01/23/2019: A Letter from our newly elected President, Jonathan Scott
First and foremost, a sincere Happy New Year to all! As this new year unfolds and we embark on new beginnings, it pleases me to be able to provide the membership with a positive club update and a quick introduction of myself as the incoming club president.
My name is Jonathan Scott, I grew up playing golf and tennis at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY. I have a 15-year-old son at CHS, and my wife Jacquie is the former club golf prefessional. I am currently the General Manager and Chef of Sky High Brewing in downtown Corvallis. Prior to coming on board and helping open Sky High, I spent 20 plus years as a chef and food service director/general manager of various local operations. My business experience ranges from small local businesses like Michael's Landing and the Gables, to large corporate food service at Lifeworks Restaurant Group. My hope is that my combination of business operating experience and my private club upbringing will allow me to be a worthwhile partner of our management and staff while we transition into the reinvention of our club.
This reinvention starts with our General Manager, Randy Folk. When we hired Randy last year, he set one goal, to turn the club around and make it profitable. I am pleased to report that he met his goal! In 2018, Corvallis Country Club turned a profit for the first time in many years. Mind you, it was not a huge profit, but it is a huge victory and a monumental swing from the large losses we have endured in recent years. Big kudos to Randy, management, and staff as F&B sales were up, costs of goods sold were down and operating at an industry average. Labor was managed efficiently, and direct expenses were dialed in drastically after hours of digging through expenses and trimming the fat. This, combined with our future endeavor on the horizon, only points towards new beginnings, positive growth, and the development of a new image for the club.
A quick update on the sale of the club. As you may know, the sale did not go through on December 31st as planned. We do however have a new closing date of March 31st, 2019. As the Mayo Group was doing their due diligence, they found there were tax issues that needed to be straightened out before the papers can be signed. The board is taking the necessary steps to clear up the issues ensuring the sale will advance. I will say that the Mayo Group is still clearly 100% committed to moving forward. There has already been a large cash infusion to the club allowing us to begin clearing outstanding debt and formulating future operations, plans, membership drives, etc. As we approach the closing, I will absolutely keep the membership up to date.
Cheers to our fresh start!
11/20/2018 We have received 242+ two year commitments, which is in excess of the 75% required as a condition of Joe Mayo's proposal. That requirement is satisfied, then, and we now move on to completion of due diligence. There should not be any surprises that surface during due diligence, and both the Board and Joe feel that we are in agreement about the items of substance in the contract. In summary, then, we anticipate relatively smooth sailing the rest of the way. Joe and his team will delve deeply into their investigations right after Thanksgiving now that this hurdle has been cleared, and we are hopeful that a first draft of the contract will be in the hands of our attorney, Steve Adkins, for review by December 1 at the latest. We expect to close escrow prior to December 31, as originally scheduled. Thank you to the members who have expressed their belief in the club's future by making this commitment. I assure you that the promise made to you as part of your agreement (the specified dues levels remaining intact for a minimum of 2 years) will be included in the contract. Our second century is going to get off to a very, very promising start. - John Brenan, President
11/02/2018: As of Today, Phase 1 of the Bunker Project is completed. Holes 1,2,3,4,17, and 18 are completed and the greenside bunkers on Hole 5 are completed as well. Phase 2 of the Bunker Project will begin Spring 2019
10/31/18 Elections to fill the open Board of Director positions will take place on November 8th. The following three candidates are the nominee's running for the two open positions:
Biography - Born and raised in Michigan, married to my high school sweet heart and best friend Joanne (46 years this December), living in Corvallis, Oregon. We have three grown children, Rob who lives in Lebanon, Oregon, married and obtained his MBA from Oregon State University and now works at Linn Benton Community College, Rod who lives in Pensacola, FL and is in pharmaceutical sales, & Cassie who lives in Dayton, Ohio and is the manager of a Red Lobster Restaurant there. Randy is a graduate of Ashley High School & Michigan State University and grew up in the industry. Randy is owner and General Manager of CoEnergy Propane, which has offices in Albany & Redmond Oregon as well as an operation office in Corvallis. In 2009, Randy moved his family to Oregon to take over the operation of CoEnergy. CoEnergy Propane has grown at an average rate of 7% over the past 9 years. Presently, Randy is on the Member of the Linn Benton Community College Board of Education and also sits on the Board of the Linn Benton Community Foundation. Randy is also a Board Member for SafeHaven Human Society. Randy is currently the President of the Pacific Propane Gas Association, with includes four states (Oregon, Washington, Alaska, & Hawaii). As such, he presides over the Board of Directors of the association and is the Committee Chair of its Governmental Affairs Committee. Randy is also the Treasurer for the PPGA Political Action Committee as well as a member of the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Advisory Committee and a member of the NPGA Benchmarking Council. Randy and his wife Joanne joined the Corvallis Country Club in 2010. Over the years, Randy has been a member of a number of private clubs, including the Greenville Country Club in Greenville, Mississippi, the Jackson Country Club in Jackson, Tennessee, Ramshorn Country Club in Fremont, Michigan, Sugar Valley Country Club in Bellbrook, Ohio, and Spring Hill Country Club in Albany, Oregon. This will allow me to bring many ideas from my past at these clubs as well as from being a business owner and operator for many years. Randy has filled a director’s seat here at the Corvallis Country Club since January of this year, taking over for a director that resigned. This means that Randy has been a part of the firing of Touchstone and the move to the present situation that we are in today at the Corvallis Country Club. Corvallis Country Club has the potential to become the premier private club in the central valley. I believe that there have been positive steps in right direction made the past year, now it’s time to move in a positive direction by brining younger members in to mix with the long-time members we have. We are positioned to be a new and innovative club that everyone will want to spend time at with their friends and business associates. I want to be a part of making our club something that we will all be proud of and that can start now. The “millennials” that we need to attract have a completely different mindset that the “baby boomers that make up the majority of our membership. We need to adjust to attract this younger group. I believe I can help the management do that. With continued positive moves in this direction and making sure that member’s needs and desires are heard, I firmly believe that Corvallis Country Club can be all that we as members expect it to be.
