You might say that Steve Helms was born “to it.” Born and raised in Meadows of Dan, home to boutique Primland, a luxury resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, Helms still resides on the family farm. After receiving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration with concentration in Management and Marketing, Steve began working at Primland, where became the Assistant Manager in 1993, was promoted to General Manager in 1998, and in 2005 became Vice President, Primland’s senior executive.
THE HELMS STORY —
There was no seminal or ‘aha’ moment that launched me into my work in luxury resort and hospitality management. I grew up in this area, know and love it, and my college training in business management and marketing coincided with Primland’s evolution from a Blue Ridge Mountains timber company, to an award-winning hospitality destination that provides regional economic impact.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Every day is an opportunity to advance the brand, better our product. We do so many things daily that is exciting and meaningful, there is never a period that lacks motivation. It’s a fast paced industry, and to be relevant, passion is a prerequisite!
Many golf facilities have had to make adjustments following the seismic impact from The Great Recession. What lessons did you learn from that time frame?
We were just getting started during that time frame so in many ways we didn’t know what to expect. It certainly taught us the importance of knowing your audience and what motivates them. It helped shape not only our rate structures but also our service standards.
What separates Primland from your competition?
The Primland property as a whole is such a unique parcel of land and topography. That rings true for the golf course as well. The design and conditioning of the course mixed with the surrounding views sets us apart.That is a short sentence but is says a lot. You have to be here to fully appreciate it.
How has the golf market evolved from the time you started at Primland to today?
Being here for many, many years before golf was even part of the equation, I must admit golf was not the priority. Although we have only been open since 2006, the golf world has certainly changed. Our golf experience overall is meant to be traditional. Even that word has evolved, in reference to golf. The biggest difference I see is the amount of great courses that our customers can play. For so many years, the best places to play were exclusive private clubs. That is no longer the case. The experience we try to provide and our beauty set us apart, but the competition is stiff. Never before have there been so many great public access courses.
Who is the customer that comes to Primland?
That is a great question. Something we ponder and discuss often Everyone is our customer. That probably seems like a very convenient answer but there is a lot of truth in it. We offer so many things from activities, lodging, special meals and/or events. In that we touch a lot of people, and we are proud of that!
Customer service is regularly touted by many facilities. Define the approach you follow at Primland.
Customer service is many different things and the understanding of its applications is what can set you apart Above all it has to be thoughtful, personalized, and consistent.
What have you learned about the different generations of golfers — Baby Boomers and Millennials and how each group views the game?
I think we all learn more and more regarding that subject each season. Obviously technology can make a difference not only during the round of golf but how it is advertised. I think what we have learned more than anything is that when the product and service is right, it transcends the generations.
You’ve got a bucket list place to play — where would it be and what three other people would you have join you for the round of a lifetime?
Wow there are so many! I will have to say Augusta National because of the history and exclusivity. Playing with me would be my two boys and Jay Haas. Jay has been an ambassador for Primland for years now, and I know he would provide stories and commentary that would only enhance the experience!
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
The ever increasing cost to maintain a golf course.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
The best I’ve received is from my father, who told me “you only live once; give it your all and live it to the fullest.”
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