John Fetsick replaces longtime University Park General Manager Laurie Evans, who retires.
Longtime University Park General Manager Laurie Evans was talking about all the qualities possessed by John Fetsick, who succeeded her Aug. 1.
She called him a great communicator and a people person. She said he always is positive.
After running off some other qualities, she paused for a couple of seconds, and added with emphasis, "He's a good guy."
Evans, who joined University Park in 2001 and served in several capacities until she became general manager in 2007, said the "good guy" part is highly valued at University Park, a 1,200-home community established in 1991.
"Our club has a very special culture," Evans said. "Many of the employees have been here 20 years or more."
Then there is the relationship with the residents and club members, who become much more than clients.
Evans remembered back to a time during her 20 years at University Park when one of the residents had fallen while "plant sitting" at a neighbor's residence and couldn't get up. The woman's daughter called Evans in a panic, saying the ambulance was taking too long to arrive. She wanted to know if Evans could go stay with her.
Evans ran out the door.
"That was an incredibly personal moment, where you achieve that kind of intimacy," Evans said. "That's what makes University Park special. They would reach out to me personally to help out."
Evans said from the time Fetsick was hired in August 2020 to be University Park's director of finance, she could see he could fill that role.
"You are uplifted whenever you spend time with John," she said.
Before coming to University Park in 2020, Fetsick spent the previous 15 years working for the Philadelphia Phillies. When he left, he was director of finance. He said he was grateful, excited and appreciative for the opportunity to lead University Park.
"I am anxious in a good way," he said.
After his time with the Phillies, he said he wanted a change in his career, but he didn't want to "go into some corporate building." He had always loved Florida when visiting and saw the University Park opening. He said professional sports and the hospitality industries share a lot in common, such as capital improvements to enhance the product.
He will continue to guide University Park Country Club (you don't need to be a resident to join the club) through a renovation program that all together will reach approximately $5 million in improvements. A $2 million renovation of dining facilities (the Lakeside Room, the Park Grille and the Outdoor Cafe) is taking place, The club is adding four new pickleball courts with a potential for four more. A new croquet pitch is being added.
A $1.5 million renovation of the golf course is ongoing as well.
"Our responsibility is member satisfaction," Fetsick said. "We are always enhancing the amenities. Taking our country club to the next level is important."
Fetsick, who is 37, and wife K.C., have three children in Makayla, 3; Brielle, 6; and John, 5.
He said Evans allowed him to grow into the general manager position.
"From Day 1, Laurie has welcomed me and given me the flexibility to be who I am," he said. "She encouraged me to flourish and put me in position to get this job."
Evans said her desire to do more traveling, such as a trip she hopes to take to Africa, made it the right time to retire.
"I will miss the members and residents," she said.
For most of her time at University Park, she worked for developers John and Pat Neal and Charles Varah, who represented the Rolf Pasold family ownership. Now she answers to a five-person University Park Recreation District board of supervisors and the seven-person Community Association board of directors.
The University Park Recreation District, a governmental body created in August 2018, was formed to purchase and operate the University Park Country Club and community amenities. It issued $24 million in bonds to buy the 266-acre golf course and club, ponds within the community and an additional 100 acres of conservation area and other land from the community’s developers.
Fetsick said he will love the challenge of moving University Park forward.
"When I come through the gates here, there is a beauty, a calm," he said. "You see members walking and riding their bikes. It's a little sanctuary."
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