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Valley businesses adapt, survive to 100
Posted at 07:01 PM on Saturday, Jun. 04, 2011
Bethany Clough, Fresno Bee 

In the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, just staying alive is a challenge for small businesses. But some companies are not only surviving, they’re celebrating a milestone: 100 years in business. 

The Sunnyside Country Club hits the century mark this month and, like most companies its age, it has survived by adapting to a changing marketplace.
New to the club
The newest member of the 100-year club, Sunnyside Country Club, has adapted to some of its toughest challenges in recent years.


As families deal with pay cuts and layoffs, members have cut back on how often they play golf, with some dropping their membership altogether, said Steve Menchinella, general manager for 42 years.


To make up for the drop in revenue, the club has cut expenses and launched an effort to get new members.
They’ve laid off employees and shortened the hours the country club pool is open. Even the annual flowers in the gardens get replaced less often, Menchinella said.
The club lowered its upfront fees and created new, less-expensive types of memberships. Fees for social members — who use the pool, tennis courts and clubhouse but don’t golf — were slashed in half.
And they’ve pushed the country club, near Butler and Clovis avenues in Fresno, as a site for weddings and banquets. The increase in those events is helping sustain the business, he said.
The changes have brought in more members, but one thing remains the same, Menchinella said.
“Our No. 1 commodity is the golf course, and we’ve made very little cuts there,” he said.


The recent changes were difficult to swallow, compared to the easy ones made over the past 100 years.


They included going from nine holes to 18, and lengthening the space from the tee to the hole as athletic ability increased, along with technological advancements in golf clubs.
And even though Fresno’s population has steadily moved north since Sunnyside opened, members are still loyal to the club, he said.


“We have such rich traditions people still want to be associated with the oldest club” in the Valley.
►Read the full story here.
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