Interview: Vincent Masotta Wallingford Country Club

Multiple Damage To Country Club
(Clubs Main Income On The Line)

Introduction (who I am):
My name is Vin Masotta, I'm an agent at H. Pearce Real Estate Company and I was actually President of Wallingford Country Club at that time. And that storm blew in an out of here in probably 10 minutes.

Well, I met John under not great circumstances.
There was a microburst, if you remember in Wallingford about three years ago.

I think the recommendation, he came from our member. I know this member has been a long-time member of the club. He just basically said to me, “I’ve used this guy before. He’ll take care of you.” OK? And then when I met John, his personality. He wasn’t this macho guy, you know?

He wasn’t the king I’m going to save everybody. He just said, “Relax. This is what I do. We’ll get this done.” And you know the one thing I did tell him is “John, I don’t want to see your bill with these guys working around here.

I mean six, eight months later; we got the whole case resolved. And everybody that worked that weekend was paid directly by the insurance company. Nothing came through us. It was unbelievable.

John is my man. I love that guy. I really do.Mr. Vincent Masotta

I can certainly talk about John all day.  You know, I just love the guy, I really do.
His confidence level is you have no idea.

I mean your President of the club.

You have your premier eve coming that’s your biggest money-maker for the year.
You have members that are bringing guests here from out of town.

It was scary. I’ve been here well, ’71. I’ve been at the club for 24 years and it’s the first time. I’ve lived in Wallingford for 42 years, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this.

Downtown here, we’re four blocks away from the club and nothing. Everything was fine here. It’s like this storm came through, hit, burst out across the course, and hit the surrounding streets and left, 10-15 minutes, gone.

And you have no golf course and you have no clubhouse. All because of this silly ass storm for 10 minutes.

And you’re sitting on there and you got board members telling me this, this got to go. What are you going to do here?

We’ve had tornadoes hit once many, many years ago in Hampton then that went down one street, it took out all the trees on both sides but I’ve never seen anything like this before. Nothing and we watched it come in, I wasn’t here. I was at another club.

And we’re supposed to be playing and we’re outside and we’re looking at this cloud coming in and we got sunny skies just like you have today and here comes this big bad cloud down there and I’m saying, “I’m not looking or I do not like the looks of that thing.” But we thought it was a rain storm, a thunder storm.

So I went and grabbed my clubs, put got under the overhang and sat there and watched it come through. Rain, rain, rain, rain and windy and then oh, what the heck is this thing?

I’ve never seen anything like it.

And then within 10 minutes, 15 minutes sun is back up and then the phone rang.

And they said, “You better get over here right away.”

I said, “You got to be kidding me. I’m at the other side of town playing golf.” “No, you better get here.” In fact the course I was at shut down. They didn’t get hit with the building.

But they shut down the course because they had so much debris on the course which is in the same town, its right around the corner.

So, yeah, it was scary.

When I saw the damage, it was bad. But the next morning was 10 times worse when they called at 6:00 in the morning and said, “You better get here, the building is flooded.” I said, “You got to be kidding me.” I called our insurance guy that Wednesday morning.

I said “John, we have a bigger problem.” He said, “What’s that?” “The building is flooded.” “You got to be kidding me.” “John I don’t kid. I don’t kid. Better get over here.” Then he did

And you know I spent 37 years in a corporate world as a project manager so I’m pretty good at organizing projects and getting them done

This was so far out of my ballgame, in fact I had, I turned around to one board member who said you know, “Well, you can’t do that.”

And I said, “Tell you what? You want to take control of the building and I’ll take control of it all?”

“No, no, no, I can’t do that.”

Then I’m making this decision.

And it was a split decision. It was made probably around 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon. And if I had not pulled the trigger at 3:30 and if I have waited 24 hours, we didn’t have made it, never made it.

If I had to think about that, would have never made it. It was a decision I made and John just something said to me, go with this guy. I mean you’re talking a 15-minutes conversation and I handed him over the whole club.

So it was just his personality, his way of not panicking, his way of saying, “We’re going to be good. We’re going to take care of this.  We’re going to have that dinner. You’re going to have your golf course.” And I’m sitting there saying, “Hey, you must be god or somebody because I don’t see it.” And I didn’t see it.