Derek Van Bronkhorst
Biography - I attended Oregon State in the early 1980's and graduated with a degree in Speech Communications in 1985. I was a junior member of Corvallis Country Club during my years at OSU. After graduation I returned to the Bay Area where I spent my career working in marketing and communications for high tech and consumer companies. I moved back to Corvallis in 2015 as a segue to retirement. I still consult and work with the OSU Advantage Accelerator and with the College of Business. In the past two years I have been more active with the Club. I have done some special projects for the Board and I have served as the head of the membership over this past year, helping to successfully create new programs to bring in more than 60 new members this year. I moved back to Corvallis in large part because of my experience at Corvallis Country Club and I want to do my part to help it succeed moving forward.
Biography - I have been in the community for over nine years and a member of the Club for the majority of that time. In addition to my profession, I have held leadership positions in the Rotary Club of Greater Corvallis, Leadership Corvallis, the City of Corvallis Budget Commission, and the Oregon chapter of Radiology Business Management Association. I have coached Future Spartans Basketball, CHS Girls Golf and am a current candidate for the CHS Boys Head Golf Coach position. This is an exciting time for the Club. We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us. We increase membership and the new owner will reward our efforts by further investing in Club amenities and enhancing our members’ experience. I believe the Board needs to set the tone of the importance of membership growth. By leveraging relationships, implementing sound recruitment processes, and exploring varied membership growth ideas, I have successfully grown membership locally with the many organizations I have led. As a result, I am confident that I can help you grow Club membership as a Board member. The friendships and memories formed at the Club have greatly enhanced my life, and for that reason alone, I feel compelled to give back to the Club. It would be an honor to join your Board and continue to build on the good work done by legacy Board members as we set a course through unchartered waters.
10/25/18 With the member vote of the Club's sale in place, we now start the next phase. As what was outlined in the purchase proposal, part of the sale's contingency is a 2 year commitment from at least 75% of our Golf Members and Social Members. On Thursday, October 25th we will be sending out via the post office a commitment letter asking for your 2 year commitment. To fully satisfy this contingency, we ask that you please either mail in or drop off your commitment letter to the Club by November 15th, 2018. If you have any questions, please call Kristin Foyle or Randy Folk at 541-752-3471.
ELECTION OF NEW BOARD MEMBERS / ANNUAL MEETING
With everybody's focus concentrated on the recent balloting on the sale of the club's assets, the forthcoming annual meeting (Thursday, November 8 at 7:00 PM) and election of new Board members has received scant attention. We need now to turn our consideration to that, and we need members who are interested in doing so to declare their candidacy for the 2 open Board seats.
Once the sale is complete, the Board will take on a new role, but it will remain a vitally important functioning part of the club's operations. It has been agreed that there must be an entity that confirms the terms of the contract are being adhered to, and the Board will fill that role. It has been further agreed that the non-profit corporation, "the Corvallis Country Club", should continue to exist for at least 3 years, and the Board will, of course, represent its interests and propose changes to its by-laws. Furthermore, there will be a member advisory committee to represent the members to the new ownership structure, and the Board will be charged with that as well. So next year's Board will have much of substance to wrap its arms around and will set the tone for member / management relations for years to come. While it will (hopefully) be a much less dramatic year than 2018 has proven to be, it will require dedicated people with a strong commitment.
Golf members in good standing are eligible to run, and the term is for 3 years. If you would be willing to put your name forward, please get a written statement to that effect to our General Manager, Randy Folk, by Friday, October 26 at 5:00 PM. Include a relatively brief biographical statement, which can also include, at your discretion, reasons for why you're running, what you hope to accomplish, etc. Those will be disseminated to the membership in an issue of the Chip & Chatter on Tuesday, October 30.
