MMSA CEO goes public

Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory

He kept a very low profile for months while the Town of Mammoth Lakes agitated through its cash crisis, but Wednesday night Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory went public.  He called himself an impediment and called for living and doing business in a different way.

Sierra Wave Media talked to Gregory before Wednesday night’s Town Council meeting and then listened to what he had to say at that meeting.  In our private conversation, Gregory said Mammoth Mountain has told the Forest Service that “We intend to open June Mountain the winter of 2013-2014.”   Why does he think June will work this time?  Gregory said he is confident that the market for June can be better defined and that it will be possible to “create a more sustainable mountain.”

I asked Gregory if he supports a lift ticket tax in Mammoth.  He skirted the question by saying that there are “a lot of things to do first.  The Town budget has to be balanced,” he said.  “They need to find $2 million to pay MLLA.  It’s a difficult task.”  Gregory said new revenue was a question for another day.

At Wednesday night’s Town Council meeting, Councilman Michael Raimondo asked him the same question.  Again, Gregory said, “There’s a better way.  A business improvement district,” he said, “would be one way to go.”  He said he is “not against” a lift ticket tax but feels all of the businesses in town could participate.  Then Gregory said, “We should market like Apple.  Start with the product.  We sell an experience.”  The CEO said the community needs more money for effective marketing.

At the Town Council meeting, Gregory stood up to say that Mammoth is a town of people who want what they want, when and how they want it.  Said Gregory, “It’s a difficult town to lead.”  In a somewhat rambling presentation, Gregory said the only way out of the current problem is to “grow out of the problem.”  Gregory pointed to Tahoe’s North Star ski area.  He said he has “facility envy” when he goes there.  Why, Gregory asked do they have more when Mammoth’s mountain is superior.  He said that he is part of the problem.  Said Gregory, “I have to change my attitude and I will.”  Although he did not say how, Gregory said that he thinks the community can raise $5 million or $6 million to market the area.

The CEO said Mammoth could use this “tipping point” of the financial crisis to  change things.  In a kind of stream of consciousness monologue, Gregory came down on the idea of the community working together.  He told the Town Council that he has been “uncharacteristically absent from the issues.”  He said his own personal problems allowed him to “stand outside of Mammoth for my own health and safety and look at what we have.”  He called himself the “biggest obstacle because I have the most resources behind me.”

Gregory said he has very strong opinions on what the Council should do or not do but would not express it.  Instead, he said, “I strongly support whatever it is you need to do. I’m not going to express the opinion of my rather significant company in our small town other than to say whatever decision you make, we will not criticize but will go to work to make sure it works out as well as it can.”

The CEO said the Mountain is going to be different, “very different.”  He said Mammoth Mountain won’t compete “with the rest of you by giving our employees free passes.  We’ll figure out a way,” said Gregory, “that employees of companies who are working collectively to help the community will have the same advantages.”

Gregory said the community “can’t do the same thing harder and faster and expect a different outcome.  We’ve got to fundamentally change.”  Gregory met with applause at the end of his comments.


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50 Responses to MMSA CEO goes public

  1. upthecreek November 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    “We’ve got to fundamentally change.”
    where have we heard those words before?

    look out Mammoth here it comes…

    • Steve November 10, 2012 at 10:03 am #

      Rusty your a terrible CEO, that position was not earned by you, it was given as a return of favor. Lets see what you have done lately;
      1. Dive up the cost of tickets
      2. Lower skier visits
      3. Lobby to divert TOML, County of Mono and Utility Tax fund for subsidized air service
      4. Continue to lobby air service subsides despite the fact that continued subsides show the program is a net drain on funds.
      5. Closed June Mtn, but won’t sell (maybe fear of competition from a competent operator)
      6. Laid off long term/most dedicated employees.
      7. At the same time retaining the very top management that made the bad decisions in the first place.

