Time to move past acrimony

rustyconference2When 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.”



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28 Responses to Time to move past acrimony

  1. MJA June 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    Peter Pan and Bravehart clips? Guess you had to be there. =

  2. quietstorm June 25, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    Actually, Mammoth is OUR mountain home! … we live here. Enough with the marketing gimmicks … catchy phrases will not bring people here to ski and play…. a strong and confident community will.

    • MJA June 27, 2013 at 6:54 am #

      = “Don’t feed our bears”. Is it our bears and our mountain or the bears and the mountain? I think the later is just or best. =

    • Ken Warner June 27, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      Couldn’t agree more. And there are so many other ways to get there.

      Cerro Coso; Mammoth Hospital; renewable energy — all offer more potential and stability and prosperity in the long term than being a tourist trap and turning the local people into dancing bears begging for dollars in the street.

      When I reentered the educational system, I started at Palomar J.C. In 1979 it had about 15,000 students — mostly older people who realized that they needed an education to survive in an increasingly competitive world.

      Palomar J.C. now has over 35,000 students. That’s nearly more than the population of Mono County. They all need services, supplies, places to live. What would Mammoth Lakes be like with only 15,000 year round resident students? Or is that too different than dancing bears begging for dollars for you to comprehend?

      There is very limited educational opportunities in Mono County. It’s a vital and necessary service. The opportunity is just laying there waiting — begging to be fulfilled.

      But hey, lets have another tequila drinking contest — yeah, that’s the ticket. That will make us rich.

      • erik simpson June 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        According to the 2010 census, there are 14202 people living in Mono County. If Palomar JC really has 35000 students, it’s not ‘nearly more’ than Mono’s population, it’s more than twice the population. The thought of Cerro Coso College having 15000 students is kind of scary. What would Mammoth be like with that sort of population increase? I’m not so sure all the changes you’d see would be positive. For a lot of us, it’s nice that the population in Mono County is low. My entire professional career was spent in urban settings, and while there are things available in such situations, there’s also things available here that you don’t have when you’ve got a lot of people around.

        • Ken Warner June 27, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

          You are right. And Inyo County has about 18,000.

          Mono County is pretty big. Lots of room. And remember, the Mammoth Lakes General Plan calls for 52,000 people at one time which is really scary.

          We already have a lot of people around. Are you really afraid of living in a community of young people trying to improve themselves with an education? It wouldn’t just happen overnight. It would be a process of change and adaptation.

          I’d prefer a stable year round population of 15,000 to 20,000 people after they’ve settled in and become a community. Better than 50,000 “visitors”. What’s so positive about that?

          But don’t get all upset. It probably won’t ever happen as long as the community goals are only to bring ever increasing numbers of “visitors” to town.

  3. SCOOBY DOO June 25, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    He should of shown A SCOOBY DOO CARTOON. Exactly What he is doing, A human version of the cartoon. Yes he is the villian in this episode and has the rest of the town council and Mono county Sups helping him destroy our once bitchen town.
    Leaving not Leaving, make up your mind. Mammoth will never change and will continue to be a greedy ski area til all the upper management get the boot. That’s why I didn’t buy a MVP pass.

  4. lefty June 26, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    He should have shown clips of the “Money Pit” with Tom Hanks.

    He should focus on making our mountain, and or June Mountain AFFORDABLE for the masses, and while doing so be PROFITABLE. Focus on that instead of borrowing 350 million, airport subsidies, and condo developement at the base of our mountain. That’s what we need, more condos.
    Maybe he should have shown a clip of “Dumb and Dumber”

    • An employer's market June 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      Developers have to develop. It’s what they do. (Councilman Lehman is a developer).

      Connect the dots.

      As the economy gets tighter, and those with the dough prefer the Deer Valleys, the Aspens and the Vails, the mom & pop ski resorts do what they must to compete.

      Look for downsizing on the mountain, with the remaining employees having to work twice as hard … or get fired.

      It’s an employer’s market. Get used to it.

      • SkiJohn June 26, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

        Lehman is a real estate appraiser; has been for 20 years. He’s appraised my house a few times through the years. He owns a plot of dirt in Paradise that he’s done nothing with and doesn’t seem eager to do so anytime soon. Hardly a “developer.”

        • What's your hurry, Mr. Lehman? June 27, 2013 at 10:00 am #

          @ SkiJohn –

          With respect. Okay. Words were designed to confuse people. If the word “developer” (as it pertains to what Councilman Lehman does or does not do to earn a living)irks you, perhaps then merely entertain the very real possibility that Councilman Lehman has friends in places and can use his influence in the community that can quite easily lead to the development of every square inch of available land in Mammoth Lakes.

