Bill Cook no longer General Manager

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by eyesopen, May 25, 2023.

  1. eyesopen

    eyesopen Well-Known Member

    RCSC Board Reaches Mutual Agreement with General Manager
    The Board of Directors for the Recreation Centers of Sun City has reached a mutual separation agreement with General Manager Bill Cook effective Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

    The Board of Directors named RCSC Director of Finance Kevin McCurdy as Interim General Manager.
    (Surprised? Nope! Cook wasn’t qualified to have been hired in the first place. He proved it.)

    Last edited: May 25, 2023
  2. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    I will give Mr. Cook the benefit of the doubt and say that he was probably very good at his job as a bean-counter, however, he came from a for-profit corporation which is a very different animal than a non-profit! The RCSC is not incorporated to make and stash money away or share our amenities or cater to the surrounding communities. The golf courses and Rec centers are here for the benefit of the MEMBERS!!

    On the other side of that, I suspect that he was the preferred choice of Jan Eck because he knew where all the skeletons were hidden.

    It was also my understanding that there were better qualified candidates for the job and at least one of which was willing to move into Sun City!

    You don't hire an electrician to do a plumbers job. You don't hire a bean-counter when you're looking for a CEO!
  3. Linda McIntyre

    Linda McIntyre Well-Known Member

    It takes a person with vision and exceptional leadership and communication skills to be a success in a community like SC in my opinion. There are so many moving parts, but the ultimate goal - the common good of ALL the members that live within the boundaries.

    The GM can't do everything, but he or she has to surround him or herself with the best people, communicate honestly and openly, and be a partner in getting the job done. The boss for the staff, the employee for the Board - is not always easy, but it can be an incredibly rewarding job when focused on the outcome - the good of the community. After all, at the end of the day, what is RCSC about? Why are the employees there? Why are Board and Committee members giving of their time? It's all about Sun City - if the next GM doesn't have a passion for this type of work, my fear is nothing will change.
  4. suncityjack

    suncityjack Active Member

    Yes, that's what I heard too. Personally, I think it will be great to start with a new un-Ecked individual who will do what someone in that position is supposed to be doing: taking direction from the board! Now we might actually have a chance at the members- to- board -to- managing - director structure we were meant to have. I'm very excited.
  5. Tom McClain

    Tom McClain Member

    The interim GM is nothing but a bureaucratic drone. He tried to baffle the board with bureaucratic doublespeak about why he did not have to put on the management financials the PIF revenues so far this year. He did admit that home sales are down quite a bit this fiscal year. That means projected PIF revenues are less than projected.
    Bottom line; no big expensive projects for the future. Renovations are going to be the answer. The sooner the better especially Mountain View and equipment at the rest of the recreation centers.
  6. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I've met and talked with Kevin McCurdy one time and honestly, i came away impressed. He was straightforward and answered/explained every question i asked. I try not be quick to judgement on anyone, i always try and error on the side of being unbiased and giving people the chance to show me what they've got. We should all appreciate him stepping up and taking on the responsibilities as an acting interim GM. Added to the weight of the boards substantial list of open issues is now a search for a GM. No small task.

    The bigger issue Tom pointed out was the huge drop in home sales. I've mentioned it several times and have been honest enough to admit it is too early to call it a trend, but worrisome enough for us all to be mindful if it continues, it will play a major role in the communities direction. We know, the new softball building and lake renovation will come off the top of the roughly 31 million dollars in the PIF account. We know something is going to happen at Mountain View, we don't know what but there's little question it will cost somewhere between 10-20 million dollars dependent on what the recommendations are.

    We also know the 5th water management plan from the state coming in 2025 will foist huge costs on the RCSC and coming from PIF to convert to desert landscaping. We know the PIF budget set aside for the South course alone was 8 million dollars and we were told that amount could be 2-3 times that. The good news was the director of golf told us they were trying a new less water necessary turf that may provide some relief in costs. We'll see.

    What most people don't realize is, while the PIF allows the board some flexibility, they have to have the cash in hand so they can pay as they build and not go in debt. Indebtedness of more than 750k obligates the board to a vote of the membership. I know some are lusting after the Lakeview remodel, but a project of that magnitude will take an enormous commitment by the membership and the leadership to do it right. I could easily see that rebuild (to be done right) running 40-50 million dollars.