I think I would be remiss if I didn't include herein a word or two about the two members whose Board terms come to an end on December 31. Randy Camp took over a vacated position for this year and has been an extremely productive director. In my opinion, his strong position and leadership in the exit negotiations with Touchstone are particularly noteworthy. Mike Sheets, as past president, is finishing his fourth year on the Board, and what he has done for our club over that time is surpassed by none. It is not hyperbole to state that we would never have made it to October, 2018 without Mike. We all owe a debt of thanks to both these men.
We have some big shoes to fill. I look forward to seeing who among us will step up to do so.
John Brenan, President
Latest update on the Acquisition: Approval from membership was obtained for the Acquisition with an overwhelming 92.4% yes vote. Since the motion required a two-thirds majority vote, the motion is carried and the result of this vote is binding on the Club and membership. We will keep updating this page with further changes and announcements.
9/12/18 Our CCC Board has okayed the release of both proposals that were presented (Sanders & Mayo). Listed below are both proposals in full detail.
Letter of Intent to Purchase
Buyer –TC2 Investments LLC (Scott Sanders)
Seller – Corvallis Country Club INC.
Property – 1850 SW Whiteside Drive
TC2 Investments LLC (herein called the “buyer”) is offering up this memorandum of sale to the Corvallis Country Club LLC (herein called the “seller”).
Buyer wishes to make an offer on the sale in the amount of $800,000 for all real estate, personal property, accounts receivable and inventory.
1 – Buyer is to relieve all debt that is owed to several parties including private notes, bank notes and any other notes that are not of knowledge to the buyer at this time. Approximate amount for said notes is believed to be around $800,000.00.
Sellers to work with the buyer on the Corvallis Country Club Condo Association note - either by way of transfer note in lieu of the debt repayment or transfer monthly payments to buyer each month for the remainder of the note. As understood by buyer, note cannot at this time be sold or transferred. However, there is a deal with a current member that has loaned the seller based on that amount of the note. Details can be worked out at a later date to ensure that the seller does not have a taxable event on such sale or transfer. Buyer also has the right to negotiate each note that is not secured to the property itself. In the event that this is allowed the amount above may be lowered and any reduction in the notes will be put back into the remodel of the property.
2 – Sellers to provide to buyer an actual count of how many golf members and social members are currently in the club
3 – Sellers to provide a current year to date profit and loss statement for 2018 and 2017. Profit and loss statement to include – payroll, any and all expenses related to member fees, food and beverage, pro shop sales, and outside events.
4 - All account balances, and reserves shall transfer to buyer upon the close of escrow, including the sand bunker project monies currently being held. In the event that the sand bunker project is complete by the close of escrow, this point will be mute. In the event that the project is not complete, buyer agrees to complete bunker project with the funds being held.
5- Buyer has no intention of developing the current golf course as it currently is laid out; provisions are to be made to the membership that this will always remain a private golf
course. Layout, or revamping or remodel of the course is allowed at the discretion of
buyer, i.e.: sand bunker projects, tee box remodel, new greens etc.…
6- Buyer reserves the right to remodel or develop any part of the tax lots that are not on
currently on the golf course – including but not limited to the pro shop, locker rooms,
clubhouse, tennis courts pool area and parking lot. Buyer is aware that these areas need
attention and will contribute a minimum of $1,000,000.00 to such remodel in the first
year of ownership. As far as what is to be remodeled first, clubhouse or pro shop/locker
rooms, that is to be decided by the buyer. It is the intention of the buyer to put an
additional $750,000 to $1,000,000 into the entire remodel of the club, again that will be
at the discretion of the buyer as well.
7 – Buyer also agrees to put up $100,000.00 for interest payments to all loans during the
escrow period and for the general operations of the Corvallis Country Club. These funds
are only being given as a loan to the seller. In the event that buyer is not selected as the
new owner or escrow does not close by date set by both buyer and seller all monies are
due back within 30 days of notice that buyer is not selected or escrow fails. An accurate
accounting is to be given to buyer as to where this money will be spent.
Timing is of the essence –
Corvallis Country Club
(an Oregon Nonprofit Corporation)
Proposal for Transaction
BRIEF OVERVIEW AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
The management of the Corvallis Country Club (hereafter “Club”) has represented to Mr. Mayo (hereafter “Mayo”) that the Club is in a dire financial position and needs both an infusion of capital in the immediate near term and to effectuate a sale of the club to create long-term viability.
The Club is losing money and is experiencing negative cash flows. Barring completing a transaction, whether with Mayo or others, Mayo believes the Club will be forced into bankruptcy or receivership.
Club management has represented that full golf memberships have declined about 50% in the last twelve (12) or so years, with similar declines in social memberships. Management has also indicated that it believes that substantial capital expenditures for facility upgrades will enhance both the image of the Club and the membership experience at the Club and will be required to drive membership back towards historic levels. Without substantial membership gains, the Club is not economically viable.
This proposal has two important central concepts: 1) To continue operation of the property as a private golf and social facility for the benefit of members; and 2) To provide an opportunity for a profitable business venture for Mayo.
