Early on, new GM switched sights from pro tennis to club management—and hasn’t looked back

Geary Goss, General Manager, Quivira, Inc.
Geary Goss, General Manager, Quivira, Inc.

By Lisa Phlegar
There’s a new face at the helm, steering the course for Q. Inc. and Lake Quivira Country Club, General Manager Geary Goss.
On May 16, Geary started his new adventure at Lake Quivira following the retirement of Dennis Nighswonger. Geary brings with him over 26 years of club management experience. He has managed private, semi-private and resort clubs. Previously, he served as the general manager of The Country Club of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, LA. He has also held general manager positions at Firerock Country Club in Fountain Hill, AZ, and Lochinvar Golf Club in Houston, TX. Even though each club was unique, Geary operated under a common mandate of attaining the highest possible member and guest experience while utilizing the club.
In his role as a General Manager, he has successfully developed budgets, marketing and membership platforms, short and long term strategic plans, and policy and procedure reviews, as well as operating principles, utilizing the club’s mission statement, vision and core values as a foundation. Additionally, he has extensive experience in golf course agronomy, golf operations, tennis operations, planning and implementing capital projects and programs designed to increase member use of all clubhouse facilities. Furthermore, Geary has experience managing large and small homeowner associations.
Q. How did you first get into the club industry?
Geary chuckled a little and then started talking about how, back in the day, he had aspirations of becoming a professional tennis player. However, that dream was squelched after a 20-minute tennis match and a loss of love and 1 with an All-American Tennis Professional. That tennis match provided Geary with the insight that being a professional tennis player was not in his future.
So, Geary changed his future when an opportunity arrived to manage Bear Creek Golf Club in Dallas, TX. That is where Geary got “hooked” as he says and found his passion; being able to provide a great experience to members and guests.
Q. How has the club industry evolved since you began your career?
“Back when, a club would promote a great maître d to the position of managing a 2-4 million dollar club. Unfortunately, clubs failed,” Geary said. He continued describing how the industry moved towards hiring professionals. Through the years more and more business professionals were being hired in all aspects of staffing. After five years with Bear Creek, Geary decided to return to school and earn an accounting degree with a minor in economics. He determined these degrees would help enhance his skills and qualifications in the industry where he discovered his passion.
Q. What do members want out of their club?
“Biggest thing . . . a safe place where family and friends can have a quality time and a great experience,” Geary stated.
Q. What lessons have you learned throughout your years as general manager?
Geary mentioned how he has found that staff wants to do a good job, but they need tools, resources and training to be successful. Therefore, it is important to be pro-active in developing the staff, as this can result in big benefits to the club.
Q. What do you like to do for fun?
For fun, Geary enjoys spending quality time with his family. He mentioned how family is his number one priority. Geary and his wife Susan have three children; one son and two daughters. Their children have blessed them with four grandchildren; three boys and one girl. His children and grandchildren are located in Oklahoma City, OK, Fort Worth, TX, and Houston, TX. Fortunately for Geary and Susan, living in Kansas will provide them easier access to their family, thus increasing their time together.
Geary also enjoys the thrill of heading down the road on his motorcycle, visiting new and interesting places. With Susan on the back, they have ridden up into the beautiful Arizona mountains. Additionally, they have ridden through the Grand Canyon and visited interesting ghost towns along the way. One of Geary’s favorite places to visit is Sedona, AZ—“one of the prettiest cities out there!” Recently, he purchased a 2017 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra motorcycle and plans on christening it on the roadways of Kansas.
Additionally, Geary enjoys hunting. I asked him what he hunts, and he said hunting is a fairly new sport for him. He is however, captivated by the turkeys he saw this morning by the house. He went back into the house to rummage through an unopened moving box to find his turkey call. His plan is not to hunt them, but rather just enjoy their presence.
Geary is excited to be the new General Manager of Lake Quivira Country Club. He is looking forward to Lake Quivira’s future and elated with the vision the members have conveyed through the Strategic Planning Committee.
Please stop by the Clubhouse to meet Geary during his Welcome Reception on Tues., June 6, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Summary of May 23 Board Meeting

