On the Job with Michael Bunting

Michael Bunting is the general manager of Doublegate Country Club.

Michael Bunting is the general manager of Doublegate Country Club.

“On the Job With...” is a weekly feature of Sunday Inc. Today, Michael Bunting of Doublegate Country Club shares his remarks with Danny Carter.


NAME: Michael Bunting

AGE: 60

POSITION: general manager, Doublegate Country Club.

EDUCATION: Culinary Institute of America, Marshall University.

FAMILY: Engaged to Monti Brattain. He has three sons and three grandchildren.

BACKGROUND: Bunting has 45 years in the hospitality industry including general manager, executive chef, culinary instructor/program coordinator, caterer, consultant and ice sculptor. He is a certified food service management personnel member and was 1988 Chef of the Year in North Carolina. He has won 37 culinary competition awards. Bunting is a member of Club Managers Association.

Q. What was your first job?

A. A morning newspaper delivery route. Up at 4 a.m., seven days a week, rain, snow, whatever. Back then you also had to collect the payment on a weekly basis so I had to spend two or three evenings a week going door to door. I remember many customers would ask me to come back later for the 50 cents it cost for the week.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. I bought my mother a necklace. She recently gave it back to me and I gave it to my granddaughter.

Q. What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. Motivating some of the hourly employees to enjoy their work as much as I enjoy mine.

Q. What led you to your current position?

A. I was asked to lead the culinary team when the chef was terminated on the first day of December, 2001. I had been in GM positions for 13 years and hadn’t been working as a chef all that time. I was offered the General Manager position when Doublegate reorganized and have now been here 10 years.

Q. Who was your role model?

A. My father worked very hard to provide for his family and always helped everyone in a humble way.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Be proactive, not reactive. Americans are changing their way of life and what they spend money on.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology — examples email, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. — what would you most like to see go away?

A. Automated phone systems are not customer-friendly and are a detriment to good business practices.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. Computers allow for quick communication and information.

Q. What is your favorite tradition?

A. Thanksgiving is a great time to be with family and friends to celebrate the meaning of the holiday.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. The series of private club-related reference books, trade magazines. The Herald every morning.

Q. I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?

A. Up by 7. Coffee, newspaper and the network news. Begin answering/returning phone calls beginning around 8.

Q. What famous people have you met?

A. President Ronald Reagan at his first inauguration. He came aboard “the Erie 400” (J. P. Morgan’s former private railroad car). A friend owned the car and I traveled extensively on it for many years. I also met the man who invented the “port-a-john” and got preferred passes to the inauguration because he had the contract to provide the convenience stations for the event (Johnny Carson was suing him because he printed “Here’s Johnny” on them). I was also privileged to attend the “Inaugural Ball” held at the Washington Hilton Hotel with Tanya Tucker, Glen Campbell, Charlie Pride and Charleton Heston. I have also met and catered to Rod Stewart/band, REO Speedwagon, Tom Jones, Cheryl Ladd, Rick Springfield, Roman Gabriel, Mel Ott, Donny Shell, Ben Davidson, Art Fleming, Soupy Sales, Ray Knight, Stedman Graham, Edwin McCain and, of course Nancy Lopez, a truly wonderful person.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. Riding my Harley, sailing in Charleston harbor, boating on the Flint, ice and wood sculpturing.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. I bought a 34 room mountain inn complete with a 100-seat restaurant. It was 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and consumed my whole life. The worst part was taking possession during Christmas and having to service a family reunion that had pre-paid for the holiday. The money was absconded by the previous owners so, I did it for a loss of revenue.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. The members I work for and the diversity and challenges of leading a great team of professionals to maintain and service 222 acres, golf course, tennis, fitness and pool facilities and a 22,000 square foot clubhouse with food and beverage service.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Being on call 24/7, even holidays. Vacations are the same and I don’t ever take all of the days allotted.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. Business Management.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. A drummer in a rock and roll band or a boat captain.

Q. Finish this thought; “on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself…

A. Sailing from port to port with Monti and seeing our boys and grandchildren more often.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Integrity.

Q. Crystal ball time: What’s your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. When the leaders of this great country put our well being ahead of theirs.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Jazz, rock, country — anything but rap crap.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. Hopefully more industry.

Q. What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Why?

A. Sailing in Charleston harbor with Monti and my boys last year, then going to visit my family in the mountains.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. Competition for recreational dollars has increased dramatically with overbuilding of golf courses and increases in family-oriented venues.