Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: Maine Huts and Trails not opening two huts for full service this summer and fall

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gorham NH
    Posts
    5,896

    Maine Huts and Trails not opening two huts for full service this summer and fall

    Grandfalls and Poplar Hut will be closed. Flagstaff Hut and Stratton Brook Hut will be open for full service summer and fall. They claim its due to lack of staff. They have had a lot of turnover in the permanent staff including the directors for several years. I could speculate that the revenue from operations without injection of work in progress funding for building new huts could just be keeping them on shoestring budget.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Essex Co., Mass.
    Posts
    129
    What do you mean by WIP funding ? Who would that be coming from? Also please remind me....is the organization running that government , non profit , or private?
    Steve H.
    NH4000 1976-1984
    NE4000 1984-1991

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gorham NH
    Posts
    5,896
    WIP Work In Progress. MHT is an independent non profit. One of the problems with non profits is everyone wants to to donate money to build things but rarely on going maintenance support. Generally the costs charged to guests cover actual day to day expenses but rarely does it cover back office management or ongoing maintenance and repairs. One of the ways of balancing the budget is have capital campaigns where "stuff" is being built. Campaigns are built and people donate to build "stuff". Part of the budget for the capital campaigns for "stuff" is management. So as long as "stuff" is being built, the back office management costs can be charged towards capital work in progress. Unfortunately once the capital work is closed out there is nowhere to pay to run the management to keep the enterprise running. AMC has ongoing revenue from various sources to pay the management and worse case is they can sell their headquarters but a special purpose entity like MHT nowhere else to fall back on.

    The concept of MHT is if they build it, people will come. Their facilities are first rate but without a broader organization behind them it is probably difficult to feed guests into the system consistently. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point they merge with larger organization.

  4. #4
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    KoKo Head Direct About 1024 Steps one way
    Posts
    735
    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    WIP Work In Progress. MHT is an independent non profit. One of the problems with non profits is everyone wants to to donate money to build things but rarely on going maintenance support. Generally the costs charged to guests cover actual day to day expenses but rarely does it cover back office management or ongoing maintenance and repairs. One of the ways of balancing the budget is have capital campaigns where "stuff" is being built. Campaigns are built and people donate to build "stuff". Part of the budget for the capital campaigns for "stuff" is management. So as long as "stuff" is being built, the back office management costs can be charged towards capital work in progress. Unfortunately once the capital work is closed out there is nowhere to pay to run the management to keep the enterprise running. AMC has ongoing revenue from various sources to pay the management and worse case is they can sell their headquarters but a special purpose entity like MHT nowhere else to fall back on.

    The concept of MHT is if they build it, people will come. Their facilities are first rate but without a broader organization behind them it is probably difficult to feed guests into the system consistently. I wouldn't be surprised if at some point they merge with larger organization.
    Thanks Peakbagger, that is an interesting analysis.

    I'm curious about the huts they chose to close. Both serve as entry points to their system on the western and eastern ends of the chain. I would think those huts see the most traffic but maybe not for overnight use. Plus Stratton Brook might be too close to Poplar Stream and Flagstaff Lake might undermine usage at Grand Falls.

    I know the idea was end-to-end walking and mountain biking in the summer. But Like the AMC's Maine operations, maybe these huts are just too far away from population centers to draw sustaining use.
    Nobody told me there'd be days like these
    Strange days indeed -- most peculiar, mama
    .

  5. #5
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Center Conway, NH
    Posts
    2,449
    So much for build it and they will come.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gorham NH
    Posts
    5,896
    Reportedly MHT and AMC are both in this mode. The former chairman of LL Beans was a big contributor to both systems. MHT is somewhat closer to the target users in Mass than AMC but its a long haul to either one once someone turns off the interstate. Definitely not a weekend trip and either real has gotten on the list of destination trips. MHT actually toured hut to hut systems all over the world and made sure to incorporate the best practices, unfortunately they have not been allowed on the Bigelow Preserve and had to route around on private and native land so the majority of the route is in the woods. Nice for flat and level skiing but not so good for views.

    Both systems have gotten a share of national media attention but it peaked once the systems were "finished". AMC can plug their system through their magazines to their membership but MHT does not have that option.

  7. #7
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Center Conway, NH
    Posts
    2,449
    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Reportedly MHT and AMC are both in this mode. The former chairman of LL Beans was a big contributor to both systems. MHT is somewhat closer to the target users in Mass than AMC but its a long haul to either one once someone turns off the interstate. Definitely not a weekend trip and either real has gotten on the list of destination trips. MHT actually toured hut to hut systems all over the world and made sure to incorporate the best practices, unfortunately they have not been allowed on the Bigelow Preserve and had to route around on private and native land so the majority of the route is in the woods. Nice for flat and level skiing but not so good for views.

