Rusty Gregory talks about June Mountain

In March, Gregory went to the Town Council to explain the 75 layoffs at Mammoth Mountain. This time, he will go to the community of June Lake in early July.

Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory said it was time to make a decision on June Mountain.  The small ski area, he said, continued to lose $1.5 million per year with a  drop in skier visits.  Gregory’s efforts to create some development in the past to boost the ski town had fallen to community criticism and other factors.  Last Thursday, Gregory announced closure of June Mountain immediately and through next winter season.

The CEO made it clear there are no plans to sell June Mountain.  He said the work now is to put the smaller mountain in a position “to support itself.”  Gregory said June used to host up to 100,000 skier visits per year.  The business downturn, higher demand for Mammoth Mountain and other factors have led to no more than 45,000 skier visits in a season.  He said the last six or seven years have seen deficits at June.

Pressed for his plans at this point, Gregory said his intention is to be accountable to the employees and then “figure out a sustainable vision.”  He said it would take the Mountain, the community and the Forest Service to figure out what that is.

When news of June’s closure came out Thursday, immediate reaction in many parts was to find a buyer for June Mountain.  Asked if he would sell, Gregory said, “No.  Not really.”  He added that rumors that Mammoth is for sale are not true.  “We are in good standing,” he said.  “We’re paying our loans.”  Gregory added that it is a difficult time for the ski industry generally.  He said last season saw 61 million skier visits nationwide.  That number fell to 50 million this season.  “We’ve never seen this kind of national market malaise,” said Gregory.

The CEO said if any mistake were made regarding June it might have been that he didn’t see the need to close it down earlier.  Even so, he’s not open to selling it.  The CEO said he wants to find an alternative for a resort-oriented community and vision for the future.  He described the process as working with the Forest Service and others to get approvals for a new plan, find the financing and make it happen.

Gregory pointed to the fact that no one else could run June Mountain under the current scenario.  “We’re probably in the best position to execute any plan,” he said.  How long will planning and action take?  Gregory said, “It will take as long as it takes.”

A chronic problem for June Lake – a lack of bed base to bring in the needed number of visitors.  Gregory said the original two reasons for the purchase of June Mountain under Dave McCoy were the fact that Mammoth Mountain was overcrowded in the mid-80s and that there was a vision of linking the two ski areas.  Those two reasons no longer exist.

What about the deep economic devastation to the June Lake community as a result of the June Mountain closure?  “It’s an awful decision to have to make,” said Gregory.  “I’m a member of the Mammoth and Owens Valley community and have been for 34 years.  I had to look at it as a businessman who runs a large company here, but I’m a member of the community as well.”

At that point, Gregory shared the personal side of the hard business times and continued personal attacks over his decisions.  He said there are “blogs and letters – we’re hearing in spades from people about this decision.”  Gregory discussed the personal impacts of often mean comments about him and his work. He said his family has suffered from the ongoing and negative responses on the layoffs and other past decisions.  Gregory said he and his wife Bonnie have separated.  He said for one thing she does not want to engage in the rough life of corporate decisions, and he still does.    “We have an empty nest at home,” he said.  “We’re going in different directions.  The environment is taking us away from each other.”  He said that he does accept that pressures from the community go with his job.

And, to the community he will go with a Town Hall meeting in early July in June Lake. It appears the June Lake Community Advisory Committee will meet and Gregory will speak July 10.  Meanwhile, the Forest Service is trying to catch up with the sudden news about June Mountain.  Public Information Officer Nancy Upham said this:

“The Forest Service does not take this decision by Mammoth Mtn. Ski Area lightly and we will work with MMSA officials regarding the terms of their permit.    We are interested in a long-term sustainable operation, and right now we have more questions than answers, which may be the case across the board.   District Ranger Jon Regelbrugge is out of town right now and is expected back next Wednesday.   When he returns he will be sitting down with Rusty Gregory and others from MMSA to begin to address the ramifications and the decision that MMSA has made to take some time for future planning for June Mtn. Ski Area.”

 

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33 Responses to Rusty Gregory talks about June Mountain

  1. upthecreek June 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Pressed for his plans at this point, Gregory said his intention is to be accountable to the employees and then “figure out a sustainable vision.”

    Where have we heard that before???

