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Paul Ratchford Named General Manager of The Pines Resort
 on Bass Lake Located North of Fresno, California
By Elizabeth Gabriel, Sierra Star, Oakhurst, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 22, 2008 --The Pines' general manager is new to the position and the company (Greenlaw Partners) but he and his family are not new to the Mountain Area.

Paul Ratchford was GM at the Tenaya Lodge from 1993 to 2000 and though he has had jobs in San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and at the prestigious Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., he's kept a home here. His six sons have attended local schools.

"This has always been my home," Ratchford said on the second day of his new job.

How they found him

Scott Murray of Greenlaw said, "We couldn't have found a better guy. He has lots of local knowledge. He knows the community."

Ratchford and Greenlaw got together not in a corporate job search, but in a friendly, Mountain Area way.

When Ratchford left Greenbrier, he came back home to think about what he wanted to do next. He and Scott met in April at the Elegant Auction fundraiser for Oakhurst Community Park. That got the ball rolling.

The official announcement of his appointment was made Monday.

How he sees it

Ratchford said his overall philosophy of resort management has two categories.

The first is is understanding the needs of the customer. But he doesn't define "customer" as only the resort's guests. He said the employees, the owners, the neighbors and the guests are all its customers. They all use the resort in different ways.

"If you meet the needs of all those customers, your business will be a success. You will build trust," Ratchford said.

The second category is to set a vision.

"You need to ask what success looks like. The vision has to be created by the team. You need to involve all the members of the team in indentifying the goals and vision."

Ratchford said Greenlaw's existing vision works for him.

"What they want is who I am," he said.

He knows the history

Because of his history with the area, he knows about the history of the Pines and what it means to not only the guests, but to the locals. Families, local clubs, businesses gather at the Pines.

Locals like to bring their visitors here, he said. He added that the Pines has contributed to the area in those and other ways.

"I'm sure the Pines will continue to be a benefactor to the area," he said.

"I respect the history of the Pines," Ratchford said, "but I think the best years are still ahead."

He used the word "reposition" in explaining that he and Greenlaw want the Pines to become a full-service year-round resort that meets its users' needs and desires.

"We want people to say, 'Wow, look at what's going on at the Pines.'"

For the summer, Murray said, the resort is working for something for people to do every day.

A week of events

He said Monday will be movie night, Wednesday there will be a farmers market, Thursday there will be comedic magicians and on Fridays, not only will there be the resort's popular Jazz on the Lake, but after the Fourth of July, there will be weekly fireworks shows.

"In deference to the eagles' nesting season, we won't start the series until after the Fourth," Murray said.

And another thing sure to interest locals and guests alike is the return of the Bass Lake Queen.

For years, the boat was a fixture on the lake. It's something like a large party boat with a "paddle wheel" at the back.

Tours and events on the boat were popular, but it had to sit out a season for improvements and repairs.

Murray said the boat will be back by mid-June and be in action this summer.

Upstairs to the grill

Other new things Murray discussed included the look of the upstairs bar and grill. It has a new name, the Lakeside Grill.

"We had a contest among the employees to name it," Murray said.

He also pointed to the new logo, an oval with a woman speeding along in a wooden boat, her hair blowing in the wind. He was eager to say the logo was put together by a local person.

The grill will open part-time starting this weekend. Gone is the totem pole and the movie memorabilia (it's being moved). Historic photos and a lighter look pervade.

Other improvements

Murray said the refurbishment of the chateaux is continuing, as is a landscaping project that includes more drought-tolerant plantings.

"We have a lot to do," Ratchford said. "This is a very special community. People enjoy coming here and bringing visitors to show it off. It is an exciting time for the resort, with its new ownership and new leadership."

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To see more of the Sierra Star or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sierrastar.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, Sierra Star, Oakhurst, Calif.

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