    Both systems have gotten a share of national media attention but it peaked once the systems were "finished". AMC can plug their system through their magazines to their membership but MHT does not have that option.
    Seems as if they may have gotten the cart out in front of the horse. If they are falling apart this early in the game it's not a good sign. The idea looks like it was hatched about 30 years ago but initial implementation I believe has been much more recent. The Master Plan calls for eight more Huts. Doubtful that happens. Unfortunately for them IMO the way their program is set up and the services they offer is focused on a narrow demographic. As everyone knows I am not a big fan of the AMC but I do think their more rustic approach or at least the perception there of is more appealing. The Maine Huts are just a little to buffed out. I do hope they find some leadership and find a way to market themselves better. I guess it could be worse. It could be some failed ski area festering in the woods on the side of the Bigelows.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Lewiston, and Biddeford Maine
    Posts
    634
    In the Winter, the huts are packed. I know they've been shrinking staff that last couple years, since Gorman died, at least. A bad year for LLBean profits may be tied to the hut closures, also. The volunteer coordinator put out a call for Volunteer care takers to man the two huts, to at least keep them open and warmed. It would be a good gig for someone retired.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Brambor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Windham, ME
    Posts
    1,048
    If I was retired I would have loved running Grand Falls Hut... but I'm not yet retired...so I wish them luck



    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    In the Winter, the huts are packed. I know they've been shrinking staff that last couple years, since Gorman died, at least. A bad year for LLBean profits may be tied to the hut closures, also. The volunteer coordinator put out a call for Volunteer care takers to man the two huts, to at least keep them open and warmed. It would be a good gig for someone retired.
    Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gorham NH
    Posts
    5,896
    News reports today indicate they will not be running the huts this winter unless they can raise 500K quickly

    Lots more detail

    https://www.sunjournal.com/2019/09/2...ing-fast-cash/

    Without a strong turnaround plan in place I expect it will be hard to attract large donors. It does appear to be case of continuing on their current approach is just going to dig them deeper in the hole.

  11. #11
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Center Conway, NH
    Posts
    2,449
    This is a very unfortunate situation. Interesting how quickly they have gone into the red on this venture. Having to suspend their marketing campaign is not going to help. At 4-5 million in assets could an AMC buy out be not far away?
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gorham NH
    Posts
    5,896
    It would depend on if they own the land under the huts. AMC reportedly only wants new capital assets that are on land they own. Given the investment in the 100 Mile Wilderness I don't see them going for this system as it dilutes the interest in the 100 MW which reportedly is paying their recreational development shortfall with endowment income and forestry operations. I think Flagstaff hut was surrounded or sits on Passamaquoddy tribal land formerly Dead River (https://www.deadriver.com/about-us/our-history) and possibly Poplar Hut. Not sure about Stratton Brook or Grand Falls? . The question is are the assets worth more in pieces or as a whole?. I could speculate that the Grand falls hut would be of interest to whitewater rafting firms. Flagstaff Hut is probably good as a standalone sporting type camp on Flagstaff or a rich persons "camp", Stratton Brook is probably best tied to Sugarloaf, high end ski lodge?. Unfortunately Poplar Hut would be an "orphan".

    The other big question is if there is any debt coming along for the ride?.

    As discussed its a marketing effort. If the right people with disposable income don't know about the experience they will choose other better marketed alternatives. MHT did have consistent PR early on but it definitely has tapered off in the last few years.

  13. #13
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Center Conway, NH
    Posts
    2,449
    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    It would depend on if they own the land under the huts. AMC reportedly only wants new capital assets that are on land they own. Given the investment in the 100 Mile Wilderness I don't see them going for this system as it dilutes the interest in the 100 MW which reportedly is paying their recreational development shortfall with endowment income and forestry operations. I think Flagstaff hut was surrounded or sits on Passamaquoddy tribal land formerly Dead River (https://www.deadriver.com/about-us/our-history) and possibly Poplar Hut. Not sure about Stratton Brook or Grand Falls? . The question is are the assets worth more in pieces or as a whole?. I could speculate that the Grand falls hut would be of interest to whitewater rafting firms. Flagstaff Hut is probably good as a standalone sporting type camp on Flagstaff or a rich persons "camp", Stratton Brook is probably best tied to Sugarloaf, high end ski lodge?. Unfortunately Poplar Hut would be an "orphan".

    The other big question is if there is any debt coming along for the ride?.

    As discussed its a marketing effort. If the right people with disposable income don't know about the experience they will choose other better marketed alternatives. MHT did have consistent PR early on but it definitely has tapered off in the last few years.
    Great info. Sounds spot on. Marketing wise all I have been getting is the occasional Email that I very rarely even open. I am not a big fan of tangible published marketing. But at least I looked at it when it showed up in the mail before it went in the recycling bin.
    Last edited by skiguy; 09-23-2019 at 03:29 PM.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Lewiston, and Biddeford Maine
    Posts
    634
    I believe all the huts are on leased land. Poplar Stream, I know, is leased from one of the tribes. The huts themselves are pretty valuable. Grand Falls gets a lot of traffic from snowmobiles in the Winter. The ski race was a big draw, but the last three years, was canceled, and then quit having it altogether.

    I really hope they bounce back. I have a lot of sweat equity in the non-profit.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gorham NH
    Posts
    5,896
    Looks like they will have 4 huts open for self service this winter with volunteer caretakers.

    https://www.pressherald.com/2019/11/...n-this-winter/

    Hopefully they will figure out a new business model, as at some point revenue has to match expenses.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •