Tales from the Other Side

Skip joined the Chambers team in 2013 after nearly 30 years managing some of the country’s most prestigious country clubs and recently serving  as president of the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA). We asked Skip what brought him from club management to club planning. We know we couldn’t be happier to have him!


CR: What made you choose the club industry?

SA:  It really chose me. I’d taken a year off from college in 1980 and took a job bartending at a Van Schaick Island Country Club in New York.  A year or so later, the president of the club asked if I was interested in managing the club, thinking it would be a good opportunity for me. And that was…that.

CR: What appeals most to you about the club world?

SA:  The opportunity to be part of something special.  Not to sound too melodramatic, but the chance to touch people’s…souls, making them feel good during every phase of their lives.  Every team I led had a simple mantra: “We’re not in the “club business,” we’re in the business of making members feel good — and the club is our tool.”

CR: As a manager and in your role as president of CMAA, you’ve done and seen clubs do many things right over the years. What one thing could they do better?

SA: They could better understand that they’re not in competition for their members’ money, they’re in competition for their time.

CR:  What or who have been the greatest influences on your leadership style?

SA: There are two people — my father, Dick Avery, and Peter Sallentini, CGSA, CCM.  My dad taught my brothers and me two things: tell people what you’re going to do — and do it, and treat people better than they would treat you.  I worked for Peter in the 80s.  He taught me how to lead and inspire people, along with the importance of compassion and empathy.

CR: What’s on your desk right now that inspires you?

SA: I was honored with the Mel Schmidt Leadership Award in 2009 (given by the Wisconsin Badger Chapter of CMAA). The award represented who Mel was and how he chose to lead his life. Being nominated for and winning that award makes me want to be a better man every day.

Check his new blog series, “Perspectives from the Other Side.”

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