Ryan Cozzetto, Chief Executive Officer of Wyndemere Country Club in Naples. Fla., penned a letter to members in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. “We are incredibly fortunate to have every staff member at Wyndemere,” he writes. “Watching them perform last week is something that I will never forget. Words cannot express how proud of them I am and appreciative of their dedication to our wonderful community!”
Ryan Cozzetto, Chief Executive Officer of Wyndemere Country Club in Naples. Fla. penned a letter to members in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Below is the letter. Click HERE to view images.
Hurricane Ian Aftermath
A Team is defined as “a group of people who perform interdependent tasks to work toward accomplishing a common mission or specific objective.”
In our case at Wyndemere, the team works cohesively within all departments to achieve the Mission and Vision of Wyndemere Country Club. We sum it up as striving to provide exceptional Member services and amenities on a consistent basis.
Commitment is defined as “feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly dedicated.”
The staff displayed their unity as a team and commitment to the Membership at Wyndemere while dealing with Hurricane Ian both before, during and after impact. The following is a summary of activities associated with Hurricane Ian that I wanted to share with the Membership. We are incredibly fortunate to have every staff member at Wyndemere. Watching them perform last week is something that I will never forget. Words cannot express how proud of them I am and appreciative of their dedication to our wonderful community!
Wednesday morning, September 28th, is a day that I will never forget. Hurricane Ian was headed towards Naples, Florida, and Wyndemere Country Club. I woke up at 5:45am to my wife telling me that if I wanted to get to the Club today, we had less than 30 minutes to get our things and load up the girls. Most of you know that I have two daughters, Collins is 4 and half while Kennedy just turned 1 and is finally walking. Then there is my wife that has been dedicated to my career for the last 20 years. I remember telling Ron Drapeau, our Club President, that we would have medical personnel onsite. Megan recently completed her Doctorate as a Nurse Practitioner and would be available to assist if needed. Little did I know that Megan would be assigned to bartending on Wednesday in the Tiebreaker with a baby on her hip while Collins was bussing tables… More on that later…
On our drive to the Club, the winds were already howling and picking up speed by the minute. It was eerie- you could feel that something was coming, and it was not going to be good. How bad would it be at Wyndemere? No one had any idea. All we could do was trust our planning and preparations and hope for the best. Earlier in the week, the team at Wyndemere spent hours storing all the external assets of the Club and positioning the Hurricane Preparedness supplies. We knew that if things turned bad for the Club, the Tiebreaker would be our dedicated space to take care of the Members and provide all services necessary until everything was restored. One of the best decisions we made as part of Project 2020, was ensuring that the Tiebreaker building was constructed with a generator that could maintain power as part of our emergency preparedness initiatives. I credit Club Member Charlie Staadecker for never letting me forget the impacts of Hurricane Irma and the need for shelter like conditions as part of WCC Project 2020 to take care of the Members. This was the reason we insisted on having a generator as part of the Tiebreaker that could give us full power and access to the resources we needed during a severe storm.
My family and I arrived at the Club around 6:45am, dropped our stuff and went to work. The Hurricane Membership Ground team was led by Jim Lambe, Ed Mayotte, and Scoot Dimon. They were already working and ensured constant communications with me, assisted with brewing coffee for the Members, and drove around the community helping in any way they could. Furthermore, they helped our team put the Club back together on Thursday. I can’t thank these gentlemen enough for what they did during the storm. Their efforts were critical in our ability to serve the Membership. Anything I needed; they were willing to help get it done.
Then, there is Mark Neneman, our Communications and IT Director. He and his fiancé (Lyndsey) lost power early Wednesday morning and made the decision to join me and the family at Wyndemere. They were both critical in our ability to serve the Membership the day of the storm and throughout the weekend. In addition, Mark was constantly taking my email messages, posting videos of the community to social media, and leaving Club property to provide Member communications and updates. I can’t say enough about Mark and what he does for us at Wyndemere!
Wednesday, September 28th, approximately 12pm
It was lunch time and we had Members who needed food and drinks while waiting out the storm in the Tiebreaker dining room. My wife came back and ordered 5 BLT’s. I looked at her and reminded her that we are not a restaurant right now and I am not a Chef. She looked at me and without words I knew that I would be making those BLT’s and anything else that was ordered.
I am not sure how many sandwiches we made but it was seemed like a lot. Mark was with me from the beginning to the end and even put together a batch of Hot Dogs to provide some alternative food choices.
After lunch service, I remember looking at Mark and Lyndsey asking them what we should do for dinner as more Members will be joining us and will need food. But there was another priority that had to be addressed before we got into dinner service.