    Interesting times indeed for Sun City. What fun is life without a few challenges?
  7. Larry

    Larry Active Member

    It would be helpful if they would earmark the amount of funds that are expected to ce used for work in progress. How much of that $31 million will be needed to pay for the lake project, the softball complex etc?
  8. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    I guess we'll never know but I wonder what it's costing the RCSC to buy-out Mr. Cook's contract? We might be paying him to simply stay at home for the rest of his contract year?

    Let's hope the search for a new GM goes rather quickly and he/she can be put in place prior to the beginning of the next term?

    I just hope the board picks a winner the first time out and not somebody who's also going to need to be replaced! We don't need revolving door GM's.
    LoriEllingson and suncityjack like this.
  9. Janet Curry

    Janet Curry Active Member

    Selecting a new General Manager is one of the three most important responsibilities of the RCSC Board. (The other responsibilities are passing reasonable Bylaws that comply with the Articles of Incorporation and passing a viable budget.) It will be imperative that the new General Manager shares the VISION of this Board of Directors who were elected to represent our Members. Another "must" is that the new GM commits to following the direction of the Board, enforcing the RCSC Bylaws and approving justifiable expenditures of the budget. Transparency and honesty are the hallmarks of a successful relationship. If the new person can do those things, the Board will not need to be involved in the day to day operation of the organization.

    Personally I would like to see an individual that has enthusiasm for the future of RCSC, is interested in its history, and shows leadership to accomplish the things that need to complete the goals of this organization in a reasonable fashion. He/She will have the advantage of the ASU study to help mold the long range plan that heads us in that direction. IT IS AN EXCITING TIME! The new GM should share that excitement and appreciate the work that the Members and Staff have done with regard to the work with ASU. I know many people scoff at it costing $55,000 but I think we will reap the benefits of that expenditure for years.

    Hiring a new leader is not an easy task and involves many important steps. Boards are generally comprised of volunteers, many of which have little or no experience nor knowledge of how to find a successful leadership candidate. This involves more than just advertising, interviewing and hiring. I hope our Board will pursue this important endeavor with professional help. That could be found in professional organizations representing nonprofits, a "head hunter" or some other ways. I have personally been involved in the hiring process of five or six "CEO's" of nonprofit organizations with varying degrees of success. (Thankfully, none were disastrous!) One of the most important components of the selection process is reference checking and I mean more than just checking the references listed on the candidate's resume. They need to go deep into a candidate's history and talk to a multitude of people. One suggestion would be to have a professional help with the advertising, screening of the applications, and checking references. (And, YES, this will cost us money, but money well spent!) Then the Board could interview the final three or so and make their final selection. Then the negotiating begins as to all of the components of the contract which a professional can help with immensely. Their experience can save the organization money in the long run.

    Good luck to the Board on this important process! Selecting the BEST candidate is more important than doing it quickly.
    Last edited: May 27, 2023
  10. eyesopen

    eyesopen Well-Known Member

    Excellent advice, Janet! Thanks for sharing your experience.
    In addition to wisely enlisting a professional search organization, I think we, the members, should be included at key bench marks in the process. A committee dedicated to partner several months with the chosen search organization.

    Search Recommendations from
    First Source for Nonprofit Leaders Since 1963
    Last edited: May 26, 2023
  11. Janet Curry

    Janet Curry Active Member

    I agree that Members should be included in some form without giving any group too much leeway. I recall a superintendent search where we followed the National School Board Association's guidance to the letter rather than hiring professionals. After several stakeholder groups met and we had spent months and many $$$ on the search, the teachers group told us that we should disregard all applicants and start over. We didn't follow their advice but their request was presented at a public meeting and made the newspaper which didn't make for an optimal start for the new guy. In fact, he almost didn't accept our offer because of it. We had given the stakeholders groups too much authority to give their report at a public meeting instead of in writing. Just shows that there are pitfalls in finding a leader. I think a reliable search firm will help avoid problems and save a great deal of frustration.
    Last edited: May 27, 2023
  12. LoriEllingson

    LoriEllingson New Member

    A successful leader should establish a positive work environment that encourages employee engagement and development, and is based on cooperation, trust and communication. Based on statements from employees and members, the past 2 GM’s used fear as their mode of management. Fear is not an effective management and leadership strategy, and it usually leads to negative results. A fear-based management style can undermine employee morale, creativity, and productivity; which can ultimately lead to employee turnover and organizational instability.

