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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Pines yacht club having poor winter

(March 5, 2015) The new yacht club in Ocean Pines received mostly positive reviews after opening on Memorial Day last year, but things are not going as smoothly during the shoulder season, with at least one member of the board of directors advocating closing the facility.
The yacht club posted a $45,000 net operating loss in January, continuing a four-month downward trend.
“We just had the worst January in the last eight years,” Vice President Marty Clarke said. “December was the second worst month in the last eight years. We’ve lost $142,000 and change in the last four months.
“Any human being with a brain who understands their fiduciary duty and their stewardship of other people’s money would lock the door,” Clarke continued.
The problem, Clarke said, is not the struggle with ballooning payroll figures, more than $29,000 over budget in January and off the mark by more than $100,000 for the year, or high utility costs, $6,000 over budget for the month.
“It’s easy,” he said. “There are no customers. How’s that five million dollar investment working for you?
“Every other restaurant gets it,” Clarke continued. “I finished dinner at the Shark on Wednesday night with about three other people at about 7:30. When we got up and went out the door they locked the door behind us, and the lights went out. Do you know why? No customers.”
Clarke put the blame solely on the board of directors, where he said the group could “delegate authority all we want, but the responsibility is ours.”
The answer, he suggested, is simple.
“Close it. In a perfect world, Marty is king, Sept. 31 the plumbers are pouring antifreeze in the pipes,” Clarke said. “The old yacht club, in ’86, when they shut it for the winter time, the only power we were paying for was for the emergency fire suppression system. The building was closed.”
In the budget book for the working draft of the fiscal year 2016 budget, General Manager Bob Thompson listed “failure to understand impact of payroll costs to bottom line” as a major weakness at the club.
“What are we doing for the yacht club next year? We’re increasing payroll by 16 people,” Clarke said. “Hello?”
Clarke does not believe the board will make any moves to change the direction of the facility.
“I think they’ll all shrug their shoulders and hope it goes away,” he said. “It’s managed as another community center. It’s not an amenity when it’s losing $142,000 in four months. That’s not an amenity. That’s a loser.”
Thompson, for his part, asked “how does an owner or a board member talk ill about their own organization?”
“That’s interesting to me,” he said.
The general manager said he was looking at all strategies in operating the club, including closing the facility during the winter.
“Despite what some are saying right now, it really is too new to know what the most effective strategy with the new club will be,” he said. “We’ve had a good winter from a standpoint that we’re getting more and more people to use it.”
Thompson said the facility has introduced new programs, including Sunday evening trivia, and is operating on abbreviated hours, Thursday through Sunday, in an attempt to keep payroll costs down.
“We’ve had well over 100 people attending during those events, and that’s food and beverage service,” he said. “The holiday specials, Valentine’s Day, those types of events have all been very, very successful, so we’re going to continue to build on those successes.”
Utility costs and payroll are high, Thompson admitted, and the community is looking for ways to bring the numbers back down to earth.
“They’re the two that we need to do a better job at,” he said. “It’s a brand new facility, much larger in scope and operation than our previous one. Trying to operate it more efficiently is really tough when we’re eight months into operations.”