Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point Citizen of the Year: Bob Spizzo cited for community dedication
The Echo – Pineandlakes.com
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
By Nancy Vogt
Bob Spizzo, owner of Whitebirch, Inc. which owns Breezy Point Resort, held his 2008 Citizen of the Year Plaque
Bob Spizzo learned the value of hard work while growing up in Chicago.
“We grew up with a very strong work ethic,” Spizzo said. “We knew we had to work. We never relied on anyone giving us anything. If we didn’t work, we didn’t eat.”
That work ethic eventually led Spizzo to the top position at Breezy Point Resort. He owns Whitebirch Inc., the parent company of the resort and other subsidiaries.
For his contributions to the resort and the community, Spizzo was named the 2008 Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point Citizen of the Year last week.
“I’m surprised and honored,” Spizzo said after receiving the award, sponsored by Echo Publishing & Printing, on Friday, Dec. 26, in the lobby of Breezy Point Resort.
He credited a dedicated staff for the resort’s successes. “I just come up with ideas, and they carry through,” he said.
James Arrigoni of Browerville, a former Breezy Point resident and Breezy Point Resort employee, nominated Spizzo for the award, saying it was long overdue.
The nomination listed the following achievements and contributions in 2008 by Spizzo and Breezy Point Resort:
Hosted 2008 Governor’s Fishing Opener.
Hosted many special meetings and golf tournaments.
Hosted grand opening of Marina II restaurant and Dockside.
Hosted thousands of people at timeshare units and resort rooms.
Past achievements and contributions to the community included building and opening Antler’s Restaurant, constructing an 18-hole golf course, opening Breezy Point Arena, building and selling thousands of timeshare units that bring thousands of families to the area, employing 400-plus people at the resort, including exchange students, and hosting Ice Fest.
The nomination said Spizzo and other top managers are active community volunteers.
“You can say Bob has been a builder,” said Dave Gravdahl, resort general manager who has worked with Spizzo for 30 years. “What’s been built is going to be here a long time.”
“He really started timesharing in Minnesota, which has built one heck of a tax base for Breezy Point and Pequot Lakes School,” Gravdahl said.
“And, of course, he’s been a friend, too,” he said.
Bonnie Tweed, director of marketing and group services at Breezy Point Resort, said, “I always tell him (Spizzo), ‘You’ve got the best years of my life.’ And he always says, ‘No, the best are yet to come.’ I’ve been here for over 25 years, so I laugh about that.
“He’s very genuine, and he’s very open and a good communicator,” Tweed said. “He loves brainstorming, and I hope he never retires.”
Retirement doesn’t appear to be part of the plan yet. Spizzo is at the resort seven days a week, and the next project on a longstanding master plan is an “active adult housing” project west of Antler’s Restaurant. The project will feature maintenance-free living.
Spizzo delved into hotel ownership and property development in Colorado, as well as in Mexico, where he helped form the concept of timeshares.
He and his wife, Kay, came to Breezy Point in 1977 for what was supposed to be a three-year commitment with Whitebirch. That company bought Breezy Point Resort in 1981. The Spizzos stayed, and their three children – Thomas, Marisa and David – graduated from Pequot Lakes High School. David is assistant general manager at Breezy Point Resort.
“We’ve had good years and we’ve had bad years, just like any resort,” Spizzo said. “We’ve been so successful in attracting loyal and dedicated staff.”
He cites Gravdahl, Tweed and Joyce Bzoskie as examples, adding that the average length of employment for management and staff at the resort is more than 20 years.
Besides being proud of his staff, Spizzo is proud of expanding the timeshare ownership base to 12,000 and maintaining employment for 400 people locally.
Whitefish RV and camping Resort includes 750 deeded campsites. “That’s basically a village within a village,” Spizzo said.
Despite the economy, Spizzo said, “We’re optimistic for Breezy Point in the not-too-distant future because we have so much to offer.
“We came here originally for three years, and here we are 30 years later and we’re still here,” Spizzo said. “And I’m glad I stayed.”