Steve Pedersen is credited with helping transform the property into “a real asset to the entire community” over his seven-year tenure, with a list of accomplishments including a redesigned 18-hole golf course, new pool complex, updated clubhouse, and revived membership.
When Midland (Mich.) Country Club General Manager Steve Pedersen came to Midland from the North Shore of Chicago, he saw a country club with decreasing membership and a clubhouse built in the early 1930s, the Midland Daily News reported.
Seven years later, the club has seen a tremendous transformation beginning with the modern clubhouse along with a new focus. And it’s time for the Minnesota native to retire and head back to his roots, the Daily News reported.
“It’s been very gratifying,” said Pedersen of his tenure. “It’s been great. I couldn’t have asked for anything more to end a career on. To come here and think that I was just going to take over a club and then having it morph into what it morphed into, is amazing.”
Those Minnesota roots make the transition back an easy one, the Daily News reported.
“I’ve got a son, Wes, who is graduating from Dow High. He’s going to go to the University of Minnesota architectural school and I’ve got six grandchildren back in Minneapolis,” said Pedersen. “My wife still has family back there and I do. It’s the logical place to go.”
But, at this point, there isn’t a firm date to retire, the Daily News reported.
“I’m here as long as they need me. I want to make sure that the person coming in will be a good fit for the club,” he said.
When Pedersen arrived in 2007, a new clubhouse wasn’t one of his priorities, the Daily News reported.
“When I first came here, we were in the old clubhouse and there was no talk at all of doing anything,” said Pedersen. “I was here about six months and finally one of the gentleman from Dow Chemical called me one day and said, ‘Let’s have dinner,’ and we did. That is how everything started. We were under construction for almost four years.”
Along with the clubhouse came a refocus on the club’s mission, the Daily News reported.
“When we started the (building) project, we redid all of our mission statements and visions,” he said. “One of the tenets and visions of our mission statement was to be community based, which I don’t think the old club was as they should have been. I think the community is looking at it now as a real asset to the entire community rather than as a country club for the elite.”
As Pedersen prepares to retire, he leaves behind a long list of accomplishments including a redesigned 18-hole golf course and a new pool complete with hot tubs, a cascading waterfall and a zero-entry play pool with water cannons and a slide, the Daily News reported.
“It is more of a resort feel than a private club feel,” said Pedersen. “We emphasize the family much more than private clubs tend to do. We love having kids around. They are the focus of much of our programming and planning. That has been unusual in the private club industry. Since the downturn in 2009 clubs have had a tough time. I think one of the reasons is that they don’t give the customer what they want. We kind of feel that we do.”
He also leaves a much more stable club, the Daily News reported.
“Our membership has climbed tremendously,” said Pedersen. “In the last five years we’ve taken in close to 500 new members. Right now, our membership is close to 800. Just before our construction started, we were at just over 500 members.”
The affable, easy-going Pedersen was quick to recognize the accomplishments of the MCC staff, which reaches a high of 190 during the summer, the Daily News reported.
“This is the best staff I’ve ever had the privilege of working with,” he said. “I want someone to come in here who recognizes that and treats everyone well. All of these people really went above and beyond in the move and not only the physical move, but the mental change that we undertook with the new club. Our corporate sponsors and our corporate partners have just been fabulous. Their support of our community is just outstanding. It’s what sets us apart from anyone else in Michigan.”
The road to Midland, actually began as a chef for Pedersen, the Daily News reported.
“I went to the University of Minnesota and did a lot of things out of school. Eventually I ended up back in the culinary school and got my degree and started cooking and eventually became executive chef of the Minneapolis Golf Club. I was there for about five years and one day the president came to me and said, ‘How would you like to manage the club?’” Pedersen said. “I took that over and that is how I got into managing clubs.”
Following the 11-year tenure in Minneapolis, a westward move was made to Missoula, Mt., the Daily News reported.
“Eventually we started working our way back to the Midwest and before I came here, I managed a club on the North Shore of Chicago,” said Pedersen. “Then our son, (Wes) was just about to go into intermediate school. We looked at the school there and didn’t like what we saw and this happened to open up here.”
And the MCC will forever be grateful for that decision, the Daily News reported.