It has become increasingly rare to see a person in the same place for decades, but there are still a handful of people in the industry who have laid down roots that have become rather impressive. For those of you just starting your journey, can you imagine being at the same property for 50 years? And for those of you who have already reached the 50-year mark, I want to know how you did it.
I was recently in French Lick, Ind. for a feature story on the French Lick Resort—home to a pair of amazing golf courses from Donald Ross and Pete Dye—and historic hotels, a casino and so much more. It’s also the birthplace of NBA legend Larry Bird, but that’s beside the point.
After completing a round of golf on the Dye course, I went into The Mansion for lunch with Dave Harner, the resort’s Director of Golf Operations. As we sat there and talked about the golf courses, renovations, overcoming challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, etc., he mentioned that he started at the resort in 1976.
At first, the number didn’t register. But when you think that Y2K—and all the panic that surrounded what the change of centuries was going to do to our digital world—was more than two decades ago…1976 began to sink in.
In 1976, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won the Academy Award for Best Picture; the aforementioned Bird was at Indiana State University and his future professional league merged with the ABA; gymnast Nadia Comaneci recorded the first perfect 10 for her routine on the uneven bars at the Montreal Olympics; and Jimmy Carter defeated incumbent Gerald Ford for the presidency. In other words, it was a long time ago.
During my time in the public relations world, one of the properties I worked with was Sun Valley Resort in Idaho. My contact at the resort was Jack Sibbach, the Marketing and Public Relations Director.
Sibbach began working at the resort in 1978. He started working as a doorman at the Ram Restaurant and, during his tenure, worked as the resort’s night manager, ran the recreation center, did food and beverage jobs (including managing several restaurants), did maintenance, and worked in the ski school.
“We’re all very lucky to have the Holdings as owners,” Sibbach said in a 2016 interview with the Idaho Mountain Express as he was preparing to transition out of his role. “If we’re willing to work, they would put us to work.”
While 1976 and 1978 are impressive start dates for Harner and Sibbach, I recently heard of one man who has them both beat. Greg Bingeman has worked at Susquehanna Valley Country Club in Hummels Wharf, Pa. since 1965!
Bingeman began as a high-school student “doing the grunt work,” he told the Sunbury Daily Item, and then attended Penn State University’s turfgrass management program.
Bingeman is not yet retiring—he told the Daily Item he plans on working every morning Monday through Friday—but is finally slowing down.
“We have a person who’s going to take my position, but I’m still gonna be around,” Bingeman said. “I’ve worked seven days a week for 50 years, it’s time to give it up.”
You’ve earned it, Mr. Bingeman!
For those of you just starting your journey, can you imagine being at the same property for 50 years? And for those of you who have already reached the 50-year mark, I want to know how you did it. Please shoot me an e-mail and share your thoughts.