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 Comments
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Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago

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
Trouble
10 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

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

old mmth
old mmth
10 years ago

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
Rodney
10 years ago
Reply to  old mmth

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

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
10 years ago
Reply to  Rodney

Rodney,
How much?

Jeff B.
Jeff B.
10 years ago

“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… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Jeff B.

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”.

MJA
MJA
10 years ago

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

=

mucho donero
mucho donero
10 years ago

Living high while others must now live low.

salblaster
salblaster
10 years ago

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… Read more »

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
10 years ago
Reply to  salblaster

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… Read more »

enoughalready
enoughalready
10 years ago

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… Read more »

SierraFan
SierraFan
10 years ago
Reply to  enoughalready

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… Read more »

No tears for Gregory
No tears for Gregory
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

“…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
enoughalready
10 years ago
Reply to  SierraFan

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.… Read more »

Seth
Seth
10 years ago

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… Read more »

sierragrl
sierragrl
10 years ago
Reply to  Seth

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… Read more »

pMack
pMack
10 years ago
Reply to  sierragrl

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

Econ 202
Econ 202
10 years ago
Reply to  pMack

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
had enough
10 years ago
Reply to  Seth

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.

Steve
Steve
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Rob
Rob
10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

“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..

JeanGenie
JeanGenie
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  JeanGenie

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… Read more »

Rob
Rob
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

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… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
10 years ago
Reply to  Rob

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
Rob
10 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

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… Read more »

karma and economics
karma and economics
10 years ago

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… Read more »

upthecreek
upthecreek
10 years ago

“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
Big AL
10 years ago
Reply to  upthecreek

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… Read more »

Jon
Jon
10 years ago
Reply to  upthecreek

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… Read more »

upthecreek
upthecreek
10 years ago

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
Alanmademedoit
10 years ago
Reply to  upthecreek

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…..?