D.M. Williams has never had to prepare a résumé.
He got his job as general manager of Casa del Mar back in 1981, after Rosie Turner, a former waitress at his Midland, Texas, restaurant who became a local condominium expert, recommended him, and he has been there ever since.
But Williams, 81, recently notified Casa del Mar’s board and unit owners that he is sending out his résumé and looking for references. He made his decision after the 102-unit resort’s board notified him in June that it would extend his contract for one more year but would not renew it upon its Sept. 30, 2013, expiration.
“For anyone who is interested in an 80-year-old with a lot of experience, I’ll be available Oct. 1 (2013),” Williams said.
Williams said he was “shocked” when two board members back in June prior to a board meeting told him that his contract would be renewed for just one more year; he said he wasn’t given any reason for the decision. He believes he is facing age discrimination.
But the board’s president, John Zefeldt, vehemently disagrees with Williams’ statements, saying that the board has had discussions about succession for Williams for years.
“Nobody has more respect for the job he’s done,” Zefeldt said. “That’s why we gave him another one-year contract, so that he could get his affairs in order. If you didn’t like the person, most companies would say ‘goodbye’ tomorrow.” Zefeldt also told the Longboat Observer Williams received an increase in salary and a bonus in the one-year contract.
According to Zefeldt, the resort’s assistant manager, Mark Meador, has been in his role for 27 years and is ready to move into the role of general manager. The board hasn’t formally offered Meador the job but plans to do so in the next year.
“If you were to make a change when things are not going well, then everyone would think that was the reason you had made a change,” Zefeldt said. “If you make the change while things are going well, the new manager could come into the situation and the old manager could go out on top of his game.”
Williams, however, denies that any substantive discussions of succession had occurred. He said that he hoped to stay on another two to four years as general manager and then possibly transition into a role such as handling public relations or serving as an ambassador.
Now, he said, he is planning to stay on through the remainder of his contract, unless dismissed sooner — which he told the Longboat Observer Friday evening could happen, depending on the nature of this story. If he hasn’t been hired when his employment ends, he plans to apply for unemployment benefits.
Williams said the issue isn’t about money and that he wants to keep working. He knows that job opportunities for an 81-year-old may be limited.
Then again, his résumé is more colorful than most.
It includes performances in the Cripple Creek Cloggers dance troupe, serving as a wedding and vow officiator, poetry recitations and growing the world’s largest cotton plant. It also includes a host of awards for his management and philanthropic efforts, including the former Sarasota Keys “Citizen of the Year” title and a five-year beautification award from the Longboat Key Garden Club.
Williams said that he used to have many of those awards hanging on the walls of his office. But since June, he has packed them up and moved them to his house in Bradenton.
“I’ve lost all my enthusiasm,” he said.
Casa del Mar General Manager D.M. Williams sent the following letter to unit owners Sept. 28:
To all owners at Casa del Mar:
As I prepare to begin my final year as manager here at Casa del Mar beginning Monday Oct. 1, 2012, and ending Monday Sept. 30, 2013, I feel that it is necessary to start submitting my résumé to all condominiums that would be interested in employing someone of my age and experience.
Since I have worked for over 30-plus years on Longboat Key, that would be my first choice of locations.
However, I am open to traveling. I have been asked by a couple of local businesses for my résumé along with as many references as I can provide.
This would not only be personal references from the board members but also owners and vendors that I have worked with during these past years.
Your co-operation and response to this request will be most appreciated.
However, they do realize that I cannot start before Oct. 1, 2013.
“Lest Ye Forget”