President Sestak opened the meeting by welcoming Geary Goss to his first meeting as General Manager. He then invited attending members to share comments or ask questions. Bridget Vani took the floor regarding the topic of underage golf cart drivers, requesting the current rules be enforced. Chief Fred Grenier stated in order for the Lake Quivira Police Department to take action, it must be a violation of law; the police department can’t enforce a rule. President Sestak asked members not to call out other members, but rather to notify the General Manager. Mr. Goss referenced his experience at other clubs having similar issues. A 3” x 3” reflective cart number was required on each cart so it could be clearly read. Youth drivers completing the safety class received a laminated country club driver’s license, which they were required to carry when driving the cart. Should the child commit a violation, their license could be suspended or revoked. John Nelson mentioned that golf carts at Lake Quivira should each have these numbers; however, enforcement has become lax, and that is in the process of changing.
President’s Report
President Sestak stated he would like to change the agenda for future meetings to hear the report from the General Manager earlier in the meeting. He then asked Mr. Goss to share his initial observations during his first week at Lake Quivira.
General Manager’s Report
During his first week, Mr. Goss stated he was set up on an onboarding program with department heads and going over the Quivira, Inc. business. So far, he has spent days with several department heads, reviewing their operations. With the recent change in Controllers and some reporting changes put into effect, Mr. Goss mentioned April financials weren’t ready to present. A meeting was scheduled tomorrow morning with Mr. Wilson. The delay has nothing to do with validity, but how and where items are reported. Moving forward, the plan is to have the system do more of the work, and the process should be more fluid within the next two months.
Marketing Committee
The committee did not have a meeting in May. Ms. Bowker cited the Club has four new country club members and four new social members so far this year. She informed everyone an open house was held last Sunday with tours in conjunction with the realtors’ red balloon open house event. Work on the new member orientation guide continues and is waiting for a piece on construction protocol to be added. The committee is teaming with the Photography Club with the assignment this month to do architectural photography around the lake. Ms. Bowker continued by saying the goal is to do a press release on Lake Quivria’s quaint environment and the cool architectural diversity around the lake.
Finance Committee
Mr. Wilson expressed his support of the close process being put in place and that they are looking at the schedule to make sure the committee meeting is far enough in advance of the Board Meeting to be able to present their notes. Mr. French mentioned Mr. Goss attended the last meeting and offered several ideas to help streamline the process; the committee is pleased to have him here.
Golf Committee
Mr. Markley stated the committee had recently taken a tour of the course. This was enlightening to some members even though they play golf. He mentioned he would like the Board to also take a tour to see what the staff has been doing on the course.
Mr. Markley reported during a recent storm a tree limb fell on the roof of the outhouse on #13 green, so a new roof will need to be installed. He then spoke about the nematode issue on the course and that these parasites feed off roots and kill the grass. Courses with sandy soil have an issue with nematodes. Unfortunately, we have the nastiest variety. A treatment has been applied, but the course will need to be continually tested.
Lake and Residential Committee
Mr. Nelson made a motion to publish a proposed rule change in the Quiviran prohibiting the use of any used flotation material from floating dock construction. Motion seconded and approved.
Mr. Nelson spoke on the topic of establishing a service agreement with an engineering firm. Proposals were received from eight firms, and Mr. Nelson and Anita Bible met with two firms; Olsson & Associates and Schlagel & Associates. It was unanimously approved by the committee to move forward with Olsson & Associates. Mr. Nelson made a motion to begin negotiations with Olsson & Associates to establish an engineering agreement with Quivira, Inc. for a one-year term and renewable up to three years. Mr. Braun seconded the motion. With one abstention, motion approved.
Mr. Nelson reported the Saddle Club made a presentation to the committee on the state of the front quarantine barn. They presented a proposal for replacing the front barn with a 36’ x 36’ metal building. The estimated cost is $120,000. The club is confident they would be able to raise the money. Mr. Nelson made a motion to approve in principle a proposal from the Saddle Club to construct a new barn replacing the current quarantine facility, allowing them to pursue design and third party funding. Ms. Walker seconded the motion. Motion approved. The proposal must be first approved by the Board for it to go before the Foundation. Once funding is secured, this proposal will be brought back for further consideration by the Board. Ms. Bowker expressed concern regarding the barn being a metal building should restrictions on metal structures be set in the future.
Mr. Nelson brought up the issue of debris removal around the lake. He explained Gary Anderson found a company which will come out, pick-up the debris, carry it away, and mulch it. Cost would be $10 per cubic yard, which on annual basis would cost $12,000 to $15,000. It was agreed to further review this approach as it would alleviate Lake Maintenance the nuisance and handling of debris.
Mr. Nelson gave an update on the infrastructure review. The tours are finished, and there will be a meeting tomorrow to prioritize the capital projects. He plans to present it to the committee next month for review and hopes to present a preliminary report to the Board during the June meeting.
Ms. Bowker inquired about the weed issue at the Saddle Club. Mr. Nelson stated, per the State of Kansas, we are required to irradicate noxious weeds. Currently, we have a serious curly dock weed issue. A proposal to kill the curly dock and reseed was received; however, the committee has not yet reviewed the proposal.
Restrictions Committee
Mr. Braun indicated the committee has voted to change meeting dates from the first Monday to the third Monday of each month. Because the committee’s meeting date is published in the By-Laws, approval is needed by the Board. Mr. Braun made a motion to change the Restriction Committee’s meeting date from the first Monday to the third Monday of each month. Mr. French seconded the motion. Motion approved.
Mr. Braun introduced Tammy Bailey, who provided a brief overview on the continual discussion of a construction impact fee. Ms. Bailey asked the Board to consider its recommendation on several options; a fee based on per axel charge per truck or on a percentage of the project cost. President Sestak interjected this topic has been discussed for several years, and it is time for the Board to provide some direction as to the option it prefers. Mr. Nelson made a motion to implement a permitted construction impact fee based on a percentage of the job cost and authorize the Restrictions and Lake & Residential Committees to formulate the verbiage for such rules to be provided no later than the July Board meeting. Mr. French seconded the motion. Motion approved.
Safety and Security Committee
Ms. Walker spoke about a continuing issue regarding member complaints about parking on the west side of Lakeshore Drive. This issue has been discussed various times during committee meetings. The committee voted on a potential rule change; the current rule is no overnight parking on the lake side of Lakeshore Drive, the proposed change in rule is no overnight parking on either side; however, vote failed 5 to 3. Therefore, the committee is at a loss and looking for help from the Board. President Sestak stated the Board needs to figure out what its rights are to act on matters not specifically outlined in the rules and asked Mr. Goss to review the situation and recommend a course of action.
House Committee
Ms. Boling spoke about the odor issue in the Clubhouse. A1 Sewer Service identified a sewer pipe in the basement storage area that has breached, causing fluid to collect in the pipe. The proposed cost to fix the problem is $12,000 and would be done over three successive Mondays. A motion was made and unanimously approved to move forward with the repairs from A1 Sewer Service.
Ms. Boling gave a brief overview of the process for redesigning the Clubhouse’s lower level. In the 2017 budget, $15,000 was allotted for obtaining the services of a design firm to do a creative concept on what could be done to make it more functional and user friendly to the members. Concern was noted from Ms. Boling on the possibility of a conflict with the Strategic Planning process. It was agreed this project is not in conflict with any plans being proposed by the Strategic Planning Committee. Ms. Boling stated the House Committee will start advertising for member meetings with the architects in mid-June to allow interested members to share their ideas on potential design concepts to consider.
Tennis Committee
Ms. Walker who who is responsible for turning the tennis court lights off. Several recent incidents have occurred where the lights have been left on at night. The lights are not on a timer and must be turned off manually. Chief Grenier offered to have his team turn them off before they go off duty.
Strategic Planning Committee
President Sestak briefly spoke about the three member-review sessions recently held at the Clubhouse. He indicated the committee is preparing a member survey to go out in June to assess the level of support on each of the options. This information will be used to help prioritize what the members want to have done or not done as the committee works to finalize the Master Plan.
New Business
President Sestak announced the admission of three new committee members; Harley Ball (Tennis Committee), Tony Feiock (Safety & Security Committee), and Bill Eckinger (House Committee). All three admissions were unanimously approved.