Presented below are the main provisions to be included in a transaction. Necessarily, other terms normally associated with a transaction of this nature will be negotiated, but these are the overall, guiding concepts that must be included.
1. In exchange for the Club transferring all of its property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, Mayo will agree to relieve (via assumption or liquidation) the Club of all liabilities (other than undisclosed or contingent liabilities). This is subject to the Club’s decision regarding its handling of loans made for operational cash which is subject to another proposal included with this proposal.
2. Mayo will commit to efforts to operate the club in a manner that provides a first-class golf and social experience for members. Mayo has no intention of building additional structures on the property or selling off any property so that others may do so. Mayo will also commit to certain capital expenditures, as detailed below. Subject to Item 12 below, Mayo will continue to own and operate the Club as a private golf and social club.
Additionally, Mayo will not develop any of the Club real property for any purpose other than purposes related to operating the club as a private golf and social club.
3. Mayo will agree to renovate the clubhouse. This renovation will entail approximately one million two hundred thousand dollars ($1,200,000) of upgrades and improvements. In consulting with an interior designer, Mayo has determined that this investment commitment will be within the range necessary to create the intended look and feel. The range of cost has been calculated using $150 per square foot and renovation of about 8,000 square feet of building (the designer has indicated that this is an appropriate, ball park figure). The renovation will likely include reworking the floor plan to facilitate an upgraded entry and reception area, an upgraded bar and grille area, an upgraded fine dining area, an upgraded banquet and event area, and upgraded bathrooms. The renovation will not include expanding the footprint of the building or adding additional floors to the building. Working with architects and designers, the goal will be to create a facility that has a high-end feel appropriate for a first-class club. Mayo envisions a facility that has a feel similar to the lobby and bar and restaurant areas of the Benson Hotel in Portland or the Davenport Hotel in Spokane.
4. If the clubhouse renovation costs less than the committed $1,200,000, the remaining funds will be dedicated to other capital projects.
5. Mayo understands that a project to renovate the bunkers is scheduled for this fall, but that the funds set aside for this project may complete only about 75% of the project. Mayo will commit to finishing the bunker renovation project in 2019.
6. Contingent on achieving certain membership levels (for example only, 275 golf memberships and 150 social memberships), Mayo will commit to renovating the locker room building. This renovation will likely include reducing the size of the locker rooms while remodeling them to be qualitatively consistent with the clubhouse renovation and utilizing the remaining building area to install a fitness facility.
7. Contingent on achieving certain additional membership levels (for example only, 325 golf memberships and 175 social memberships), Mayo will commit to renovating and upgrading the pool area. This would not include expanding the size of the pool, but rather upgrading the pool and area around the pool consistent with the quality of upgrades and renovations done to the clubhouse and locker room.
8. Mayo will commit to providing best efforts to bring the club back to economic viability. That commitment will be limited to three years or aggregate operating losses of $375,000, whichever occurs first.
9. When Mayo decides to liquidate his interest in the Club, consistent with item 8 above at the earliest or at some other time well into the future, Mayo will offer the club assets to then current membership. That offer will be to an Oregon nonprofit corporation (substantially similar to the current corporate structure) established by the members to purchase the club assets.
10. Mayo’s offer to sell the club assets back to the members will be subject to both a minimum and maximum price. Valuation of the assets shall be done based on a going concern golf and social club. The minimum price will be book value of the non-current assets, without regard to accumulated depreciation or accumulated amortization. The maximum price will be twelve times adjusted EBITDA (essentially, the price is not to exceed valuation based on an 8.5% capitalization rate). In either case, an adjustment to the sale price will be made to account for positive or negative working capital. The sale will be an all cash transaction and any non-current liabilities will be satisfied with the sale proceeds.
11. When Mayo makes an offer to sell the club assets back to the members, the members will have ninety (90) days to accept the offer and an additional one hundred twenty days (120) days to complete the transaction.
12. If the members, through their Oregon nonprofit corporation, do not accept the offer to sell the club assets or are unable to complete the transaction, Mayo will then be free to sell the assets without restriction.
OTHER ITEMS TO BE NEGOTIATED (in no particular order)
1. Member Committees. I intend to establish a few member committees in order to get feedback from the members. One of these should be a Member Liaison Committee tasked with monitoring performance of contractual obligations. I will provide information regarding various items, including operations and some selected financial information. Another would be a Golf Course Committee to provide input and suggestions regarding the physical facilities, most importantly the golf course. I’d also like to establish a Food and Beverage Committee to provide input on bar and restaurant issues. Finally, I’d like to establish a Social Committee to provide input and suggestions regarding social amenities and member events.
2. Maintenance Standards. As part of the Definitive Agreement, we should include language that addresses golf course and facility maintenance standards. I think we can refer to this in the Agreement, and include it as an Exhibit.
3. Membership Levels Triggering Further Renovation Obligations. Items 6 and 7 above refer to target membership levels that would trigger additional renovation obligations. This needs to be negotiated once I have an understanding of current member levels, projected operating revenues and costs, and other information I don’t currently have.