    Like I said before Rusty has his ” iron in too Many Fires”

    MMGW

     
    • Alanmademedoit June 30, 2012 at 7:40 am #

      Funny! How he can turn things askew so that it is not as it all seems….more promises, more disillusion – more heartache, more smoke – more blame, more mirrors….blah, blah, blah, blah!heeeeeey! Wait a minute….you said you never read these blogs…..?

       
  2. upthecreek June 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    “He said last season saw 61 million skier visits nationwide. That number fell to 50 million this season. “We’ve never seen this kind of national market malaise,” said Gregory”

    Sorry Rusty welcome to the new norm the Depression of 2010 and beyond “Less is MORE”

     
    • Big AL June 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      Just so you know Dr Facts, I voted thumbs up on these two posts, because of the truth in it, I have taken to pretty much voting thumbs down on pretty much all of your other posts, because you start in with that neocon pundit crap. As I said I feel you have something to offer here aside from that other garbage. Just saying.

       
    • Jon June 25, 2012 at 12:18 am #

      The ski industry nationwide did far better than Mammoth Mountain. Nationwide, there was about a 12 percent drop in skier visits (based on Rusty’s numbers), while Mammoth had, at last count, a drop of more than 20 percent, at least and maybe moore (anyone have the final number?). So nationwide the ski industry had a tough year, buth it was twice as bad at Mammoth. Lookin in the mirror; not at a “national trends.”

       
  3. karma and economics June 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Like the Outsourcer-in-Chief running for president, it’s all about keeping himself and his rich pals rich (richer still, due to the phenomenon of ever-increasing buying power). If there is such a thing as karma – then richie-riches like Gregory and Romney will return as slugs living in plastic coffee cups in toxic landfills.

     
  4. JeanGenie June 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Sell it, obviously you can’t run it properly. Ooh skier visits down from last year? Gee, don’t think it has anything to do with no snow and inflated lift prices do ya? Never forget when the host I was riding a chair with one beautiful March day said they might close Mammoth early cause skier dollars spent were down, there were tons of people skiing, but they just weren’t wasting their money on fluff.
    Go back to skiing as a sport, not an incidental to rich people shopping and getting drunk.
    Yeah Rusty, just what Mammoth/June needs, get further into debt with more loans to fulfill your “vision”.
    Which is gonna be mountain ghost town, and we’ll all be backcountry skiing cause thats all we’ll have!
    I said it before, pricing Mammoth right out of the market.

     
    • Ken Warner June 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

      That’s well said JeanGenie. What if lift tickets were $40 at June Lake? Do you think the people would come then? You bet they would. And they would have money left to spend in the town.

      Ski hills aren’t really money makers. They draw people who then spend money in the community. That’s how Mammoth used to work.

      Then they tried to fluff up the “experience” with expensive marketing and events and all the other nonsense like terrain parks and people in costumes on the hill and expensive, high capacity lifts that only make slopes so crowded that the real fun of skiing is lost in the crowds. They tried to be an amusement park and people just aren’t amused by that stuff anymore.

      Get back to basics. Get back to reality and June Lake will thrive. I think people are just tired of pre-packaged “experience”.

      But first, June Lake ski hill has to be taken away from Starwood and MMSA. As long as they control the operations nothing good will happen.

       
      • Rob June 22, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

        Ken,

        I have to disagree. The Town of Mammoth Lakes has grown into something larger than a small hill with antiquated lifts can support. I know there are plenty of folks who want to ski in an uncrowded resort, but the economics wouldn’t work. MMSA and Starwood overreached and built up too much luxury ignoring the regular folks who drive up in regular cars and trucks and who can’t afford the Westin, but they did open up the MVP which kept me and my wife coming. We come up late Friday, ski all day Saturday and Sunday and drive home after stopping to eat in town. We stay wherever is cheapest, eat in town and make sure we buy all our sunscreen, lip balm, hats, gloves, socks, boots, etc. and have our skis tuned at Footloose because we want to support the Town. We appreciate the new Chair 5 and the high speed lifts because we want to ski as much as possible. There ae thousands like us who camp, fish, backpack, mountain-bike, hike, etc. in the Mammoth and June areas year-round. Ignoring the dollars from So. Cal. will doom Mammoth and June.

        If June can be more of a destination (NOT some Vail-like abortion, but a good, mellow ski town with places to stay and eat), it will get more visitors from Mammoth. Talk to any business owner – they want more visitors, not less.

        With Mammoth and June, the hills have to make money or the towns don’t. You’re right, they could tone down the luxury, I don’t need that crap. I just want to ski all day, get a good meal, a few drinks, and sleep in a comfortable bed so I can do it again the next day. If I have to stand in a long lift line and not ski, I won’t come.

