Cash-strapped country club has a buyer
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Dec 01, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Cash-strapped country club has a buyer

Stratford Gazette

Jeff Heuchert

Shareholders of the Stratford Country Club have voted to accept a purchase offer from Kitchener-based Gateman-Milloy.

The land development and property management company, which also has over 30 years of experience in the golf business, will assume and pay off all of the country club's outstanding debts, totaling approximately $1.7 million.

Country club president Mark Straus, in an email to local media, said the sale agreement was a "positive outcome" for the cash-strapped organization and was "celebrated amongst shareholders and members" Friday evening, Nov. 28, when the preferred option for the sale of the club was presented.

At that meeting, shareholders passed four resolutions, authorizing the sale of all the country club's assets to Gateman-Milloy and, when it's appropriate, to dissolve the corporation known as Stratford Country Club Limited.

"We have a bit of work to do in the next two weeks to complete the entire sale agreement, but Gateman-Milloy has indicated they are willing to waive all conditions of sale by the December 15 deadline … as per the forbearance agreement we signed with our financial institution," said Straus. "As a result of these passed resolutions and with the confidence the sale agreement will be completed and all conditions waived by December 15, Gateman-Milloy will take over full ownership, management and debt by January 31, 2015."

The country club's troubles became public knowledge in late October after members were notified in a series of email messages from Straus, who indicated the organization was facing "severe financial difficulty" and would be working towards finding an immediate solution after the bank demanded full repayment of its mortgage and line of credit.

In addition to Gateman-Milloy, the country club received purchase offers from three separate parties: club members Harry Van Dam and Jamie Pyper, and one from GolfNorth, as well as several informal propositions.

Each formal proposal was evaluated by the board of directors and a member-based committee on the following four criteria:

1. Does the proposal maintain all activities of the SCC?

2. Do the parties of the proposal have golf course management experience?

3. Does the proposal include yearly capital investment into the club?

4. What are the exact dollars proposed?

According to Straus, Gateman-Milloy is prepared to invest "significant capital" into the club over the next five years, and under the terms of the sale has indicated it will maintain full operations of the golf course, squash, curling, and banquet facilities.

"It will be business as usual," he added.

This will be the company's second golf course in Perth County. In 2007 the member-run board of directors for the country club in Listowel opted to sell the facility to

Gateman-Milloy when faced with its own money troubles. According to a Listowel Banner article from 2012, the company has invested heavily in the years since to improve the course itself, the clubhouse, and parking lot.

Gateman-Milloy also owns Rebel Creek Golf Club in Petersburg and has built or renovated over 100 golf courses.

"They have a firm understanding of the golf business," said Straus.

The sale notwithstanding, the country club remains the subject of an undisclosed police investigation.

The club announced last month it was addressing some "financial irregularities" and also revealed that some members' credit cards had been charged erroneously.

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