          In so far as style, I was struck by what our new mayor stated in a recent council meeting that he felt it inappropriate to regularly have no discussion on community matters and to instead bring items to a quick vote (with no further discussion).

          You know the type – you know the individual. These are tough times and people do funny (and sometimes precarious) things.

          • SkiJohn June 27, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

            I just find it funny that he’s been labeled the evil developer when he appraises homes for a living. At the end of the day, I could care less, but when I’ve talked with him off and on through the years, he strikes me as having good intent. He grew up here, and like many of us, doesn’t want to see sky rise hotels all over the place. However, Main St is a mess and needs an overhaul. Yes, that’s development but the right kind, if you ask me. Ken has an excellent idea: growing our community college, but that’s development, isn’t it? It isn’t all bad, especially if we use local craftsmen. Frankly, I think the real problems on TC are Eastman and Wood. I really hope some younger, more honest people run against them. They are the sole reasons why our town is in the mess we’re in and they need to go. How they can look in the publics’ eyes is beyond me…

      • Plutocrat Beat June 27, 2013 at 7:32 am #

        It is, has always been and will forever be a consumers market in the snow / water industries of the eastern Sierras.

        The latest “marketing” moves by the brain trust and his lackeys on the town council will prove my point this very season in spades.

        Pigs get slaughtered, Boss Hog and the piglets will soon discover who controls the bottom line or cash flow. While they continue to concentrate on a longer turn at a nipple, the results they will achieve in my opinion is to collectively suck this sow dry, again.

      • Ken Warner June 27, 2013 at 10:54 am #

        The word “developer” can be interchanged with “exploiter” — develop with exploit.

        • One term and your out June 27, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

          Gone forever are the days when elected officials were passionate about the welfare of the community – not just how they can personally gain from a situation.

          However, voters can still be quite active and boot them out of office.

          Also, however, much damage (graft) can and does occur while in spite of any public recusing or non-recusing activities. It is unbelievably difficult to boot any self-serving official from office. Almost requires an act of congress – and don’t think for a second the elected officials do not know this.

          I’m for a One-term-and-your-out policy. But I am also quite naïve.

  5. Darth Vader June 26, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Maybe during their next Main Lodge movie night they can show the scene from Star Wars were Darth Vader is choking people out from across the room with this death grip. Much like the grip the mountain has on the town. lol. But seriously –

    If you want to change that the town needs new development, better shopping, a better main street, better activities in town for families etc. And these things are not the mountain’s problems. They are the town’s problems to solve. The mountain is responsible for the mountain and their businesses. They don’t run the town. The mountain answers to the their share holders first. The town needs to make it’s own progress separately from the mountain.

    • alice June 26, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      ” The mountain is responsible for the mountain and their businesses. They don’t run the town.”


    • HAHAHA! June 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      First we’ll start by closing access to motorized users, then we’ll farm out all the campgrounds to concessionaires and raise all the camping fees (Cash only please). Then we’ll close down access to a bunch of lakes to protect the frogs and polliwogs, then we’ll expand wilderness boundaries – to keep ALL recreation out (except foot traffic).

      How does that sound for starters????? HAHAHAHAH!

  6. Mickey Mouse June 26, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    GDP up from 0.4% to 1.8%? That’s not good. People in So Cal are doing better but how long will that last? Money is getting more expense….

  7. alice June 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    He forget to mention June Mountain. It must have been an overisight.

    • alice June 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm #


      Where’s the edit function?

    • Apple Annie July 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

      Don’t take it personally, It’s an apples and oranges thing.
      There is different caliber of people that go to Mammoth. Another caliber that prefers June.

  8. Steve June 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Didn’t we see this before.

  9. Steve Taylor July 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    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.” Rusty, Thats not a new Idea Thats what Dave Built !! Glad to see you coming around …. keep thinking that way Rusty you are really on to some thing 🙂

    • Bemused July 6, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      Rusty, like our town council, has now been reduced to a transparent embarrassment…

  10. Worst group ever July 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    There are reliable sources around that are openly speaking about the group that is even more inept than the town council – the Mono County supervisors.
    The Mono County supervisors are clearly the absolute worst group ever. Total ego maniacs who love to drag out a simple situation that results in hours of unnecessary BS discussion.

  11. Bounce 'em out of there July 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    There is only one reason the Mono County Supervisors (the worst we ever seen yet) allow hour-long discourses on the most minute and trivial “issues” …
    they like to pretend they are something they clearly are not and get off on the power of it all.
    Get rid of all of them … ASAP!

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