    I have faith that the board members understand the importance of hiring someone with excellent leadership skills. First and foremost, that person will have the ability to manage his/her team by following some of these effective ways to manage and lead:

    Motivation: Understand the needs and motivations of employees and provide appropriate incentives, such as rewards and recognition, so that employees feel valued and appreciated.

    Clear communication: Maintain open and transparent communication with employees to ensure the flow of information, understand their concerns and opinions, and provide clear guidance and feedback.

    Nurture development: Provide training and development opportunities for employees to help them improve their skills and abilities and develop a clear plan for their career development.

    Build trust: Build trusting relationships with employees, respect their views and opinions, and encourage them to share ideas and ask questions.

    Encourage teamwork: Promote teamwork and collaboration, create a positive work atmosphere, and stimulate creativity and mutual support among employees.

    Set clear goals: Work with employees to set clear goals and expectations, make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, and provide them with the necessary resources and support.

    Listen and give feedback: Listen to employees' feedback and suggestions, and conduct regular evaluations and discussions with them to solve problems and improve work processes together.

    By adopting these positive management and leadership approaches, leaders can create a positive productive work environment that inspires employees' potential and improves the performance of the entire team.
  13. LoriEllingson

    LoriEllingson New Member

    You are spot on Eyes Open with your statement that “Cook wasn’t qualified to have been hired in the first place.” If you look at his background, education, and certifications, you will quickly see that his area of training was an entry level accounts payable/accounts receivable position. His actions and statements showed us that he lacked any type of leadership skills or experience.
  14. LoriEllingson

    LoriEllingson New Member

    You make an extremely valid point FYI when you said “You don’t hire a bean-counter when you’re looking for a CEO.” If a professional hiring company were to compare Bill Cook’s résumé to the other candidates that applied for the position, they would quickly discard him for the position based on his lack of work experience, key skills, and minimal job related qualifications. So now the question that we need to ask is: was Bill Cook the preferred choice of Jan Ek because he knew where all the skeletons were hidden; or was he promoted into that position because he could still be controlled and used as Jan Ek’s “Puppet on a String?” ………things that make you go hmm!
    Janet Curry and eyesopen like this.
  15. CMartinez

    CMartinez Active Member

    Lori Ellingson you built a marvelous list of characteristics to be sought after for the future leader of Sun City. I would. with your permission, like to expound on this list just a bit, as these were my ideals that I held when the past manager was put in place. I did not say hired, I said put in place, as that is exactly what happened.

    I would love to see a seach generated for someone that not only has the skills needed to be the type of leader described above, but I would like the search to be somewhat targeted to someone what has specific knowledge and past verifiable experience in our unique needs as a community,

    I would like to see a search for someone who has prior experience with a large non-profit company. Someone that knows and understands the needs of maintaining a specfic focus of a non-profit corporation. There is a difference contained in the focus of being a manager of a non-profit versus a for profit corporation.

    I would dearly love to see a person selected who has strong ability and proven skills in building and creating a membership centric organization. A person who undertands the absolute need to inclusive of the members of the RCSC. This person would have proven capabilities of being a probelm solver utlizing the community resources as the major part of the any solutions sought.

    It would be most ideal to find someone who understands the need for technology to be a forerunner within any segment of a successful venture. One canoot rely on studies or any other submitted documentation that doesnt have the technology beind to prove the data viable. The old adage of garbage in/garbage out comes to mind. There needs to be a mindset of moving forward is going to be the lifeblood of this community. Moving forward means having the technology to support documentation, studies, monies spent and a way to distribute the data to the members in a way that is usable for all.