4. Time Tables for Clubhouse Renovation. As an exhibit to the Agreement, we can set forth time tables for the clubhouse renovation. I anticipate the process will require engaging architects, engineers, designers in order to get the plans prepared. Then I’ll have to get bids from construction companies. At this point, I don’t know how long that will take, particularly since the construction market is booming and everyone is busy. We’ll need to
come up with some language that provides a reasonable way for the members to know that we’re making progress on the project.
5. Procedural Framework on Mayo’s Exit. Pursuant to Items 9-12 above, we should include an Exhibit with the Agreement that outlines the procedure to be followed when the time comes for my exit.
1. According to, and in compliance with, its Bylaws, the Club membership must authorize the Board to move forward on the transaction in substantially the form outlined in this document.
2. At least seventy-five percent (75%) of the golf members must agree to a two (2) year membership agreement. At this point, I intend to use the current membership agreement and modify it to reflect the new dues rate and the two year commitment. In exchange for this commitment, Mayo will agree to not increase monthly dues during that time for those agreeing to the two-year commitment. There will be no other assessments or fees, other than the dues commitment. If a member making this commitment is not able to fulfill the obligation due to death, disability, relocation, or the like, I will not pursue any action against them to recover the remainder of the obligation.
3. At least seventy-five percent (75%) of the social members must agree to a two (2) year membership agreement. At this point, I intend to use the current membership agreement and modify it to reflect the new dues rate and the two year commitment. In exchange for this commitment, Mayo will agree to not increase monthly dues during that time for those agreeing to the two-year commitment. There will be no other assessments or fees, other than the dues commitment. If a member making this commitment is not able to fulfill the obligation due to death, disability, relocation, or the like, I will not pursue any action against them to recover the remainder of the obligation.
4. Upon appropriate authorization of the membership, the Board agrees to retain counsel to guide them through the transaction.
5. Mayo’s obligation to complete the transaction is contingent on completion of due diligence to Mayo’s satisfaction in his sole and absolute discretion.
Corvallis Country Club
(an Oregon Nonprofit Corporation)
BRIEF OVERVIEW AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
The management of the Corvallis Country Club (hereafter “Club”) has represented to Mr. Mayo (hereafter “Mayo”) that the Club is in a dire financial position and needs an infusion of working capital.
In October of 2017, the Club sold real property that was previously subject to a long term lease. In exchange for the real property the Club received a promissory note (hereafter “Condo Note”) for $495,000 payable monthly for twelve (12) years and bearing an annual interest rate of 3.50%. The Condo Note has a remaining balance due of approximately $465,000.
Sometime shortly thereafter the Club determined that it needed operating cash. Instead of liquidating the Condo Note the Club borrowed $300,000 from Mike Sheets (hereafter “Sheets”). The remaining balance on the Sheets loan is approximately $285,000. The payments on the Condo Note are being used to make the payments on the Sheets loan. The Club now seeks an additional $100,000 in operating cash.
Mayo’s position is that any cash infusions for operating cash, the Sheets loan and any other new loans, be secured and serviced by the Condo Note.
TWO OPTIONS REGARDING A CASH INFUSION
If the Club desires to maintain ownership of the Condo Note, then the Sheets loan and any other new loans will also remain with the Club and be serviced from the proceeds of the Condo
Note. The Sheets loan will not be part of the sale transaction. If this is what the Club desires to do, Mayo will not make a loan for working capital and the Club should locate others that are willing to do so.
Alternatively, if, as part of the sale transaction, the Club desires to be relieved of the Sheets loan and any other new loans for operating cash (not to exceed $100,000), the Condo Note will be transferred as part of the sale transaction. If the Club desires to do this, Mayo will make a loan for operating cash, subject to normal security protections commonly part of such a loan with this type of collateral. As part of the sale transaction, Mayo will take possession of the Condo Note and Mayo will relieve the Club of both the Sheets loan and the Mayo loan.
9/8/18 Joe Mayo has provided some information about himself to give to our membership prior to the Town Hall Meeting. Below is the bio he wanted to share with you:
I grew up in Portland. My parents bought the house where I grew up in 1967, and they still live there. I have lived in Spokane, WA for almost twenty years. I have two younger brothers. One is a high school English teacher in New York and the other was an ER physician in Florida. I have some longstanding family ties to Corvallis. My English teacher brother is an OSU graduate (1986) and my first wife grew up in Corvallis (she was CHS class of 1984 and her siblings were CHS classes of 1980, 1976 and 1972). I have an undergraduate degree (B.A.) in economics from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. I have a law degree (J.D.) from Willamette University College of Law in Salem, OR. I also have an advanced law degree in Taxation (LL.M) from New York University School of Law in New York, NY. I am an attorney licensed in both Washington and California. I held an Oregon CPA license (which I let lapse because I later had no need for it). I have been an adjunct professor of law at both Gonzaga School of Law in Spokane, WA and at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, CA.