I still didn’t see it until Thursday when I saw it all starting to come together on Thursday afternoon. I said, “You’re going to be out of here by noon time?” “We’ll be out of here by noon time and your ceiling will be fixed. And you’ll be cooking in the kitchen and we’ll get to get the tables all set up in the other room.”

It was amazing.

It was unbelievable.

Q -  How did it happen?

In 10 minutes that storm did $1.5 Million worth of damage to our club.

It was sort of a building type of thing. I got a phone call around 6:30 on a Tuesday night. And I was not at the club and told me that storm had come through and destroyed the course.

We had a ton of trees down on the course, over the fairways and mind you that was the Tuesday of our gala event, which is our Three-day Member-Guest Tournament.

It’s the biggest money-maker we have for the club. It’s a dinner on Thursday night then you have golf Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then a big finale on Sunday afternoon. So it’s a big deal at the club and this was the Tuesday before.

So they called me. I went down there. I grabbed the Superintendent of Greens and we went on the course to look and we just said, “You know what? Let’s go home. Sleep on it. We’ll meet here at 7:00 tomorrow morning. And we’ll assess the damage, OK?” And we all went home. Power was out. I mean it wiped out the whole area.

Yeah, it doesn’t develop to twister.
It’s just a big cloud that comes down, hits the ground and just bursts

I’ve never seen one before. It made the news let me tell you. So, the fun continues. At 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday morning, I got a phone call from the General Manager that the building is flooded.

OK? Now, why? Who knows? But I said to him, “You got to be kidding me?” And he goes, “No.” And I jumped in the car and flew down here and the building was flooded.

What happened is the sprinkler system let go

They built somehow or the pipe blew in the kitchen area and just flooded the whole place.

So, I skipped the part.

On Tuesday night, they also called our insurance adjuster, John Caldarella. So, John came out, we looked the situation on Tuesday night and he says, “OK, will see you tomorrow morning.”

Well, at 7:00 on Wednesday morning, I picked up the phone and I said...

“John, we got bigger problems.”
He goes, “What’s that?”

I said, “The building is flooded.”
He says, “You’re kidding.”

And I said, “No.”

So, we have a gentleman at our club that runs a cleaning business. He got his crew in there and started putting blowers in there to clean it up. And I’m saying, “You know what? This is Wednesday tomorrow night we’re serving 140 people, dinner. It can’t be done.” I came this close to cancelling the event because it was a mess.

I was out on the course and another member says to me, “If you want, call this guy.
He’ll be able to help you.” OK?
It was John.

So I did. I’ve never met John before in my life. John said to me, “I’ll meet you in the course at 2:00.” I came down to the course at 2:00, walked him through the entire course, and brought him inside the building. And he said, “We got issues here.” And I had to make a split decision. I pulled everybody out and gave the whole thing to John.

I grabbed a couple of my board members at that time and I said, “Look, I don’t have the knowledge. I don’t have the experience to start coordinating cleaners, painters, carpenters, chainsaws, or your tree people. I don’t have that, OK?” So, I said “I need one person that I can give sole responsibility to make this thing happen, OK?” That I believe it was going to happen? No, I didn’t but I would have bet a million dollars we were never going to have that dinner. I contacted to John and John said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ve got you covered. “OK? Well John had me covered. He saved us, he saved the life of the club.

He brought in Servpro.  He brought in another company he had everybody there.

He had what we had our cleaning people and no disrespect intended to them because they were awesome, OK? But when you bring in a crew of 15-20 people they got big generators running the back, they had cables going all over the place.

They got blowers everywhere. And believe it or not, that started around 2:30, 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon.

They were around the clock.

  • I told them they had to be out of there by noontime on Thursday so we can prepare dinner.
  • Now, mind you, the kitchen was gone.
  • Ceiling had come down.
  • There’s a pipe burst up in the ceiling.

These guys came in, cleaned up the mess, and re-did the ceiling, temporary, OK. The amazing part about it is somehow rather the Health Department found out about it.

Oh no.

Health Department showed up at around 4:30, at 5:00 on Thursday.
Walked in and said, “I heard you guys had a flood here.”

I said, “Oh, we got some water come down but you know, we’re blowing it, keeping it up.” And he went through the kitchen, past the kitchen. OK?

If he had gone in there 12 hours earlier, he would have put a padlock on the building.

I can’t say enough about it. It was simply amazing.