We noticed that the hood system in the kitchen and the AC in the Tiebreaker Dining Room were no longer operating. The temperature was rising and the smoke from the kitchen equipment was stagnant. We must have been struck by lightning…(we were multiple times) Mark immediately began checking all of the breakers on each of the electrical panels. After around a half hour, we found the issue, however this was a main breaker and neither Mark nor I have any electrical background. However, if you know Mark, he is one of the most intelligent individuals I have ever met with it comes to IT and communications. After confirming via text with some of our Club contacts, we were confident that we knew what we needed to do. There was just one thing, one of us needed to turn the breaker switch back to the correct position. However, this was on the main panel (an 800amp switch), and we were both terrified that we were going to be electrocuted if our assumptions were not correct. Long story short, we made the right decision and were able to restore AC to the main dining room and we got the hoods back in the kitchen. Now, it was time to plan a menu for dinner service for those Members riding the storm out in the Tiebreaker…
Wednesday, September 28th, approximately 4pm
We all agreed that we needed to get some warm food out before moving into the dinner meal service. Sandwiches and snacks were getting a little boring and the Members deserved better. Looking around at what we had, Mark and Lyndsey jumped into action and began making pizzas and sliders as quickly as possible. Thankfully, Mark is close with Chef and knew how to use the dough press for the pizza dough. We were able to make a quick call to Chef Neil earlier in the morning for an explanation of how our state-of-the-art Rational Oven worked. We also wanted to offer some sort of dessert so we started baking cookies while determining what we could pull off as far as actual dinner food items. My oldest daughter was assigned to bussing tables and Megan was our lead bartender. Mark and Lyndsey’s pizzas were dynamite, and the sliders were a hit! Apparently, someone was violating our non-cash tipping policy in the dining room as later I found out my daughter managed to make $55 bussing tables… We will let this one slide for now given the circumstances…
As the dinner meal service time came upon on, we determined that our Menu would feature cheeseburgers and potato chips. What we did not expect was demand for (50) burgers over the course of two hours. The bar was packed, and we needed to provide warm meals for all in attendance. We managed to pull it off and successfully get through Wednesday. We headed home around 8:30pm and left the Tiebreaker open for Members that needed a place to stay while the power was out in the community. When we got home our power was out to be expected. However, our house and community were fine. After a quick shower with some of the remaining hot water we had, I pulled a chair out of my garage and sat in my driveway recapping what had just happened and more importantly, what we needed to do tomorrow. The community was out of power, and we needed to be prepared to respond accordingly. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets would be provided to the Membership. I was fortunate to have cell service in my driveway and was able to send a single message to the team that I will never forget.
“For those that are able, we will need all hands-on deck tomorrow at the Club. Take care of your family first and then come to the Club when you can.”
That night, I fell asleep and crossed my fingers that we would have team Members arrive to take care of the Members at the Club.
Thursday, September 29th, approximately 7:45am
“The incredible Wyndemere Team’s Response”
Will be remembered as my most humbling and proud days at Wyndemere in the 5 years I have been at the Club. Upon returning the Club the next morning, I was speechless. What I saw when I came through the Club entrance and upon entering the Tiebreaker was truly amazing. A clear example of the team’s commitment to Member services that will never be matched.
It was as they were telling me, “We got this Ryan, let us work and stay out of the way.”” And I listened…
The Golf Course Maintenance and Golf Operation teams lead by Aaron Ohloff and Kyle Gailloreto, had been at work for at least a couple hours. They were focused on cleaning up the front entrance of the Club to ensure the Tiebreaker was accessible for the Members. From there they immediately moved to the surrounding Club areas and golf course cleanup needs. This team came through quickly and big time for the Club! More than 35 team Members worked as many hours as they could cleaning up the Club grounds and getting golf facilities back to normal operations.
I proceeded to enter the Tiebreaker and could feel the energy. The culinary team led by Chef Neil, arrived early and already had a full breakfast buffet available before 8am. Coffee was brewed by the Members of the Hurricane Membership grounds team and the front of house service staff was ready to go with smiles on their faces. In addition, Housekeeping, Racquet Sports, and the Administration team Members were at the Club and ready for assignment. Windows were cleaned, furniture put back in place, supplies stocked, and Member services provide. Gas, snacks, bottled water, ice, you name it, the team was ready and willing to assist.
The Food and Beverage team served 500 meals per day Thursday – Sunday. The goal was to do everything we could while power was waiting to be restored to the community.
Ramon, Mario, Kevin, Irena, Caroline, Niko, Rene, Jason, Robbie, and Eduardo in the front of the house, were unbelievable!
Chef Neil, Dave, Michael, Renoy, and the entire culinary team were exceptional! All smiles and focused on the Membership with food and beverage services. Never asked what to do, just simply executed what needed to be done.
The driving range was opened on Saturday for Member use, followed by the White Golf Course on Sunday. On Wednesday morning, the Green Course opened for the Members providing 18-holes of golf available for play. Racquet Sports resumed on Friday alongside the gym in the Fitness Center that opened on Thursday for Member use and shower purposes. Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Ian’s impact to Wyndemere, we had Members swimming in the resort pool. Lastly, we never closed the Tiebreaker for Member food, beverage, charging and shelter services.
I have never been so proud of a group of individuals in my entire career. As a leader, you are only as good as the team of individuals that you surround yourself with. You can have the perfect gameplan prepared, but without people committed to the vision and mission of the Club, you will not be successful. The staff response when called upon to return to the Club and assist Members post Hurricane Ian, is a great example of their dedication and commitment to Wyndemere. When asked, they responded at a level that we could have only wished for. It was all hands-on deck and focus was prioritized on serving the Members and putting the Club back together. We are truly fortunate and blessed to have the staff at Wyndemere. They answered the call and put the Clubs needs in front of their own. Thank you to the team at Wyndemere. You are why our Club is so successful and special and I am honored to work alongside you! The staff are the real heroes of Wyndemere!
Many of you have sent emails expressing your support and gratefulness for the team and their efforts throughout Hurricane Ian. Furthermore, you have asked that we set up a fund to allow Members to express their appreciation via voluntary contributions for all their hard work and dedication. Earlier, a message was sent out by our Club President, Ron Drapeau announcing the establishment of the Voluntary Hurricane Ian Employee Fund [the Members of Wyndemere went on to raise over $85,000 for the staff affected by Hurricane Ian within two weeks of the storm making landfall].
Thank you for support and we look forward to seeing you soon at the Club!
Chief Executive Officer