For the past 12 years I have been involved in numerous businesses, either as an owner or as a member of the executive management team. Prior to that, I had various corporate accounting jobs, and worked both in public accounting and law. From 2004 until 2007 I was the Chief Financial Officer of a company that had facilities in Northern California and Spokane. That company generated $120,000,000 in annual revenue and had over 400 employees. From 2006 to 2009, I was one of two owners in a business that had nearly 1,000 employees and generated over $23,000,000 in annual revenue. I currently own several operating companies, in different industries, that combined generate more than $10,000,000 in annual revenue.
I generally acquire businesses that are distressed to some degree for one reason or another (financial issues, management issues, no exit strategy for aging owners, etc.). I then work to “fix” them and get them profitable. For lack of a better description, I am a “long term buy and hold” investor. I don’t look to buy companies and then part them out and get the best price by selling parts that may be worth more than the whole. I have been successful in taking a long-term view that the whole will be worth more than the parts and bringing businesses back to profitability. Once I achieve that, I generally hold long-term.
As an investor/manager, I consider three standard sets of stakeholders – Customers, employees, and owners. I generally view them in this order: 1) Employees; 2) Customers; and 3) Owners. I believe that if I take great care of my employees they will take great care of my customers and profit will then flow to the owners. For this reason, my businesses have low employee turnover rates, particularly among my core employees. In each of my businesses I provide employer paid health insurance, health savings accounts (with employer match), 401(k) plans (with employer match), paid vacation, and long-term disability coverage (at employer expense). I generally pay annual bonuses to my employees based on the results of the operation. I intend to continue these practices.
How we got here:
· Until the early 1990s, the Club was managed by the board of directors elected by the members.
· At that point, the Club hired a small company, Golf Enterprises, Inc. (GEI) to manage the Club on a “lease” model. GEI collected all revenues and paid all bills, paying the Club a percentage of the gross revenue for a fund set aside for capital improvements. GEI paid for $1 million + of improvements including a modern irrigation system in exchange for a 20 year management contract.
· A few years later GEI was acquired by American Golf (AG), a much larger company. When the golf course was expanded, AG paid for some of the cost of improvements in exchange for an extension of their contract.
· In 2015, AG gave notice of their intent to terminate the management contract in early 2016. At that point the Club membership had declined significantly and the Club was operating at a loss.
· In early 2016, the Club hired Touchstone (TS) to manage the Club on a “fee” model, with the Club paying a fixed fee plus incentives for the management services. The bottom line income or loss was the Club’s responsibility.
· TS was unable to control costs or increase the membership to allow the Club to be financially successful. In 2017, in order to provide funds to cover losses, the Club sold the land on which the Country Club Condos were built and which had been leased to the condo association ($1,000 per month). The sale was for $500,000, and payments on the sale were spread over time to minimize the capital gain tax on the sale. The Club then borrowed $300,000 against the condo sale proceeds to fund past losses.
· The board of directors negotiated an early termination of the TS contract effective in early 2018. The board has been managing the Club since.
Where we are now:
· The Club hired Randy Folk as general manager just before the TS contract was terminated. He has brought the Club operations to about break even, including food and beverage being at about break even.
· However, we have debt service on about $500,000 of long term debt and an additional $350,000 in current liabilities. In order to complete the bunker project, the Club has committed to about $150,000 of additional lease contracts which will be paid for the first year by the bunker assessment funds, but will have to be paid from Club revenues after that. So, total long-term debt will be about $650,000.
· So even though we are breaking even on operations, our cash is being depleted by the debt service.
· We currently have about 250 golf members. As recently as 2006, we had 475 golf members. Each golf member is worth about $4-5,000 of revenue to the Club per year with almost no additional expense.
· Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to significantly increase the number of members.
· Dues increases have led to members leaving the Club.
· So the Club had two problems. First is the debt which we cannot afford to pay. Second is membership. Even if we could get rid of the debt, we would still be at break even without any funds for adequately maintaining and improving the Club.
What alternatives have been considered:
· In early 2018, the board at Randy’s suggestion formed a finance committee to look at all aspects of the Club’s finances and make recommendations to the board.
· The committee prepared a budget showing the Club running out of cash in September. Recent financial statements show we are roughly on target with the budget.
· The committee has met regularly and considered many alternatives.
· First, with Randy’s help and with the board, the budget has been cut as deeply as possible without adversely affecting services to members. Some of these cuts, such as skipping aerification and sanding of the fairways, are not sustainable. Also, the budget does not fund anything but bare minimum maintenance and nothing for improvements.
· The committee met with a Benton County Tax appraiser to find out if there could be any savings. Adjustments were made to our valuation and buildings, and small savings were achieved.
· The report by Jim West, Dick Moon and Doug Tindal on potential savings on water and energy from 2017 has been revived and an ad hoc group formed to work on implementation.
· Additional members would obviously be the ideal solution. Randy has advised us that we need a significant improvement in our facilities and the product delivered to members to be able to add to our membership total.
