow two full days of skiing over a weekend.

      The point is, Mammoth has always been the place for “the common man” and they doubled down on attracting the big dollar fly-ins and priced accordingly – without a viable fly-in option.

      You can’t tell me that they couldn’t halve the price of day care and still make a profit!
      When we didn’t have a kid, we had MVPs, did the drive, and loved every minute on the mountain, but now we don’t, simply because it is just too expensive. The Mountain’s pricing for day care and their moronic “resort fee” are dumb, and costs them much more in the long run than the small amount they may make in profit on it.

      Of course they need to make a profit, invest in the Mountain and pay their folks a decent wage – all very expensive, but if they really want to cater to families they should do just that. There IS a cost for being remote, and they pretend that there isn’t. What gives?

       
    • Clean up the eyesores June 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      I just wish the town (and the wealth that exists here) could see its way clear to patch up the town’s eyesores. We can no longer pretend these eyesores don’t exist.
      Nobody really wants the town of Mammoth Lakes to look like a run-down fishing village.

       
  18. ferdinand lopez June 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    you wont have a job if the skiiers dont show up

     
  19. salblaster June 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    nice comment kevin. it’s good to see someone stick up for mammoth mt. the price for a lift ticket is very reasonable, compared to other vacation destinations like disneyland or hawaii, and when the snow is deep it’s some of the best skiing anywhere. I’ve been skiing in mammoth since the late 70’s and have had a lot of good times up there, and i’m nowhere near super rich, quite the opposite actually. but If you love skiing and snowboarding you do what it takes to scrape up some cash and get on the slopes. not only is mammoth mt. the only reason theres a city of mammoth lakes, but the entire owens valley benefits from the skiers and snowboarders heading up and down 395 in the winter. I say good job mammoth mt. keep up the good work.

     

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