By Greg Ellison
(June 10, 2021) In contrast to the steady drumbeat regarding staffing needs at the resort and elsewhere, Ocean Pines officials overseeing amenity operations report minimal problems with finding employees.
Matt Ortt Companies CEO Ralph DeAngelus, who identified staffing as the largest challenge this year, said sufficient labor has been obtained to avoid closing the Yacht Club, Clubhouse Bar & Grille or Beach Club.
“Staffing, without a shadow of a doubt, has been our biggest issue this year,” he said. “Luckily, we’re the only restaurant group with five or more locations that has not had to close for a day part or a day.”
DeAngelus said maintaining restaurant operations has been accomplished without stressing or overtaxing current staff.
“It’s been a tightrope and we’re walking a very fine line,” he said.
DeAngelus said the delicate balance could quickly alter with the departure of just a few employees.
“We’re in a good situation that we’re year-round and because of that people feel they have job security,” he said. “They tend to stay.”
DeAngelus said the Matt Ortt Companies strives to be a “staff friendly company.”
“We take good care of our employees and that seems to go a long way,” he said. “We have a genuine vested interest in their health and well being.”
The lack of staff at numerous Ocean City businesses has affected the bottom line for DeAngelus.
“The staff shortage in Ocean City has really raised the hourly wage for cooks and dishwashers,” he said. “We’ve had to give some people some bumps to keep them around.”
While an that’s an issue in the short term, DeAngelus envisions the scales balancing out in the end.
“Our company always thinks long-term so we’re not going to panic,” he said.
Director of Aquatics Kathleen Cook said despite some limited early season rotating pool closures, the outlook for this summer appears bright.
“It’s not unusual at the beginning of the season nor at the end,” she said.
Cook said with an abundance of lifeguards, who start as young as 15, just nearing the end of school the staffing picture is on the verge of improving.
“We tend to struggle the first couple weeks of the summer and the last two weeks of the summer,” she said.
During the slight staffing lull experienced during early and late summer, facilities are prioritized based on uses.
“We always put the focus on guarding the indoor pools because it has classes,” she said.
Also deemed of prime importance are the Yacht Club and Beach Club.
“It helps facilitate the food and beverage,” she said. “It’s really no different than any other year.”
Despite instituting limited pool closures on weekdays, peak times have not been impacted.
“We’ve been able to accomplish keeping all the pools running on the weekends,” she said.
General Manager of Golf John Malinowski said staffing challenges have eased tremendously as compared to last spring.
“Right now, I think we’re fully staffed both on the operations side and golf maintenance,” he said.
Malinowski said greens are in superior condition as the summer season hits full stride.
“The new clubhouse helps with getting people in and out in a timely manner,” he said.
Malinowski said when larger numbers of players begin invading the golf course in springtime there are typically a few staffing challenges.
“When things first get busy we’re running a little bit tight,” he said. “We were probably a little bit short staffed but now that the college kids are coming back were ok.”
Malinowski said unlike past years where some staff preferred to work fewer hours, this season the sentiment has changed.
“This year we’ve got guys and girls that want to work,” he said. “I like where we’re headed with our staff and everything else for this year.”
Based on early indicators Malinowski foresees a successful summer at the Ocean Pine Golf Course.
“It’s the first time, probably since I’ve been here, that I haven’t had to worry too much about shifts getting covered,” he said. “That’s a good thing, especially after last year.”