The Greenbrier

Since: Feb 13

Oakvale, WV

#1 Feb 19, 2013
Today I was directed to numerous discussions by a current GB employee and I hope things can change.

My name is Stuart Williams. I first came to the hotel as a guest in 94 and fell in love with it. I was an annual visitor through 01 when I joined the GBRSC and from 99 through 06 brought meetings to the hotel but then sold my meetings company. In 11 I accepted an invite to meet Jim Justice and believing in his vision joined the GB team in June but was let go in April of 2012. I have no where near the same length of relationship with the hotel as many but its long enough to be qualified to have an opinion.

Jim Justice stepped in and saved an icon plus +/- 1200 out of +/- 1500 jobs. To the best of my calculations he has invested over $255m which however big a bank account someone has is huge bet to make. He not only saved jobs but just as importantly he ensured the velocity of capital remained high in the local economy. I grew up in a mining town in Wales and saw what happened to entire communities when the velocity of capital ground to a halt when a mine closed. He has done much of the above due to a belief in the local residents and through blind faith given he continued to fund the hotels losses which takes a lot of guts when things are not going right. I do not know all his future plans but the clinic alone would take him over $300m. Thats a huge bet on people as he is in a people business.

Have there been mistakes? Of course but is it not his and many of his senior managers first rodeo in the hospitality business? Have good people been let go? Indeed but I think in time this too will end up in the mistakes column. Is it hard work? Of course it is but thats why its called work. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it must be better than the alternative as everyone would quit.

Take a look outside of WSS, and WV into the corporate world. How many companies give Turkey's at Thanksgiving and Christmas - quite a few. How many give 40% staff discounts - a fair number. How many give great benefits - getting less every week. How many give free rock concerts and golf tournaments - not many. How many do all of the aforementioned? Probably only multi billion dollar companies like Google.

I do not agree with everything that happens but good lord is the above not enough? Are Jim and his family not doing enough to try to bring the hotel back?

Now for some global business truisms that not even "Idiot" can argue against without living up to his/her screen name. The President (or active leader) of any company will receive some of the credit when things go well and all of the blame when they do not. The company they run is a total reflection of how they run it and the buck stops squarely in his/her office if budgets or goals are not achieved. If the leader does not wish to take this responsibility they should not be in office because it comes with the territory, period end of the story. As Shakespeare so famously said, "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown".

Why I am bothering to write this with no anonymity? I care about the hotel and many of the people I have known for over 20 years who work there. When the time comes I would like to see my children's children enjoy the place and it is an icon that should not be lost.

There are many things that happen there that I disagree with but as I said, its not perfect. One thing I do agree with is that as a team you were the best in the business so don't let anyone, especially yourselves through in fighting etc, stop you from getting back to the top. If you want to effect change, get together and do so as a team. If you want to win again, stop pointing fingers at each other otherwise you will never make it.

There are a lot of people pulling for you so stop wasting your energy on blaming each other, bond together and take back your rightful title as the best in the business, not for Jim or your President but for yourselves as you have done it before so damn well go do it again.

Best, Stuart

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