June 25, 2018
Shop Talk

Remillard has doubled revenues at The Haven Country Club

Photo | Brad Kane
Regan Remillard.

Regan Remillard, owner & president of The Haven Country Club, Boylston

Club founded: 1955

Purchased club: 2012

Employees: 11 year-round; 104 seasonal

Age: 54

Birthplace: Worcester

Residence: Boylston (lives on Haven golf course)

Education: Bachelor in economics, Middlebury College in Vermont; juris doctor, Boston University School of Law

Former Boston lawyer Regan Remillard bought Mount Pleasant Country Club to turn his favorite private golf course into a place full of member pride.

Why buy Mount Pleasant in 2012?

I had been a member for eight years prior, and just looking at it, it really needed some TLC. Mount Pleasant Country Club had been having financial difficulties, and, as a result, this great property was losing some of its luster.

What was your vision?

To enhance it, maintain it as a private club, and build a community of individuals who like the club, get along and have a unified feeling about being here.

What were your first steps?

The buildings and the property need a lot of attention: Basic engineering systems – electrical, HVAC, safety – had not been updated since original installation. The parking lot was in shambles, the entryway was depressing, the exterior of the building looked like a defunct nursing home.

That must have been expensive.

My total investment, including the acquisition price, was a little more than $10 million. I invested almost $2 million in the golf course and the maintenance equipment; a lawn mower for the rough costs $75,000. In the buildings and the property, including fixing the tennis courts, the parking lot and the clubhouse, was another $3 million.

Did your revenues increase?

Membership response has been terrific, amazing. Annual revenues were approximately $2 million when I bought the club. They are $4.5 million now. When I bought the club, it had 200 members; now it has 315 members.

Why change the name?

We had a lot of confusion with the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton. On more than one occasion, we had golfers on the golf course, and their spouses were waiting to eat with them over at Pleasant Valley's clubhouse.

We also needed to signify it was a new era. We choose the Haven Country Club because for our members, this is a second home. They call it as their haven.

What is the club's greatest strength?

This remains the most fun golf course to play in Central Massachusetts: varying terrain; intimate, tree-lined fairways; a challenge for golfers of all handicaps; and it's not terribly long.

I spent some money putting in forward tees for women and older golfers. Formerly, this course was one of the longest and hardest courses for women in the state. By introducing new forward tees, it made it far more palatable.

Is membership more gender diverse?

The vast majority of our members are married couples, and each spouse has full golf privileges. We don't run a club where one member can tee off on a Saturday and the other spouse cannot, as a lot of clubs do.

How do you stay competitive?

Our second greatest strength is the staff. This club does warm and friendly hospitality like no other. I have a fantastic senior staff, all very strong leaders, excellent professionals in each of their capacities and respected by their staffs.

We are unfortunate as a seasonal business we have to release 90 percent of our staff for three months, but we end up seeing the same people come back to us year after year. They tell me they love to return to work at the Haven, see their friends, and start a new season again.

When members come here, bring their guests and then bring their guests back, my staff always remembers their names. The guests tell their friends, "That never happens at my club."

What are the membership fees?

The cost of membership is within 5 percent from when I brought the property. For a full family, dues and fees are $8,500. Family individual are about $7,800. An individual is $7,000. Those costs are well below Charter Oak Country Club in Hudson, Hopkinton Country Club and Worcester Country Club, all of whom have significant initiation fees. We don't have those.

What's next for the Haven?

One thing I have not done well enough is to get the club better known in the region. In the towns of Framingham, Southborough, Hudson and Sudbury, we have single-digit membership, even though they are very close.

How many members do you want?

375 would be a very nice number.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.

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