         
        • Ken Warner June 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

          Rob, you say you disagree and then describe your ski day just like I suggest is the way skiing would work at June Lake.

          I don’t think we disagree all that much…

           
          • Rob June 25, 2012 at 10:20 am #

            Ken,

            I think we agree that June should be a more mellow ski town, not Vail. But you also talked about opposing high capacity lifts and “expensive marketing and events and all the other nonsense like terrain parks and people in costumes on the hill,” and those things are how you get new people from the Bay Area and So Cal to come to Mammoth and June. Lets be honest – getting to Mammoth and June is not as easy as getting to Tahoe, Utah or CO. The way to overcome that physical barrier of distance and limited flights, combined with icy two-lane mountain roads, is marketing and events. Have you been to the Mammoth Festival? Great even that brings lots of people up in August. Just one example. I don’t snowboard, but I know that lots of snowboarders are drawn to terrain parks. They only take up a couple of trails, so what is the harm?

            I do want June to thrive, and without The Village, but whatever happens, local skiiers, using passes, will not keep the doors open anymore.

             
  5. Steve June 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I know MMSA has made plenty of mistakes and the closing of June Mtn was a huge shock for me as well. We can sit here and blame management for this, but we should also consider in the past when Mammoth Mountain wanted to connect the two ski areas. This would have been a great idea and the synergies from this move could have prevented the sad events that is happening now. Maybe there can be some good from this and this will get the authorities to be more business friendly.

     
    • Rob June 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      “the authorities to be more business friendly”

      There’s also a large population of the public that doesn’t want to see any progress in the Eastern Sierra. Friends of the Inyo come to mind..

       
  6. Seth June 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    This decision is not about June, nor Mammoth, nor skiing, it’s about the economic interest of a select few that have no human connection to the Eastern Sierra. Mr. Gregory works for Starwood Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm, and the fact that he is a member of the community is largely irrelevant. He does not call the big shots.

     
    • sierragrl June 22, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      have to agree with you Seth,. the reality is were lucky they kept Rusty on as CEO….can you imagine if they’d brought their own person in from LA or Texas? Be thankful we have Rusty looking out for us, under the parameters he has to with of course. He is out to make money for starwood, but at least he cares about the Eastern Sierra and is a member of our community

       
      • pMack June 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

        “Rusty looking out for us”———————poor child, you have a very very long hard life ahead of you.

         
        • Econ 202 June 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

          Rusty has been looking out for June Lake for a long time, to the tune of 1.5 million a year. He just can’t afford the welfare payment any more.

           
    • had enough June 22, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

      Thanks Seth for saying what needs to be said about Rusty. He is just doing the lob he is paid for. If some of the people who comment on this site had a job there would be a lot less negative posts here.

       
  7. enoughalready June 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    If Rusty just found out that June was on the losing end in the last 6 or 7 years, then he has been asleep at the wheel and got caught with his pants down. I’m pretty sure June Mt never turned a profit since the day it was bought. (I believe that was stated in an earlier article too.)

    Just keep lowering the bar, Rusty. You could not cut “World Class”. You could not become the “Employer of Choice”. You might succeed at being the best ski area in Mono County, but come to think of it, the back country is rapidly becoming the best area to ski.

    Rusty failed to deliver Mammoth Mountain and TOML to its promised destination that he and Interwest shoved down our thoats. The town of Mammoth Lakes is going belly up on the airport debacle. While you have gone to Washington DC with you hand out stretched asking for more money for improvements to the airport. What about the town? What about the people and your employees? You slashed more jobs (again) sighting a low snow year not bad business practices. You dropped the sights on June Lake and pulled the trigger. The wreckage is piling up behind you. Your facade has crumbled.
    I hope Barry and the stakeholders are paying attention. More attention than you ever have in the last 20 years.

     
    • SierraFan June 23, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      Enough already,

      I doubt Rusty just found out about the lack of earnings for june mountain. More likely is that he didn’t want to make the decision he recently made because he does care. My guess is that he was doing everything possible to keep a loser open but just couldn’t convince those that live in the area that change was needed in order to bring more folks in. There’s no doubt many things that have hampered the growth of the area that many of us may not know so it’s difficult for many to get behind the “Rusty doesn’t know what he’s doing” band wagon.

