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More Than Chairs: Interview with Dick Naumann

For this installment of the “More Than Chairs” series, we interviewed Dick Naumann. Dick Naumann is currently the General Manager and COO of The Club at Nevillewood. Read on to find out more about Dick Naumann.

 

Please share a brief overview of you and your background.

 

I was born and raised in Suffern, NY, 25 miles NW of NY City. I received my BS degree in business management from SUNY Plattsburgh where I met my wife Jennifer. We were married shortly after graduating and will celebrate our 38th anniversary in April. We have three great children who we could not be more proud of as people and professionals.

 

How did you find yourself in the club industry? Please share more about your education and how you earned your first GM role?

 

I have had a job since I was ten when I started working a paper route. After learning the grocery store I was working at in high school was closing, I ran into the owner of the restaurant next door who I knew through a friend who cooked for him. He asked how I was doing and I told him I just lost my job. He offered me a position as a dishwasher on the spot and my hospitality career was born. I worked my way up to cook, then found a cooking position during college that led to the head cook / chef position at the restaurant. My first management position out of college was with a contract foodservice company called SAGA which was eventually purchased by Marriott. My employment with SAGA brought me to Rochester, NY at Nazareth College. I was given clubhouse tickets for the 1989 US Open at Oak Hill which was amazing.

 

Not being raised in a country club environment, I didn’t know that a place like that even existed. The week after the Open, an advertisement appeared in the employment want ads for Catering Manager at Oak Hill. On a whim, I went over and applied and two interviews later I found myself in the club business. Seven years at Oak Hill working up to Clubhouse Manager cumulated with the 1995 Ryder Cup. I moved across town to Locust Hill CC as General Manager for eleven years and then transitioned to Aronimink GC in Philadelphia for ten years. A 2 ½ year stint at Jonathan’s Landing GC in Jupiter, FL ended abruptly shortly before COVID. I am now happily employed as the GM/COO at The Club at Nevillewood in Pittsburgh.

 

What are some of your most memorable moments over the years?

 

By far, the most memorable moments were my wedding day and the birth of our three children. All four occasions brought me tears of joy. The days my dad, mother-in-law and father-in-law passed away are forever in my memory, different tears on those days. From a professional perspective, Ryder Cup week was amazing! Managing eleven LPGA events at Locust Hill and two AT&T Nationals at Aronimink were also highlights of my career. Being part of the visiting management team at Augusta National for The Masters for ten years has been fantastic. Pouring wine for the Champions Dinner at The Masters was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

What keeps you motivated?

 

My dad instilled a strong work ethic in me; I love my job and the hospitality industry. In short, making people happy motivates me, at work and at home.

 

What are you most proud of?

 

As I mentioned earlier, my three children, although, my wife deserves most of the credit there. Professionally, earning my CCM designation, Honor Society, and CCE designations are important to me. Being elected President of the New York State and Philadelphia Chapters of CMAA and named Club Manager of the Year for both chapters certainly brought me pride. Helping and mentoring eight Assistant Managers to become GMs is definitely on my list.

 

Any regrets?

 

Looking back, I always did what I thought was right and necessary at the time. That turned into long hours at work and me missing too much time with my family. I wish I would have felt more secure in my positions, delegated more, and spent more time at home.

 

Your clubs have gone through numerous renovations. What advice would you give to committees and other GMs planning on a renovation?

 

  1. Do not rush the process!
  2. Make sure your members are onboard with the project.
  3. Give the architect the time they need to create complete drawings for the bidding process. Incomplete drawings will lead to change orders and change orders will kill your budget.
  4. Make sure your budgets are complete and accurate.
  5. Do not forget soft costs, the architects, engineers, attorneys, bank, and permit fees all need to be paid.
  6. Don’t forget to include a budget for adequate furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
  7. Do not allow the construction manager to manage the budget, he/she doesn’t care about FF&E! As GM, you should manage the budget, keep the scorecard. 
  8. Work with quality vendors.

Do you have any renovation horror stories you can share?

 

I alluded to them in the previous question. I had FF&E mysteriously disappear from the budget. That ballroom would not have been very useful without tables and chairs for people to sit in! An unsigned contract that was mutually agreed to lead to conflict. I created a Pub concept at one club. We worked with a local interior designer who brought in chairs and barstools that looked great, BUT, began to fall apart at the joints during the first year. Looks are important, but quality counts in the long term.

 

Do you enjoy dining, or is food more means to an end? What are some of your favorite dishes and foods?

 

I love to dine, especially with my family. Eating is a means to an end, dining is an experience. I love all the foods I shouldn’t eat to stay healthy. A great steak, juicy burger, tall chocolate cake are all special occasion things for me. My “go-to” dinner these days is a big salad with pan-seared salmon or chicken.

 

Away from work, how do you relax and take care of yourself? Any favorite getaway destinations?

 

I love to golf and wish I were better at it. I spend most my time away from work with family. Jen and I enjoy antiquing and traveling when we can. We have been on a few cruises, visited several Caribbean islands, but our favorite place on earth is Paris. I love to cook. 

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