Big trouble in little Coronado.
We all, each of us, love a David vs. Goliath story. Little guy taking down the giant with moxie and a few smooth pebbles. Small crushing big. Though, in life, the hulk generally wins and the bantam is swept away. And let us travel to the island of Coronado, just off San Diego, to learn of a Goliath vs. David story that has a billionaires fist pumping and a sole proprietor surf school owner obliterated.
Teevan McManus, who has lived in Coronado for much of his life and runs the Coronado Surfing Academy. Much of his business comes from lessons through the iconic Hotel del Coronado but his contract has just been terminated and handed over to the Jamie O’Brien Surfing Experience.
Was McManus piloting a leaky ship? Making poor decisions? Losing much money?
“I would understand if we did a bad job, but we did everything that was asked,” McManus told The Coronado Times. “We doubled business without a lot of support. We were cranking. We were working nonstop seven days a week. We didn’t miss a beat. I was here 83 days in a row.”
Coronado Surfing Academy grew business by 86% as compared to the Del’s previous vendor, figured out how to make it all work though sewage spills and Covid and invested between $25,000 and $30,000 for new soft tops and wetsuits. It has a five-star rating on Yelp and hires local high schoolers as instructors.
Again, per The Coronado Times:
McManus says the decision to terminate the contract wasn’t made by the Hotel Del. He says the hotel staff has been “great” and has had nothing but praise for the Coronado Surf Academy. But his bosses at the Hotel del Coronado also have bosses.
He says that Blackstone, the New York-based private equity giant that owns the Del, ultimately made the decision to replace him with a non-local company out of Hawaii. McManus says it’s bad business.
“We kicked butt,” said McManus. “Now, they are going to replace us with a guy (Jamie O’Brien) who’s not even going to be here.”
Turns out, in addition to owning the Del, Blackstone also owns Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, which is home to pro-surfer Jamie O’Brien’s surf school brand, the Jamie O’Brien Surf Experience. McManus says that it’s because of this corporate relationship that the change was made. Jamie O’Brien has no ties to Coronado, and is only contracted to actually teach at the Del about six times a year, according to McManus.
“The thing is, these guys aren’t local,” said McManus. “I mean, if I tried to go to Hawaii and open up Teevan’s Snorkeling Tours, they would lose their minds.”
But you have certainly heard of Blackstone, no? The firm worth almost one trillion dollars that was recently involved in a child labour scandal?
I would love to have dear Jamie O’Brien close by, though, even if just six times a year.
But Blackstone really is the worst.