    Well that is my diatrible for this afternoon. Sorry to just pop in and spout off, but these were my hot button items before the last poor choice was installed. I thnk you for your time, it is mpost appreciated.
  16. Alesia m Brown

    Alesia m Brown New Member

    Is this the first step in getting our community back from all outside privileged golfers and bowlers? Is Brian next?
    old and tired and Janet Curry like this.
  17. eyesopen

    eyesopen Well-Known Member

    Cook’s unimpressive “qualifications” to be RCSC GM… Was anyone else even considered??

    From SignalHire
    Bill Cook
    Current Position:
    General Manager at Recreation Centers of Sun City, Inc.
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Experience: 28 years
    Get email address:
    Phone number:
    According to LinkedIn Bill Cook started working in 1995, then the employee has changed 5 companies and 8 jobs. On average, Bill Cook works for one company for 2 years 9 months. Bill Cook has been working as a General Manager for Recreation Centers of Sun City, Inc. for 669 days. If you are interested in this candidate, contact him directly by using contact details provided by SignalHire.
    Work Experience
    • General Manager at Recreation Centers of Sun City, Inc.
      Jun 2021 - Current (that needs updating)
    • Director of Finance Recreation Centers of Sun City, Inc.
      Jun 2019 - Jun 2021
    • Director of Finance at Chrysalis Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence, Inc. (Phoenix, Arizona, United States)
      May 2018 - Mar 2019
    • Director Workforce Management at Nokia (Espoo, Southern Finland, Finland)
      Dec 2013 - Jun 2015
    • Director Advanced Procurement at Nokia (Espoo, Southern Finland, Finland)
      Jan 2012 - Dec 2012
    • Director of Operations atLucent (Southbank, Victoria, Australia)
      Jan 2009 - Dec 2011
    • Director Project Management, VoIP Integration Services, Product Manager at AG Communication Systems
      Jan 2004 - Dec 2008
    • Director of Payroll and Accounts Payable at AG Communication Systems
      Jan 1998 - Dec 2003
    • Assistant Treasurer at AG Communication Systems
      Jan 1995 - Dec 1998
    • Owner at Cartridge World North America (New York, New York, United States)
      Jan 2006 - Jun 2008
    • Accounting at Penn State University
    From Sun City Independent,
    April 6, 2021

    RCSC preps for new leader in Sun City
    Cook gets running start to GM spot
    “He started as the rec centers’ finance director in June 2019. In addition, he will have another six-plus months under the tutelage of Ms. Ek. Her retirement will be official at the end of the calendar year, but she will remain on staff to help with the transition, according to Joelyn Higgins, RCSC communications and marketing coordinator.

    Mr. Cook is familiar with the work ahead of him, thanks to his work background prior to coming to Sun City.

    “I spent half of my career in financial leadership roles and half of my career in operational leadership roles,” he stated in an email.

    He spent 25 years with AT&T, GTE, AG Communication Systems, Lucent Technologies and Alcatel-Lucent.

    These are all one company with name changes due to ownership shifts,” he explained.

    As the RCSC general manager position requires both financial and operational knowledge, he believes his background prepared him for his role with the rec centers.”
  18. LoriEllingson

    LoriEllingson New Member

    CMartinez, your ideals are well written and well thought out. The qualities that you point out are exactly what will be needed when selecting this new hire. Thank you for your involvement with helping to steer our community in the right direction. Your input is greatly welcomed.
  19. Janet Curry

    Janet Curry Active Member

    Great ideas from everyone! That special person is out there for RCSC.
  20. FYI

    FYI Well-Known Member

    And think back! If you remember, Chris Herring at one time was the assistant general manager! You would have thought that he would be the one to slip into Jan Eck's job, but apparently he made some misguided judgments that financially cost the RCSC to correct. But there again, it's my understanding that Chris was an IT guy and wasn't really qualified to serve as assistant general manager let alone be promoted to general manager! Look, I'm not trying to denigrate anybody because I'm sure they were all very good at their jobs in the careers they were trained for! But you can't just plop anybody into any position if they have no experience!

    It's probably not going to be easy or cheap to find the right person. It's my understanding that there were a few VERY qualified candidates but the dollars weren't there to cause them to leave their current place of employment.

    Let's remain optimistic.
    Janet Curry likes this.

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