· The committee considered the sale or development of portions of the Club’s land including the tennis court area and the cart barn area. Consultations with a developer indicated that the gain would be less than enough to pay off the debt and take more time than we have, require capital we don’t have, and be uncertain based on the requirements of the City of Corvallis.
· Additional funding from members was considered including loans, contributions, or equity ownership. A formal survey of members showed a response at a very low level. Less formal communication with members was consistent with that result.
· A stock offering to members (and possibly non-members also) was considered. The committee found a couple of clubs who had successfully done this but it had taken 18 months. Research also indicated that compliance with securities laws would be cumbersome and expensive.
· A proposal was brought to the committee to sell the clubhouse, pool and tennis courts to a restaurant operator for enough to pay off the debt. The Club would then operate as a golf only club. The committee contacted a real estate broker for an estimate of the value. Members of the board involved in the food and beverage industry indicated the value would not be sufficient to pay off the debt and the condition of the kitchen and clubhouse would not be attractive to a buyer. The committee did budget projections for a golf only club using optimistic assumptions (eliminate all debt, lose all social members, keep all golf members at current dues rates, eliminate all expenses associated with the portion of the property sold) that showed the Club to still be at just break even for operations leaving no income to cover deferred maintenance and improvements.
· The committee and the board each considered a proposal for the Club to go semi-private, i.e., allow public play for green fees. It was decided that any public play would have to be severely limited to avoid cannibalizing member dues to public play. Also it was decided that this might be more of a member marketing tool than a revenue raiser. In any case, this was not seen as a solution to Club problems.
· Since none of these options would solve the problems on a timely basis, the committee considered the sale of the Club to an investor. An ad hoc committee of the board developed specifications for a possible sale to present to potential investors. The specifications attempted to protect Club members by keeping the Club private, requiring capital improvements, keeping dues affordable, etc.
· Club members were apprised by email of the opportunity to purchase the Club. Informal contacts were also made to certain members by management. Some members requested additional information but no offers surfaced.
· The Club received two outline proposals to purchase the Club more or less consistent with the specifications outlined above. One proposal was from an outside investor recruited by Randy Folk, named Joe Mayo. The other proposal was from a member.
· The board and finance committee reviewed and analyzed both proposals and the board selected Joe Mayo with whom to negotiate further.
· The Club would sell all of its assets to the buyer in exchange for being relieved of all liabilities.
· The Club would remain private.
· The buyer has no intention to develop any of the property.
· The buyer will make certain improvements to the property starting with a renovation of the clubhouse at an estimated cost of $1.2 million. Later improvements contingent on membership increases would include a renovation of the golf building to include an athletic club and new locker rooms. A third round, again contingent on membership increases, would be an upgrade to the pool area.
· The buyer has outlined an exit strategy for himself that would include offering the Club property back to the Club members at a price based on formulas as a golf club and not development prices.
Q. Everything you said about the improvements overall sounds great, but you hardly mentioned the golf course. That's the main reason I'm a member. What are the plans there?
A. Whoops. Guilty as charged; I should have said more. You already know that Joe Mayo has stated that he'll finish the bunker project if the funds we have ($85,500 thus far, safely tucked away in the Board Account) are not sufficient for the entire job. Let me share with you some of Joe's own words in correspondence with the Board on this question of the golf course. "...it is in my best interest to make sure the course is as good as it can be and I plan on making the efforts to achieve that." "I've seen a copy of the project list assembled by the prior course superintendent, and much of what is on that list are projects I would want to do." "As part of my annual budgeting process I create a capital expenditures budget, so this (golf course work) would play right into that planning." Joe has also stated that he is agreeable to basic general standards being in writing in the agreement. We need have no concerns about the golf course; it's going to be well taken care of.
Q. We've heard an idea that we could solve all our woes by pretty much shutting down everything but the golf course, that this would save enough money for us to carry on. Did the Board consider this option? Why aren't we pursuing it?
A. Yes, we did, and so did the Finance Committee. Two different studies of that proposal came to the same conclusion - it doesn't pencil out, and it won't work. In addition to direct golf course upkeep expenses, you still have to pay for utilities, property taxes, insurance, accounting, carts, the pro shop, some form of management, a bartender, and so forth. You would lose all outside F&B revenue, all outside events like the Corvallis Women's Best Ball, the vast majority of your member F&B revenue, all dues revenue from current social members, and some percentage of dues revenue from golf members who didn't sign up for just what would be offered under this plan. Both studies determined that dues would still need to be in excess of 90% of current levels just to cover the expenses outlined above - and you still have the debt service to contend with! You haven't improved your financial position at all, and you have decidedly less to offer to appeal to new members.
Q. What are the consequences for the club if the forthcoming vote does not produce the required 2/3 majority, or if the current members don't agree in sufficient numbers to the call for 75% signing up for 2 years?
