After 42 years of building an immense real estate and time share company, with 7,000 employees and revenues of $1 billion, its owner is close to giving it all up and, in his words, “calling it a day.” David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, started his company out of his garage in the early 1970s and, working full time including weekends and holidays, slowly built the company into a powerhouse which, in 2007, just before the real estate crash, employed more than 12,000 people and served more than 3 million customers a year.
So well off was the company that it embarked on projects in Las Vegas and the construction of a private home for himself that was so large that it was featured in the film The Queen of Versailles that opened in theaters in July.
But the start of the Great Recession left Siegel and his company with nearly $1 billion in debt which forced him to give back the Las Vegas project to lenders and stop work altogether on his massive 90,000-square-foot home.
Business is better now, but Siegel is nervous about the election and what it means to his company if President Obama is reelected. So he decided to send an email to his employees warning them of what he might do if Obama does win in November. In a conversation with Robert Frank of CNBC Siegel said if Obama is reelected and ObamaCare remains in place, he might just let his 7,000 employees go and shut down the company: “The combination of ObamaCare and taxes [the coming “fiscal cliff”] would be a disaster. I would probably just call it a day and that would be a disaster.”
Before doing so, however, he decided to give his employees his thinking along with a lesson in entrepreneurial economics from the point of view of the entrepreneur. Here are relevant excerpts from his email:
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Photo: Sylvester Stallone, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, and David Siegel celebrate the topping-off of PH Towers Westgate in Las Vegas, 2008: AP Images