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

  1. #1
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    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.

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    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.
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    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.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    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.
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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    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

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    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
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    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

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    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.

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    Senior Member Brambor's Avatar
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    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.

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