Proposed New Rule [Flotation] – Published June 2017

All flotation materials utilized for floating dock construction or refurbishment must be constructed of encapsulated foam and be purchased new, not previously used in any body of water. All dock construction materials and components are subject to inspection and a two (2) week quarantine period as outlined in Q Inc. Rules and Regulations related to Lake Usage.

Strategic Planning: Surveying the Options

By Steve Sestak
Thank you to those members who took the time to attend the Member Review Sessions last month. It was important to hear whether we are on the right track and have considered the types of future improvements our members would like to see in the community. While I am sure opinions are already forming, both in favor and opposed to certain options, it does seem like there is growing number who believe something should be done. If you were not able to attend the sessions, the presentations have been posted to the Lake Quivira website under Strategic Planning.
The next step is to administer a Member Survey to assess and determine the preliminary level of member support for each of the Strategic Options outlined by the Strategic Planning Committee. This is an opinion survey only, not a vote on any of these potential projects. The results will be used by the Committee to determine which projects to include in the Master Plan and, for those included, the potential priority in which each project should be considered.
The survey will start with a series of demographic questions, followed by each category of options; Community Infrastructure, Member Amenities and Golf Amenities. To assist you in completing the survey, a summary of each Strategic Option will be included with a conceptual illustration, key features, and preliminary cost estimates for both Project Costs (design, construction and financing) and Annual Costs (operating, maintenance and capital reserve), as well as a monthly estimate for each member. The goal is to obtain at least a 75 percent response rate on the survey.
Further information and instructions will be sent along with the survey, and all members are encouraged to complete the survey in a timely manner.