      In summary; Rusty has failed the Company, the Community and employees.
      “We’ve got to fundamentally change.” I agree and that starts with new leadership.

      I don’t know what else to say; most CEO would have out of a job at number 2.

  2. Ken Warner November 8, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    What a crock! I think he’s lost it.

  3. 647(f) November 9, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    Was he drunk at this meeting? Why did he even bother speaking…

  4. Mark November 9, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    Rusty isn’t going for the lift ticket tax. If you read between the lines the town is clearly on its own.

    Had to laugh at his comment that the community has to come up with 5 or 6 million to market the area. TOML already has to come up with 2 million for something else PDQ.

    The town is still in a death spiral.

    • john Delgado November 9, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      Yep, Now’s tha time to Cash-Out those Pension Funds before they too take a Hit,,, oh yes it’s coming 🙁

  5. Unbelievable November 9, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    Why are the same old names saying the same old negative junk. All of you super brains maybe you should come up with something besides “WON’T WORK, I READ BETWEEN THE LINES, and the worst of them all, GOVERNMENT GONE WOLD.” Instead of the negative rhetoric try coming up with something positive. In this day and age it would be nice if we started coming together to figure out the predicament instead of adding to the anxiety of it all.

    • Benett Kessler November 9, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      So, what’s your positive offering?

      • Your Time is UP November 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

        My positive comment is that We need to get support of a parcel tax to help get rid of this. No matter how much I despise the whole thing I think we need to do it. We certainly can add some special taxes but with the talk of last wed I don’t see the negative statements by council as being any help. Lost services, lost employees, lost police will all have a very negative effect. We can sell some property I suppose but that will not happen quickly and we will loose loose on that too.

        • Big AL November 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

          Yes, there you go … tax the businesses more . for crying out loud .. do you think these people are independently wealthy? I know we have to pay for it somehow, but the vast majority of businesses in this area are small businesses. They are not making a lot of money, if you haven’t noticed. So how are they going to pay these add on taxes. I am not a big fan at all of selling property either, it might have to be an option.
          We have to stimulate the economy, how can you do that if you cut jobs, cut pay, raise taxes, increase restrictions on businesses.
          You put pay, cut jobs, you are effectively cutting income through sales taxes …. lowering the tax base, you raise taxes on businesses, increase restrictions, you put them out of business (mostly small businesses) you then have cut jobs, you lose tax base, income. increase unemployment costs.
          And then our so called civic leaders give away money to speculators, yep give it away, with the help of the judicial system. This is what the current federal administration is doing, it is the easy way, they know what Romny proposed would work, but it would not net the investors what they think they should be getting. you stifle business, you choke the economy, simple as that!

          • Mark November 11, 2012 at 7:58 am #

            You stifle business, you choke the economy. You got that right Big Al. And when you tell a business owner to move to Arizona the jobs the business provides goes with him.

      • MJA November 10, 2012 at 7:56 am #

        Go the bankruptcy route, it would be far better than giving the airport condo developer a single dime. Ballas set the town up, don’t ya know.


    • Mark November 9, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      Unbelievable – TOML’s troubles have zero effect on me. I’m not hear to offer anything positive without being paid a consultant fee.

      I am only here to watch the ship sink.

      Rusty is playing his own cards very well, and his ship isn’t sinking.

    • Ken Warner November 9, 2012 at 11:33 am #

      It’s really not “our” problem. It’s the business communities problem. They overreached as a group with Rusty leading them down the garden path. They destroyed the essence of a nice, simple East Sierra town that was once just a nice place to live and incurred debt that they can’t easily pay back. Now they are trying to get the average workaday person to pay for their mistakes. Let them suffer until the pain causes them to act responsibly toward the community and their own best interests. And let them discover that their own best interests is not trying to be Aspen or Vail or Tahoe. Their best interests is just being Mammoth and not the World’s destination resort.

      Rusty’s rhetoric is as empty of substance as a Romney campaign speech. How can one be positive about nothing?

