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Phillips named operations director

Colby Phillips

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(April 11, 2019) Colby Phillips has been named the new director of operations for the Ocean Pines Association.

The position was created at the Saturday board meeting and on Monday Phillips was appointed to the role by interim General Manager John Viola.

According to a motion by Association President Doug Parks, the position was requested by Viola, “with a salary range commensurate with the associated duties and responsibilities.”

Phillips has been the association’s aquatics director for several years, and more recently took on additional duties as director of parks and recreation and racquet sports. She will apparently also continue in those responsibilities.

When General Manager John Bailey departed in February, Phillips was given even more to do on the operational side, essentially splitting the job of a general manager with Finance Director Steve Phillips. Empowering both, so far, has been seen as an effective move by the board of directors.

Phillips emailed a statement on Tuesday:

“I am honored to be given this promotion and truly enjoy my job here in Ocean Pines. We have a tremendous team that I enjoy working with and I am extremely excited John Viola has stepped up to be the general manager.

“We have a lot we are working on, and the team as a whole is ready to continue working towards the future success of Ocean Pines and bringing the best we can to the community. I have truly appreciated everyone’s support.”

Viola on Saturday hinted he had someone in mind when he said of the new position, “this is not an increase to staff.”

“This is what I believe is needed from an operations standpoint, [to] make us stronger,” he said. “Assuming this is approved by the board, we are working already on how we would look at the structure, within her responsibilities.”

Director Jeff Knepper said he’d had similar discussions about such a position with former General Manager Bob Thompson.

“I don’t think I called it director of operations – I called it a second GM,” Knepper said. “I made that recommendation to him. I made that recommendation to Mr. Bailey … and the reason why I made that recommendation was it looked to me the job of general manager was growing in responsibility and complexity, to the point where we needed a second member in there, helping to do the job.”

Knepper said his previous company, Intel, did something similar and labeled it “two in a box.” He added, “You get a better result, I think, if you fracture the responsibility correctly.”

“Our members want things done. They want to ask reasonable questions [and] get reasonable answers and, if they highlight a problem, have somebody who could go fix it,” he said. “I think the job here is broad enough to support that structure [expanding].”

Director Esther Diller said it was “the definition of insanity” for Ocean Pines to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

“We’ve gone through three GMs [in] recent times,” she said. Viola is the fourth in four years. “To keep doing the same old [thing] … isn’t working.”

Diller said the board was given a unique opportunity, in replacing Bailey, to finally try something different.

“This job, in my opinion, is too big for one man, or woman,” she said. “Having this layer of management with a director of operations and a director of finance … helps make us, as a whole, more successful.

“For us to move forward and continue to grow, it is imperative that the GM have the right support,” Diller continued. “You have to have this to move forward, or we’re just going keep making the same mistakes that we have done for the last number of years.”

Director Colette Horn was also supportive.

“The organization has grown to the point where that model [of having one person a the top] no longer works. We need a more nimble decision-making model and I think this decentralized model is exactly what we need,” she said.

Director Frank Daly called the new position “a good and necessary first step.”

“And I think you can look forward to other steps to make us more effective in our management of this association, from both a financial standpoint and from an operating standpoint,” he said.

Director Slobodan Trendic called the move, “very obvious and long overdue.”

Association Vice President Steve Tuttle said he’s worked closely with public works since Bailey departed and has “seen the benefit of having someone who is on the front line, who is responding to questions [and] answering concerns from association members,” as well as helping the department to better organize.

“I’m very supportive of this motion and I think it positions us well for whatever we do in the future, whether we bring in another general manager” or outsource the position, Tuttle continued. “If, for some reason, a GM comes in [and] it doesn’t work out and in two years they’re gone, we have the team in place to keep the association moving forward in a strong way.”

The directors voted unanimously to create the position.