Prez urges every member to complete Stretegic Planning survey when it arrives

By Steve Sestak, President, Quivira, Inc. Board of Directors

Construction is a regular occurrence at Lake Quivira. Last year, there were more than twenty major home and dock site projects completed. It is still too early to tell whether 2017 will eclipse these numbers. Residents making investments in our community is a good thing, but can also be a nuisance to the neighbors and put stress on our roads, our staff, and our infrastructure.
If you are considering a major home or dock site project this year, please start by carefully reviewing the procedures. Most major projects require steps be taken with either the Restrictions Committee (homes) or Lake & Residential Committee (dock sites), as well as with the City of Lake Quivira. The Board is also considering an Impact Fee to help offset the cost of road and infrastructure damage. We all want construction to be a positive experience, so please ask and don’t assume.
Our new General Manager, Geary Goss, started several weeks ago, and I hope that many of you have had the chance to meet him and his wife, Susan. We are very fortunate to have his talents and experiences at Lake Quivira. I am already impressed with his attention to details, his focus on member experience and his strategic perspective. It will take some time for Geary to learn everything about Lake Quivira, but I am confident he will be a real asset to our community.
The Strategic Planning Committee will soon be issuing a survey to determine the level of member support of each option. It does not matter whether you are a Foundation or Associate Member, whether you have lived here your entire life or are new to the community, or whether you regularly use our facilities or not. Every opinion matters. As Quivirans, we all share a common bond in our love for Lake Quivira and the responsibility to serve as stewards to this amazing community. We must all take this responsibility very seriously in order to leave Lake Quivira better than we found it for future generations to enjoy. Please make it a priority to share your opinions by completing this very important survey.
On the business side, we continue to be right on our financial plan, but are struggling with our membership numbers. The summer months will bring many visitors to our community. Every visitor is a prospective member, and every new member can be a prospective homebuyer. Please do your part to promote our wonderful community this summer. More members are good for everyone.

Why do we need a quarantine?

By John Nelson
Approximately six years ago, based on information provided from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and other State and Federal agencies, the Lake Quivira Board of Directors implemented a strict quarantine requirement for all watercraft entering our lake. This rule was enacted to stop the chance of infesting Lake Quivira with zebra mussels, which have infested lakes throughout most of the Midwest and East Coast. In most states, it is illegal to knowingly release zebra mussels into any waterbody. Additionally, many states on the West Coast have implemented border checkpoints for the examination of all watercraft being brought into their state. If any evidence is found, the vessel must immediately be taken to a decontamination/quarantine area.
First identified in 1988 in the Detroit River, it is believed zebra mussels were brought into the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway in the ballast water of ships from the Black and Caspian Seas in Europe. Once initial infestation had occurred, the spread of zebra mussels occurred rapidly throughout the Midwest and East Coast. With females laying thousands of larvae at a time, they will quickly overcome any body of water. The primary cause for further contamination of additional waterways occurs from the transport of the zebra mussel larvae in contaminated recreational boats and bait buckets between lakes and rivers. Once a lake is infested, a noticeable sign is the presence of crystal clear water, which many individuals identify as a healthy lake condition. In actuality, the opposite is true. Zebra mussels feed by filtering water, rapidly removing all the plankton and nutrient particles from the water. These particles are what cause the cloudy appearance in lake water and provide nourishment and protection for fish and other aquatic species necessary for a healthy lake and ecosystem. They also significantly reduce the oxygen levels in the water which enhances the growth of blue algae.
Today, over forty lakes and almost all major rivers throughout Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri are contaminated with zebra mussels. They are ranked as one of the top three aquatic invasive species threats to Kansas waters by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Most recently, the City of Lawrence has identified zebra mussels in parts of the city water system. Additionally, a small lake near Paola, KS, is now contaminated simply because they purchased and moved used dock flotation materials to the lake from Lake Lotawana in Missouri. The Lake and Residential Committee, working closely with Midwest Lake Management, tests Lake Quivira on an annual basis for the presence of zebra mussels. This year, the testing will also include certain areas upstream from Lake Quivira.
Lake Quivira rules are very specific relating to the control of zebra mussels. All watercraft, new or used, including, but not limited to, pontoon boats, motor boats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and all boat trailers must go through a two- week quarantine period at our Lake Maintenance Facility located at 4600 Renner Road. Additionally, all boat and dock site equipment, including outboard motors, paddles/oars, foam knee boards, swim floats, and dock materials including ladders and flotation materials must be reported and undergo the same quarantine period prior to being brought into our community. No live bait can be brought into the lake unless it was purchased from Minnesota Bait or Cabela’s and brought to the lake in the original bag with proof of purchase. Guests are not allowed to bring any bait to the lake.
In 2016, additional rules were implemented related to the use of sand for dock site construction purposes. In that most of the local construction sand comes from the KAW River, a contaminated river, all sand used for dock site construction or beaches must be kiln dried (heat treated) and purchased from an approved vendor. Verification of such purchase is required by Lake Quivira Security. Currently, the Lake and Residential Committee is in the process of implementing new rules concerning the use of only new encapsulated foam flotation materials for all floating dock construction or refurbishment. Violation of any of these rules would be subject to a fine and loss of lake privileges.
At times these rules may seem onerous. However, the health of our lake and golf course (lake water is used for irrigation) is of utmost importance for our future enjoyment and property values. Everyone is asked to do their part in controlling the spread of zebra mussels into Lake Quivira.
Please remember if you are intending to use that new water toy for your upcoming 4th of July party, it needs to be placed in quarantine by June 15. For further information, please feel free to contact Gary Anderson with LQ Lake Maintenance or any member of the Lake and Residential Committee.