      • Big AL November 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

        Yes Ken I agree with you to a certain extent .. business did extend it’s self, but the government enabled them as always .. but the ones who will suffer, as always are the small businesses that are struggling to make ends meet, while the big fat kats skate.

        It was the small guys who did it, it was the big fat kat speculators (Carpet baggers) that came in to make tons of money on everyone’s backs, er out of everyone’s pockets.

  6. quietstorm November 9, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    It sounds like Rusty has been in therapy and that is a good thing. Everything he said could be applied to personal matters too. So, hats off to him for turning a corner! I am sure it was difficult for him to stand up there in a different color shirt (not black!) and present a new side to himself…especially holding off on giving his opinions! I like the new Rusty! Let’s see how it translates to a new Mountain experience!

    Humility is such an ice-breaker and a way to reach across the aisle.

    • Mark November 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      yep, way to go Rusty. Time to ween the town and towns people off of the rusty tit.

  7. JeanGenie November 9, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    No free passes for employees? Who’s Rusty gonna get to work at the mountain? What a nut. AND, ticket prices have reached $100/day, and this is not in line with other ski areas! Pretty soon only the ultra-rich will ski.

  8. Kk November 9, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    The applause was probably cause everyone was glad that he stopped speaking.

  9. Mark November 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    I suspect everyone that thinks Rusty should bail the town out also voted for Obama.

    With the highest taxes in the country nobody is in a position to grow out of anything. I just got a call this morning offering me money to move my business out of State.

    • Wayne Deja November 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

      Mark…If Romney were elected,chances are you would’ve been offered money to move your business out of the COUNTRY……

      • Big AL November 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

        *how many businesses … have left* ooops

    • Trouble November 10, 2012 at 12:29 am #

      Mark- do us hard working middle class folks a favor and move. Try Arizona.

  10. Trouble November 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    ” We should market like Apple”, no Rusty, you should learn to treat your employees and comunity with half the class that Apple does.

    • Mark November 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      I can’t believe all the nambies in Mammoth. Rusty doesn’t owe anyone anything but a legal wage for a days work, and that’s only if he employes you.

      The sooner some of you jackwagons accept the fact that Rusty is not your savior, the sooner you can start on your own path to prosperity.

      • Trouble November 10, 2012 at 12:22 am #

        Mark- I would hardly call Rusty my savior, how about the corporate devil. Owners with your “legal wage” mind set will make unions strong again. I can’t believe people really think there is something wrong with a person getting a fair wage and job security.

        • Mark November 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

          It just might be your opportunity to form a lift ops union, whining and finger pointing will get you no where.

          We’ve already run most of our manufacturing out of the State and out of the Country by not being able to manufacture a competitive product. People can go ski and look at pretty mountains lots of places besides Mammoth. Raise the prices enough so you get your fair wage and job security and it could very well be the nail in the coffin for ski/tourist industry in Mammoth Lakes as employers will have to raise prices or go out of business. If you want to make more money I’d get out of the customer service business. Unfortunately since locals have stifled just about every other industry in the area, you really might need to move to a more industry friendly area if you want your fair wage and so-called security.

          You have no God given right to get big city pay in your little tourist town.(unless you earn it) Time to wake up and smell the coffee.

      • SierraFan November 11, 2012 at 8:39 am #

        WELL SAID MARK!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally someone here speaks in real truth. Folks, do you think out of towner’s looking at this blog think… hey let’s go to Mammoth so we can be around the negative nay sayers? I doubt it!! Let’s help our leaders with positive influence, ideas and such and move forward. Rusty does deserve a great amount of credit for his approach.

        • Ken Warner November 11, 2012 at 10:27 am #

          The question you are dodging is: should the same “leaders” that got us into this mess, continue to be our leaders?

          Putting your head in the snowbank and pretending everything is hunky-dory is not going to fix anything.