A. The operative word in that question is 'consequences.' Neither the Board nor the Finance Committee can envision a happy ending if this deal doesn't go through. We will run out of cash in the very near future, and, in all likelihood, be forced into bankruptcy. Whether we would ever be in a position to come out of bankruptcy is a matter for conjecture, and I simply don't know. We could perhaps stave it off for a few additional months by making further cuts in budgeted items, but, basically, we are in the process of dying the death of a thousand paper cuts. With each passing week, we progress a little further in that direction. Should this vote fail, we will be several weeks further along with absolutely no viable fallback plan.
Q. I've heard that there were 2 offers on the table to buy the club. Why are we being asked to vote on just one?
A. Yes, there were. In addition to Joe Mayo's proposal, we also received a viable offer from one of our long time members, Scott Sanders. And let me take a moment here to state that the entire club owes Scott a great debt of gratitude for coming to the fore when we needed help. I can't thank him enough.
So why are you seeing and voting on only one? The Board debated this at great length at our special meeting on Tuesday, August 28. We determined that we had 2 primary obligations to the membership in the event we voted to present to you for approval a plan to sell the club: to put before you what we considered the best plan for the future well being of the club, and to put before you the plan with the greatest likelihood of meeting the 2/3 majority vote threshold.
As noted in the above answer, time is not our friend. A vote including 2 separate proposals would be much less likely to reach 2/3, as the 2 options would steal votes from each other as is seen in the political arena (think Ross Perot in 1992). While Scott's proposal was a good one, we felt Joe's to be the better choice on both counts. Scott's proposal would specifically allow the eventual development of the tennis court and tent area, while Joe has no plans for development of that area (or any other) except for possible club related things. We felt the land development question would make Scott's proposal much more vulnerable to falling short of 2/3, and we felt Joe's offer was better on the merits.
Article IV, Section 4 of the By-laws grants wide powers to the Board, including the sale of property. Other than in the case of selling all of the property and assets (as in the present case), the Board can take this action on its own - as was done most recently with the sale of the condo land last year. Naturally, the Board should be expected to seek multiple offers where appropriate, and we did. It is up to the Board, though, to choose which offer to accept, and then submit that offer to the membership for approval. That is precisely what has been done in this instance, and that is why you're only being asked to consider for approval the one offer.
Q. What happens if I sign the 2 year commitment agreement, and then a life changing event prevents me from fulfilling it?
A. We currently have approximately 350 total memberships, which includes well over 600 individuals. In a population of that size, it is a given that such things will happen - a job transfer to the east coast, an unfortunate medical circumstance, that type of thing. No such reasonable cause for not fulfilling the entire 2 year commitment is going to result in a claim being made against you. There need be no cause for concern in that regard.
Q. Can you describe, in sequence, what the procedure will be from this point forward?
A. Sure. Over the next several days, we will continue to provide you with information. That process will culminate with the Town Hall meeting on Thursday, September 13, where you will have an opportunity to ask any questions of the Board, club management, and the buyer, Joe Mayo.
Shortly after that meeting, you will receive 2 documents in the mail from the Anderson Group, the CPA firm we have engaged to conduct the voting. One will be the actual 2 year commitment form, and the other will be the ballot asking for your approval. There will also be a Memorandum of Understanding included, which will outline the conditions of sale to be included in the actual contact. Your yes vote will authorize the Board and our attorney (Steve Adkins of Evashevski & Elliott) to negotiate and sign the final contract.
Q. Can you elaborate on the actual vote itself?
A. I will, but we have sought our attorney's opinion on whether our interpretation of the by-laws is absolutely correct. We want to be 100% sure this is done properly, so that question will be answered in a few days.
Q. I'm still not sure I completely understand how our nonprofit can sell everything. I thought it all had to go the school district. Can you explain that?
A. Think of it this way: There are 2 different things called the Corvallis Country Club. One is the nonprofit corporation that exists on paper and is registered with the Secretary of State. It is a legal entity that owns assets. If it goes out of business, the law requires that any remaining assets be transferred to another nonprofit, presumably the school district.
Then there is the vast piece of property and improvements on Whiteside Drive which also goes by the name of the Corvallis Country Club. It is an asset of the corporation, but it could be called anything else. It could, for example, be called the Augusta National Golf Club (don't we wish), or South Hills, or Whispering Pines, or Fred, for that matter. It's just an asset of the corporation, like our mowers or the big TV in the grille room.
Just as the corporation can sell the TV rather than turn it over to the school district, so too can we sell the property and improvements. The corporation does not cease to exist as a result of the sale of its currently owned assets, so there is no problem triggered by the sale.
The by-laws state that, for a vote by mail to be valid, at least 20% of all eligible members must cast a vote. That means that, if there were 300 eligible voters (example figure only, not accurate), only 60 votes are required for the results to be binding on the entire membership. If only 60 voted, a mere 21 no votes would cause the proposal to fail. I mention this to illustrate and emphasize how important each vote is for our club's future, how important your personal vote is.
Hope you have found this information helpful and thank you again for your support of this most important undertaking.