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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concerned
concerned
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Cara
Cara
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
10 years ago
Reply to  Cara

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… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

Taxes vs. Economy California has the largest economy of any state — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP And one of the highest personal income tax rates — http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/check-taxes-in-your-state.aspx 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… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago

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

1skigal
1skigal
10 years ago

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

Steve
Steve
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

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… Read more »

SierraFan
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  Big AL

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… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

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… Read more »

SierraFan
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  Big AL

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… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

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… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  Big AL

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… Read more »

SierraFan
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve, 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… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

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

SierraFan
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Trouble,

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.

enoughalready
enoughalready
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Mark
Mark
10 years ago
Reply to  enoughalready

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.

Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago

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

Mark
Mark
10 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

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… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago
Reply to  Mark

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
Mark
10 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

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… Read more »

SierraFan
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  Mark

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… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

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
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

KEn, 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… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

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
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

Trouble, 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… Read more »

Mark
Mark
10 years ago

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
Wayne Deja
10 years ago
Reply to  Mark

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

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Deja

*how many businesses … have left* ooops

Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago
Reply to  Mark

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

Kk
Kk
10 years ago

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

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
10 years ago

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.

quietstorm
quietstorm
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Mark
Mark
10 years ago
Reply to  quietstorm

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

Unbelievable
Unbelievable
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
10 years ago
Reply to  Unbelievable

So, what’s your positive offering?
BK

Your Time is UP
Your Time is UP
10 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

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… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Mark
Mark
10 years ago
Reply to  Big AL

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
MJA
10 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

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
Mark
10 years ago
Reply to  Unbelievable

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
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Unbelievable

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… Read more »

Big AL
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

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… Read more »

Mark
Mark
10 years ago

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… Read more »

john Delgado
john Delgado
10 years ago
Reply to  Mark

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

647(f)
647(f)
10 years ago

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

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago

What a crock! I think he’s lost it.

upthecreek
upthecreek
10 years ago

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

look out Mammoth here it comes…
GGW

Steve
Steve
10 years ago
Reply to  upthecreek

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… Read more »