          • SierraFan November 12, 2012 at 11:21 am #


            It’s not at all about pretending anything! It’a about putting the negativity aside and moving forward with what we have. I know it’s not perfect and probably not what the bloggers here are looking to hear but it is what it is for now so let’s stoop complaining and find a way to survive with a smile.

        • Trouble November 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

          SierraFan- what approach is it that you think Rusty deserves credit for? Do you realize how many lives in Mammoth and June that he has really damaged?

          • SierraFan November 12, 2012 at 11:25 am #


            I think you like stirring up negativity and feeding it to others here. I get it that things aren’t the way you like but then it probably never will be. Rusty stood up and humbly took a step back to and basically said that he’s changing his approach! Which means that he felt that he wasn’t doing it right in the past. He certainly didn’t have to step forward and admit anything and keep doing business as usual but he took a long look and is now changing his ways. God on him for taking the very public step!

  11. enoughalready November 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    What is your company plan now Rusty? A continued “low road employer” betting on part-time – big turn over with no benefits employees and no loyalty? Or have you seen the light in your moment of clarity. Your loyal employees are almost gone. Is it time to turn the game around where everyone benefits. Try being the “high road employer”. Let us see you and your stakeholders take a big hit. Let us see the ticket prices come down. What about offering free first time lessons to build up a new customer base. Show them the fun of skiing (not the desperation of your failed business plan). Let’s see the masses return. Let us see your ground game. Do you really mean no free passes for your employees?? Really? That does not sound game changer. Rusty….. are you there? Or are you still just talking about it?

    • Mark November 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      Seems everyone in Mammoth wants Rusty to supply them with some type of welfare. Rusty has a business to run and it’s not your business or the TOML.

      I suggest you all get out there and find a good job, you may have to move to do it.

  12. Steve November 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    If you tax my business anymore I will not be able to stay in business or even eat. I love how Urdi and Rusty two of the higher paid people in town just pass it off as no problem.

    Both these guys need to suffer a little so they know how the rest of town is feeling these days.

    Lord know it’s all about their paycheck and damn the workers and small business owners.

    How do these people sleep at night? Maybe they are just so clueless they will never get it.

    I was about to open a new business in town, instead I am opening it in LA, Mammoth is just one big joke right now.

    Rusty you need to reflect a bit more pal, at this point your CLUELESS.

    • Big AL November 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

      Steve, exactly, just as I said in an earlier post. Small businesses as with the middle class has to bear the burden, for the top 30% who are raking in the piles, stacking it up and locking it in the safe.

      It would be one thing if they would spend more of what they make, but they hoard it! We see this in how they “protect their profits” and do not return the money back into circulation by giving employees some benifits or using the money to improve third business, but they just hoard it!

      Small guys struggle to stay afloat in their wake, and take on the water when the wakes really swamp them.

      Greed greed greed.

      • SierraFan November 11, 2012 at 8:47 am #

        Big Al,

        Robin Hood was a fairy tale! You can’t have the rich redistribute just because we all need it! I guarantee that if you were in Rusty’s situation you would be the same. You have no idea what the finances are at the mountain! My guess is the mountain is a tool for real estate profit and makes very little profit from operations. Again, if you or many of the blogger’s here were in business yourselves with the risk that goes along with it, you would sing another tune. DO you work for profit or charity?

        • Big AL November 12, 2012 at 10:43 am #

          Wait .. what fairy tale was I telling? I am talking about the big business such as the owners of Mammoth mountain, that is no fairy tale, it is no fairy tale that small businesses suffer for the bigger multimillion .. multibillion dollar businesses. I’m talking about the speculators such as MLLA who have raped and pillaged the town and people who live here as well as the people who come to visit.
          I am not in business, you’re right but I know scams when I see them, I see small businesses suffering, I see the same characters causing the problems.

          How am I telling a fairy tale?