Letter to the Editor

Welcome to Lake Quivira:, A Community Connected by Dreams
By Larry Meeker
Welcome, Geary Goss, to Lake Quivira. As our new General Manager, you have joined a truly “unique” community. Just ask anyone and they will tell you we are unique, and don’t be surprised if they explain it differently. Our mystique is difficult to define.
Like suburbia that is often considered a manifestation of “The American Dream,” Quivira is the manifestation of our sense of uniqueness. But, don’t be fooled and mistake our amenities for that uniqueness. Many communities have gates, country club amenities and even hiking trails; that doesn’t make us unique. Our uniqueness resides in a state of mind that tells us we are home when we drive through the front gate.
Although each of us defines that state of mind in our own personal way, there is a collective state of mind that evidences itself in different facets of our community. For example, we revere our history.
The plaque at the front gate commemorating Duane Everhart, a long-time guard who served from before World War II until his death in 1988, is a strong testament to our sense of community. Community is not just the residents; community reaches out to our country club members and occasional employees such as Duane. This is a place where very different people can come together and relish their kinship.
Our antiquated “Lake Quivira” entrance sign may look a bit odd to some because it spans only our entrance lanes. That’s because we had to save the sign when we widened the entrance and put a new guardhouse in the middle. We opted to renovate and expand our existing clubhouse in 2000, when a new clubhouse that would have cost only $500,000 more would have been far more functional, encompassed the pre-school and golf pro shop, accommodated management staff and had nearly 5,000 square feet of space left over for exercise equipment.
Our history is important to us because we sense our uniqueness has deep roots in that history, and we are reluctant to make major changes that might endanger our uniqueness. Perhaps the loss of green space—another attribute of our history—or having homes built next to the golf course nixed two of the three relatively recent development proposals. Or, maybe having a new development where homes would look like a typical suburban development felt out of character with our eclectic appearance. When we’re not exactly sure where those roots lie, we are reluctant to dig too close to them.
The mere fact that we’ve talked about new amenities and housing development for the 42 years I have lived here is also a window on Quivira’s uniqueness. Although action has been minimal and change slow, conversations have been long and often complicated. Those conversations alone, however, are part of the glue that binds us together and creates community. Sometimes the quest is as important as the goal.
Our sense of history, our sense of community and our continuing quest for Quivira’s future make us self-referential. We set our own standards and don’t look to others as a guide to our destiny. At times, that is challenging, such as when we court country club members. For us, however, those members are more than outside members; they are part of our Quivira family. . . something you can’t get at other clubs. Perhaps that’s why many of them ultimately buy Quivira homes and move here permanently.
Our amenities don’t have to be first class or serve all our needs. If you want to jet ski you need to go elsewhere, just as if you want a championship golf course you need to play elsewhere. It’s our sense of community that compels us to support a diverse set of amenities, many of which we may never use.
So, welcome, Geary, to your new family. We look forward to our conversations with you about our past, our present and our continuing quest for Quivira’s future. Some of us truly believe Coronado found his city of gold right here at Quivira; we’re just not sure what to make of it. So don’t be surprised if we are hesitant in our actions, and be sure to engage all of us in the conversations about our future.