State News

July 10, 2013

Callaway Gardens cuts costs

PINE MOUNTAIN — After selling more than half of its 13,000 acres last year, Callaway Gardens is now taking new actions to cut costs.

The resort in Pine Mountain is eliminating some jobs and will close the gardens for more than a week in early January, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports (http://bit.ly/151m7Hm). CEO Edward Callaway said Tuesday the first six months of the year had been worse than expected.

“We spent $2.5 million on capital improvements this year. We thought we would grow our business by that much in the year. We’re not going to,” Callaway said. The gardens were seeing good growth in daily and weekend visits but that the group business wasn’t growing as needed, he said.

Much of the money was used to improve the 274-room Mountain Creek Inn next to Callaway Gardens. Both individual and group travelers were turned off by the hotel and its furnishings, which had gotten “old and tired,” Callaway said.

“I’m finding out it takes a while to win a group back,” Callaway said. “Groups book three months out, six months out, 12 months out. So we’re slowly growing our group business back.”

But he estimates that it will take at least two years to pay off the capital expenditures. To compensate for that, he decided to lay off more than a dozen employees, get rid of 15 other positions and reduce the hours for some jobs. Employees are also having to pay a greater share of their health insurance.

Callaway is the grandson of the resort’s founders, Cason J. and Virginia Hand Callaway, and son of Howard “Bo” Callaway, a longtime gardens executive and foundation board member.

“I’m adjusting our business and fine-tuning it, and I hate it because we’ve got great people and great employees,” Callaway said. “But we’re having to scrimp and skinny down to get through this year so that our revenues exceed our expenditures. We’re never going to do anything else but that. That’s just a given from now on.”

He’s also planning to close Callaway Gardens Jan. 1-11, a move he expects will be permanent.

“Last year during that time we had almost no business. It’s just a very smart thing to do is close during a period of time when you have very slow business after Fantasy,” he said, adding that the resort can use that time for repairs and significant annual maintenance.

The gardens have struggled to come back from the $44 million in debt it had entering 2012. Two land sales that totaled about 7,000 acres helped stem the financial losses. Those sales, along with negotiations with lenders, have helped reduce the debt to about $8 million last year. Callaway has said that’s manageable.

———

Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, http://ledger-enquirer.com

1
Text Only
State News
  • One charged in death of Dalton woman, another sought

    A Dalton woman found dead in Calhoun earlier this month is believed to have died of a drug overdose after two Calhoun residents abandoned her in a car behind the VFW on East Line Street, Lt. Tony Pyle with the Calhoun Police Department said Wednesday afternoon.

    June 18, 2014

  • Guard shot at FedEx center to undergo 14th surgery

    A security guard critically wounded when a gunman went on a rampage at a FedEx facility is scheduled to undergo his 14th operation Tuesday.

    May 27, 2014

  • Arson ruled out as cause of chemical plant fire

    Police say investigators have been able to rule out arson or foul play as the cause of a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles.

    May 27, 2014

  • Teen tied to shopping cart drowns in lake

    Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say a teen has died after being tied to a shopping cart and pushed into Lake Allatoona.

    May 25, 2014

  • Underground tattoo artists frustrate officials

    The work of tattoo artists whose living rooms double as body art studios might come cheap, but experts say the unsterile -- and illegal -- work environments could leave clients in pain long after the initial sting of the needle subsides.

    May 25, 2014

  • No runoff lets Republicans focus on Rep. Barrow

    While Georgia Republicans have to wait until July to settle runoff races for the U.S. Senate and three open House seats, one of the biggest GOP victories in the primary elections last week went to Augusta businessman Rick W. Allen.

    May 25, 2014

  • Audit probes juvenile justice turnover rate

    A state audit cites low pay, long hours and management concerns as reasons for a relatively high turnover rate at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

    May 25, 2014

  • Atlanta schools ex-tech director to be sentenced

    After his relationship with the superintendent of Atlanta’s school system soured, a former technology director for the district set up a kickback scheme to pad his pockets before he left his job, according to court documents.

    May 24, 2014

  • Georgia veteran, 92, honored at surprise ceremony

    Family and friends surprised a 92-year-old World War II veteran from Georgia on Memorial Day by honoring him and presenting him with the World War II Victory Medal.

    May 24, 2014

  • Police: Massive chemical plant fire extinguished

    Authorities say a massive fire at a chemical plant outside Atlanta that spewed black smoke and flames visible for miles has been extinguished.

    May 24, 2014