      He can’t control the snow fall, the community, the economy, etc.! All he can control is the marketing and when the skier’s arrive, the ski experience. I’m sure he he could wave a magic wand then things would be much easier. But the way it is, he has to find a way for the Mountains (both of them) to become profitable no matter private or an equity situation. Business can not survive if it’s always losing…. period! I love this place as much as the next person but something has to change or the status quo will remain. A decision needs to be made by all involved on what’s best for the June community as well as Mammoth Mountain and the town.

      If this business were owned by any of us, we would be forced to make the same decisions as Rusty! And there’s little doubt we would do much different. We need to support him, the town of Mammoth and June Lakes. So let’s rally behind him and his family instead of beating them down.

      In the end, this place will be stronger, leaner and a very positive experience for everyone.

       
      • No tears for Gregory June 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

        “…we need to support him (Rusty Gregory)”

        Okay, I’ll support him when he sells some of his premiere properties (he has property everywhere) and reduces his rather huge lifestyle closer to the lifestyle of those he has just fired (for “economic reasons.”)

         
      • enoughalready June 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

        Go right ahead and support him. Rusty has failed. On a local level he what is wrong with this country. He is greed driven with no concern for others. Support him?
        No way. He is a 1%’er. I don’t support greedy 1%ers. Rusty failed to deliver the goods as CEO. He will continue to fail. He will continue to lose support in the community (s) Zip it up and pack it up. The facade has crumbled.

         
  8. salblaster June 22, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    have to say i’ve never been a big fan of june mountain. i started skiing in the 7th grade at mammath mountain with the school ski program about 6 times a year by my senior year i was tearing down just about every run up there. a few years after high school some friends wanted to go to june mt for 10 dollar wednesdays, so i went, skiing every run up there and wishing i was at mammoth mt. for me mammoth is the best ski resort i’ve ever been to, its huge all the steeps you could ask for. miles and miles of runs. gettin some barbaque for lunch on the deck of the snack shack backside at chair 14. good times. thats why i could’nt understand why even have june mt. when you got mammoth right there. thats like going to disneyland and spending all day on mr toads wild ride when space mountain is right down the street.

     
    • JeanGenie June 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Sal,
      Not everbody is a Space Mt. type of person. Sometimes Mr Toad is a nice change.
      My kid’s been skiing since he was 3. Year before last he came up and skiied Mammoth and June in the same day. The face of June rivals anything Mammoth has. I bet if June wouldv’e fixed that Gondola thing they had that broke they would be doing better. Its not easy getting up to the lodge witha bunch of little kids on that crummy center pole chair. So while Mammoth gets all these new highspeeds, June can’t even get a decent ride to the lodge. What kind of decision making is that?

       
  9. mucho donero June 23, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    Living high while others must now live low.

     
  10. MJA June 23, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    What about turning June Mountain into a municiple ski area such as Snowbird in Utah?

    http://www.skiinghistory.org/forums/showthread.php?2-municipal-or-publically-owned-ski-areas

    =

     
  11. Jeff B. June 23, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    “Figure out a sustainable vision” translates to scaring the community and forest service into green lighting development plans so they can 1) get the real estate shell game going, and 2) turn June into a year round “destination resort” selling over priced recreation/restaurants/goods. The ski industry hasn’t been about skiing for a long time and June doesn’t fit the model for development that the industry has been built upon for the last 10-15 years. Malls, restaurants, condo hotels, golf courses – that’s what developers and investors want to build to get their profits out of the local economy. For them, skiing is a side show to the main event.

    I will miss the old June Mountain.

     
    • Ken Warner June 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      I think the same way. Closing the ski area at June is just a way to force Starwood’s development plans for the area. “Grow or Die” really means, “Let us have our way or we’ll destroy you”.

       
  12. old mmth June 23, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Look at the price of lift tickets and lunch on the mountain. in this economy? Charge less bring in more. might just balance out. YA THINK?

     
    • Rodney June 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

      Look at how much the price of a lift ticket is insurance.

       
      • JeanGenie June 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

        Rodney,
        How much?

         
  13. Trouble July 6, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Like would like to know if Mammoth Mountain is also setting itself up to declare bankruptcy ?They clearly over paid. Hell, the the Dodgers owner declared bankruptcy one day and walked away with a billion the next. Nice.

     
    • Trouble July 6, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      Sorry, I would like to know if Mammoth Mountain is setting itself up to declare bankruptcy?

       

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