On the shores of crystal-clear Pelican Lake sits a Minnesota treasure. For 100 years, Breezy Point Resort has attracted Minnesotans and people from all across the U.S. and Canada - and around the world - to the Minnesota lakes area. For more than 40 of those years, Bob Spizzo has owned and guided the innovative expansion of the resort, the flagship entity of his Whitebirch, Inc. business. And for the past 14 years, Bremer Bank has had the good fortune to work with Spizzo and his team as a banking partner.
Breezy Point is home to three 18-hole golf courses, four restaurants, an ice arena, condominiums, timeshares, tennis courts, two swimming pools, two campgrounds – and an outpatient health clinic and pharmacy just a mile away. This array of assets makes Breezy Point a year-round destination, with hockey and figure skating camps and tournaments drawing visitors in droves even during the coldest months of winter.
At age 80, Bob, as CEO, remains active in all facets of resort operations. And he shows no signs of slowing down. “It’s not work for me because every day is a new challenge,” he said. “Nothing is boring around here, and we’re always making plans for the future. The best years are ahead of us.”
More than four decades ago, when Bob and his wife, Mary Kay, were living in Mexico as property developers, Mary Kay suggested they explore a move to the U.S. to raise their family. The Spizzos found their way to Minnesota. “We wondered for the first few years why people would want to live in this frigid place,” Bob said. “But in the end, it was the people – neighbors who became friends – who kept us here at Breezy Point.”
The Spizzos applied their real-world Mexico experience to their reinvention of Breezy Point, adding the first timeshare properties in Minnesota, introducing deeded campsites to the region, and eventually buying an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course. Yet with all his accomplishments, Bob is most proud of his relationship with employees, past and present.
“We’re currently hiring a third generation of employees – the grandchildren of employees I had back in the ‘80s,” Spizzo said. And three generations of Spizzos currently work at the resort, including David Spizzo, Bob’s son, and several grandchildren.
David, now vice president, has been working at the resort for 30 years. At age 10, his first job was picking rocks to ready the ground for the creation of the Whitebirch Golf Course. He’s also worked in housekeeping, restaurants, the corporate office, and has driven the Zamboni at the hockey rink (“not very well” according to him).
The Spizzos are actively involved as owners, and Breezy Point’s leadership philosophy is a point of pride. “We don’t ask anyone to do anything we ourselves wouldn’t do,” David explained. Both Spizzos have been known to make beds and help people find their way around the resort. They firmly believe that success boils down to having good employees, and they intentionally surround themselves with smart people. The average length of tenure on the managerial staff is 20+ years.
To run the resort during peak season requires 500 full-time and seasonal employees. “It’s a tough labor market right now, regionally and nationally,” David said. “We have the busiest summer we’ve ever anticipated heading our way, and we need people working on-site. Our business is not a work-from-home profession.”
The Spizzos are especially excited for summer 2021 as they will be celebrating two milestones. First, they’ll honor the resort’s 100th year with special fireworks shows, additional musical performances, a dinner show gala, a mini museum of historical artifacts and more. In addition, the resort is entering the final stage of new townhome sales on the Whitebirch Golf Course, with fewer than 20 one-level units remaining.
The Spizzos’ belief in the power of good employees spills over into their external relationships as well. “I don’t know how Bremer does it, but they hire really wonderful people,” David shared when reflecting on the relationship. “At the end of the day, money is money. It’s all about working with a banker who is going to be in your corner, learning your business and being proactive on your behalf.”
Bremer banker Dan Yantes says several factors make the relationship work, including mutual respect. "We listen to each other and value each other's input," he said.
At Bremer, we couldn’t be prouder to call Bob and David and the rest of the team at Breezy Point partners and friends. Congratulations on 100 years, Breezy Point!