At the same time, we had our crew doing the golf course. And I told John, just focus on the building because that’s what I need.

I need that building ready on Thursday.

I need 125 or 140 people having dinner Thursday night and then we got to have food for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

And it really came down to John putting a crew in there, who worked around the clock. He pulled them out at 12:00 Thursday. We had dinner. Dinner was over by 9:00 because we had no power in the building. So we had to get everybody out before it got dark because the town was still without power there.

We left at 9:00; John’s crew came back in at 9:00 on Thursday and worked around the clock until 8:00 the next morning.

Pulled them back out again, did the cooking they had to do. We’re in and out. I mean we’re in and out the whole week and saved our butt.

I mean Thursday night, I addressed the membership at this dinner and it was just unbelievable that you could look out there and see 140 people in an audience that you knew the building was flooded the day before.

So, there had to be, I don’t know how many people are out there because I was running between the building and the golf course. It was phenomenal. All I could say that guy’s number is in my phone and I don’t care what happens he’s getting the first phone call.

I mean he’s just phenomenal. And the best part was,

  • “Keep calm.
  • Relax, we got this.
  • Don’t worry about it.”

I’m like, I’ll let you know. He built the confidence and he was there.

I called up; he answered the phone I don’t care what time of day or night it was.

He was there.

He gave me moral support that I needed and I didn’t believe it until dinner was actually being served. I don’t know how we did this.

What did John do?

He took care of everything. The first thing he did was come in, grab our insurance policy.

We sat down. He went through it. He took care of it all. He had blueprints made up, sketches of all the trees on the course that were damaged. And you know I’m thinking, the course, we had members, raking the fairways on Wednesday and Thursday morning just to try and get this thing to go off.

And you’re bringing the Three-day Member-Guest at our club is our gala event. We have members that bring guests in from other states. So, they’re flying in on Monday and Tuesday.

They don’t know that there’s going to be a storm Tuesday night and the course is going to get shut down.

So it would have cost a lot of people a lot of money and we would have lost a lot of revenue if we had to shut that thing down.

He saved not only the day.

The following week, the Three-day Member-Guest was Monday, Tuesday excuse me, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

After Sunday, his crews were back in there again, Sunday night. We had to pull them back out again Monday at noon time because on Monday, I think it was Monday or Tuesday, we had the Wounded Warrior Tournament which was another 144 players that came in and had dinner and lunch.

And so, he was phenomenal saying, “You tell me when you need them out of the building and I’ll get them out of the building.” OK?

But I think the most amazing part is we had no power in that building for four or five days, didn’t bother them.

They brought in their own generators and they started running generators and running through windows and it was phenomenal. It was unbelievable this guy did. He saved me.

He saved me because if it wasn’t for John coming that Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday night, Wednesday afternoon, and I probably would have pulled the plug on the tournament. Because I’m sitting there saying, “There’s just no way we can open this kitchen up and have it legal.”

And the best part was somebody leaked it, we don’t know who,
somebody leaked it and the Health Inspector
showed up on Thursday afternoon and he was like,

“Wow, I thought you guys were flooded?”

“Well, we had some water damage.” But the kitchen ceiling, I mean the ceiling have fallen where the pipe broke. They cut it, cleaned that all out, edged it, put up some sheetrock, taped it and started cooking. It was amazing.

I mean you knew there was, you knew that there was a problem.

You know, because base boards were removed, Sheetrock was cut up; blowers were right in front of it. We clicked removed all the blowers but we got the ones out there that were in the way. In the locker rooms the water came all the way down to the basement.  Yeah, it was bad. It was bad

I would not only recommend John. You’re dumb if you don’t take John. I mean this is like, he is unbelievable. And he had another catastrophe at the same time, right after that.

I don’t know anything about it but it was some church down south that had a big fire. So he’s juggling ours and he’s juggling them of course me,

“I could care less about the fire John, this is my baby.” OK.

And it was amazing. I mean the whole relaxed, it’s like he does this every day. It’s like I’m having you know conniptions here and I’m having a coronary and he said, “Relax, don’t worry. We’ll take care of this.” “And you got to have dinner Thursday?”  “Yeah, for 144 people.” “Not a problem. We’ll take care of it. It was just unbelievable.

He did the job. Did it 150%.