          • SierraFan November 12, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

            Big Al,

            The fairy tale of taking (not earning) from the rich and giving to the poor. We’re in a welfare mentality anymore and not looking to our own abilities to earn our living. It would be easier to fully rely on another but it’s not (in my opinion) the American way. I’m not saying you’re that way just folks in general. I know there’s a balance that is needed but it seems that more and more, we’re looking for the easy way out.

          • Benett Kessler November 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

            Leveling out income inequality is not “the easy way out.” Information shows that the rich are getting way too rich and the middle class are getting poor. Regulations on the high stakes gambling on Wall St. would help. There’s just so much money in circulation and if the rich guys amass billions, those on the other end have less. Nothing dishonorable about consideration for others and closure of all those tax loopholes.
            Benett Kessler

          • Big AL November 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

            I totally understand about the easy way out, and I don’t like that either, we have too much of the entitlement going on now days, as what you are talking about.

            What my point is .. people want to make business pay, that is all they can see is make business pay, they gout us unto this. Well you’re right they did, but so did the rest of us to some extent.

            And so people say, tax the business, make them pay for this mess, it’s easy to see that and say that. But what people do not understand, is that by doing that this, the ultra rich business owners will just hole up with their money, they will not want to let it out, if they are going to have to pay more on it, they can afford to hold onto it.

            The less wealthier business owners, will have to shell out the higher taxes. They have no choice, and they pretty much are not in the position to afford this. So they have to do other things, cut costs, quit giving employee benefits, cutting medical coverage … things like that laying off employee, passing the higher cost onto the customer.

            You put a higher tax burden on people when the economy doesn’t afford them to pay this extra tax, how do expect that to help the state of the economy. When you cut jobs, how does that help stimulate the economy.

            OK so I need to know where the part about stealing from the rich to give to the poor comes in here … Where am I telling that story?

    • SierraFan November 11, 2012 at 8:54 am #


      Why would anyone want to go to LA to start anything? They tax you like crazy there, city tax, county tax, higher sales tax, etc. If you’re thinking about leaving Mammoth for Greener pastures then try Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, Washington, etc. LA is a BIG mistake when it comes to business unless you need foot traffic for your business.

      • Trouble November 11, 2012 at 10:38 am #

        SierraFan- you seem to forget that California has the largest population and biggest economy in the nation. Why Wyoming?

        • SierraFan November 12, 2012 at 11:27 am #


          That’s why I asked if he needed a store front. If not, go somewhere with far less traffic, lower to no taxes and avoid the concrete jungle of LA with the vast majority of rude folks.

  13. 1skigal November 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    Northstar envy????Really????
    I hope Mammoth NEVER becomes Northstar-south!

  14. Trouble November 11, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    The jobs are not going to Arizona , they are really going to China and India. The economy in Az sucks right now.

  15. Ken Warner November 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Taxes vs. Economy

    California has the largest economy of any state —

    And one of the highest personal income tax rates —

    Nevada has no personal income tax and one of the smallest economys in the United States.

    Why is that when we all know the conventional wisdom is that low taxes are necessary for a healthy economy?

  16. Cara November 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    When does the town council meeting air? At what point during the meeting was Rusty’s speech given? Can anyone narrow down a time when I can see the speech for myself? I assume channel 52 but please correct me if I’m wrong. I would love it if KSRW would post the clip of Rusty’s speech here at their website.

    • Benett Kessler November 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

      We don’t have access to the Town Council meetings to air on the website, although possibly we could. Rusty’s speech came after Larry Johnston and before Johnny Goetz and Rich McAteer. I believe the meetings air on Channel 51. Don’t know the schedule. Meetings can be viewed on line on the Town’s website. Very easy to do and handy to watch whenever you want.

  17. concerned November 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    you had it coming mammoth, with your arrogance and better than thou attitude. cant say im surprised. its been a long time coming. and the fix for mammoths problems are tax this, cut that. ita gonna take a miracle to pull the town through, but no matter what, it will never be as good as it was way back when, those days are over.good luck!


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