Hyams marketing team leaving Ormsby House

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The pending departure of Ormsby House marketing director Mike Hyams is just part of the hotel/casino's recovery, Hyams said Thursday.

"My whole job description was terminal from the very first day," Hyams said. "The idea was once we got a buyer for me to train my replacement.

"Bob (Cashell, the Ormsby House general manager) and I worked this out when the bankruptcy auction was going on. We knew whoever bought the OH would have to develop a marketing plan to carry it through the next decade."

Hyams said he will still be affiliated with Cashell Enterprises, which was brought in to operate the hotel during foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings. When Al Fiegehen and Don Lehr, partners in the Cubix Corp. computer manufacturing firm, bought the Ormsby House last fall, Cashell Enterprises was contracted to continue its duties while Fiegehen and Lehr applied for gaming licenses.

"That's what Bob's company does - come into a troubled company to turn it around," Hyams said. "It will be about a year before Al and Don are licensed."

He said Cashell will remain at Ormsby House until then, even though Cashell is also considering an election bid for Washoe County commissioner.

"Bob's agreement is that Cashell Enterprises will operate the OH until the new owners can obtain their licenses," Hyams said.

He pointed out that Cashell had operated his own gaming businesses, including Boomtown west of Reno and three casinos in Winnemucca, while also serving as a state university regent, then as Nevada's lieutenant governor, in the 1980s.

Hyams said the new owners and Cashell are still evaluating whether the Ormsby House will staff an in-house marketing and sales department or contract for those the functions. Whatever the decision, Hyams will be involved in the transition to the new marketing team.

Hyams' marketing efforts at the Ormsby House have been supported by his wife, Jeannette, as marketing manager, and by Lorie Hebler. Both also are leaving and will work at New Century Entertainment Group, Hyams' own company that is demanding more of his attention.

"We've got the contract to do the Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore, which will be televised nationally," Hyams said. "We're also developing more haunted attractions and have other contracts around the country. These special events don't have anything to do with the casino business, yet they pull me away and demand more of my time."

Hyams' New Century business produced the Haunted House of Horror the past two Halloween seasons at the Ormsby House, raising tens of thousands of dollars for area nonprofit organizations. New Century operated another haunted attraction, Frightmares, at the Reno Hilton last fall.

"This is what I did before I became associated with Cashell. I came out of Madison Avenue. I've run special events like camel races, sand rail races, fireworks and money drops to promote casinos' bottom lines," he said.

New Century's promotions are extensions of the corporate sponsorship concept.

"A corporate client used to just put a name on a banner behind the bandstand and hope you'd remember the name. Now the corporations are putting their stamp on the whole event, trying to give people a warm and fuzzy feeling so when they make a buying choice they remember who paid for the fireworks or the concert," he explained. "They call it 'equity partnerships.' "

The new owners' evaluation of marketing directions will also include just how to participate in the community, Hyams said. The Ormsby House has helped a number of local organizations by donating the use of facilities and food or supplies for benefit dances, banquets and similar activities.

Hyams said he cannot speak for what Fiegehen and Lehr will decide, but he believes such support will continue.

"It is good for business and has been good for business to do these charitable and fund raising events," he said. "These events have helped to improve the bottom line, by building repeat business. People in the community choose to come to the OH again because of these events, so they have direct impact even if they don't make any money themselves.

"Then there's the impact on the community - what these groups then do with the money they earn, how they help others out in the community.

"We've already booked the Brewery Art Center's beer tasting for next year and have the Kiwanis luau coming up this weekend."

Hyams said that, though his New Century business office is in Reno, he will continue to be a part of the Carson community, including serving as a director of the new Capitol City Humane Society and helping arrange the state Republican Party convention in April.


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