And when he said he was going to do something, he got it done. And even after, the clean-up. Even after going through the insurance deals you know because it took like six months, six, eight months to settle up with the insurance company.

And even with them there were no questions at all from the insurance company. In fact, the insurance company came in and inspected it, not John’s work but inspected some of the damage. And they said, “No question, it was a busted pipe” They said, “No question at all.” So they walked out and they were happy.

John gave them everything they needed.

There was documentation, unbelievable documentation. I mean you want to talk about blueprints, I see blueprints of a building that weren’t this complicated. They’re just the blueprint of the golf course that John and his crew put together for every tree that had damage on it.

Every tree. And there are a lot of trees on the golf course, and amazing, thank God, the storm that came in, not one green was damaged which was to our benefit because that’s where really money can go into. But you know they fell across fairways, they fell across tee boxes but not one piece of a green was touched.

During that three days, they got them off the fairways, they pushed them into the, you know they got them off the fairway into the rough areas, into the woods area. And then once that was done and the Wounded Warrior Tournament is done, we probably spent the next three to four months cleaning up.

You always saw a truck there with a chipper and some chainsaws going and so. It was a lot. Yeah, I can’t remember the number but I want to say it was probably over 350 trees that were damaged. Damaged and torn down.

John Giordano took care of everything.Mr. Vincent Masotta

Anything else you would like to share with me that I haven’t asked?

I have called him up, “John, when you’re near here, we’re going to have breakfast, we’re going to have lunch.” Ah, I’ll never lose the relationship with that guy.

You know, he’s always got to be in my back pocket.

I mean I’ve given his name to other people. Even small stuff, house, you know if you got problem in your house, call John. John will take care of you. But in the end, what’s amazing is his comfort level. He’s like, that’s what he loves to do.

So he’s very comfortable. And when I think I’m having you know I’m going to get on their trainers, skip town because if I had to shut that tournament down, it would have been a financial nightmare to the club.

I’m happy with him.

I’m happy how everything turned out.

I can’t talk enough about the guy.

I said to him, when you, once you get out of that we’ll get together. Unlike any other contractors, I stay in contact with John.

His crew is phenomenal. And you know what? Being in this business, you make a phone call and they call you back. They gave me their cell numbers. Just to make sure that I was comfortable.

and the big part is there’s a lot of people involved. You got cleaners, you got painters, you got move higher metal team, you have construction guy.

You got electricians. They had to be there, electrician come in there because they had a wire to generate your star panels. It was like, wow! We have freezers that were out and he had electricians come in. He got our freezers up and running and offers his generators.

I mean how do you say thank you to that guy? You know?

John is my man.

I love that guy.

I really do.

Yeah, it was scary. It was scary. And that was a split minute I made but it was the smartest decision I ever made. I had members come up to me and say to me, it was wrong in getting not John but it was wrong in getting a public adjuster. During that event, we could have done this.

When it was all done, they said to me,

“You made the smartest decision ever because it would have never come together trying to do it ourselves. It would have never come together.”

I got connections but I got nowhere near the amount of people that were needed to pull this whole thing off.

I mean, Tuesday, the storm. Sometime Tuesday night I think it was 1:00 in the morning was the flood. So Wednesday morning at 6:00 we were walking around the flooded building and Thursday at noon time, you’re serving getting your start and cook dinner for 144 people Thursday night. How do you do it? And you can’t make that stuff up.

You can’t make it up. It’s like wow!

This guy, you know he can look at you and you didn’t meet him before and he just gives you that peace, relax, we got this. I said, “How can you have this?” “I got this, relax.”

And he did. He did. He did with time to spare. I mean I could not believe we served the 144 people on Thursday night at 6:00. I just couldn’t believe it but we did. Had to get them out of here by 8:30, quarter to 9:00 because it was getting dark and there was no power other than his generators. You know they walked out and in come his crew and you know, I said to him, “John you can’t get in here before midnight.” Midnight I mean they were there.

To me, it was a miracle. It was a miracle to me

No, not only does john do a great job, he’s not like you can’t find them after. You know a lot of contractors disappear.

Not John. John never disappears. He’ll call you every once a while just to see how you’re doing. You know forget the business, forget that, he’ll chat, “How are you doing? Is everything all right? How’s the club? How’s the club doing?” That’s the way he is.

Everybody respects the guy.

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