Gregory to leave as ski area top dog

Surprise announcement at Town Council

Rusty Gregory, the chief executive officer of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, will step aside from his duties, he said Wednesday night.

Speaking at a Town Council meeting on June 5, Gregory said he would make a formal announcement later this month.

“We’ve made a lot of … changes,”  Gregory said. “In two to three weeks I’ll be announcing who’s going to run Mammoth Mountain Ski Area next. Mammoth Mountain will not be run by me.”

Gregory did not elaborate on his decision before the council, and afterward declined further comment on his announcement.

However, Gregory hinted that he thought he was simply the wrong man for the times.

“We’re making a lot of changes organizationally that are difficult to make,” he said, “because for us to do things in the future, we can’t do things the same way harder and faster and expect a different result.” 

Speaking within the context of the ski area’s support of the increasingly controversial tourist-based business improvement district (TBID), Gregory said it was time for Mammoth Mountain to go in a different direction.

“It’s not a natural act to put up more money at a time when people are very concerned about how expensive things are,” he said. “We believe that this (the TBID) is the only growth strategy that we see on the horizon.”

But, he said, the landscape is rapidly changing beneath his feet.

“I want to remind the council that I made a promise to the town in November 2012 that I was going to get out of the way—that we were in a very important time in terms of the future and the present of the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and that the things that would be required in the future were different than the things we have comfortably done in the past, starting with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

“So, true to that, we’ve made a lot of changes, some of which are public, some of which are not.

“We believe in the foreseeable future that we need special help to work with the TBID to coordinate with them, if it passes, so we can take our marketing effort and fold it into their [the town’s] marketing effort so that we’re leveraging the benefits.

“It’s an important time. Our very natural tendency is to snap back to what we’ve been doing. What we’re comfortable with, and what’s worked in the past, is probably not the right answer for the future.”

Gregory left the meeting immediately after his comments, leaving former marketing director Howard Pickett and executive Ron Cohen in the room.

Asked by a reporter outside the council chambers for additional elaboration, Gregory said, “I have no comment other than to say, ‘Stay tuned.’”