New General Manager Tom Fowler at his office at Bent Tree. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL
Jasper native comes back to Bent Tree as GM
Jasper native Tom Fowler has been in his new job for one month as general manager of Bent Tree where he worked as a golf cart attendant and shop clerk during his high school and early college years.
His most recent job was at the 300-home Achasta Golf Resort and Community in Dahlonega where he started out as the golf professional at the 18-hole Jack Nicholas designed golf course and, after it fell into receivership, was promoted to general manager. Achasta was purchased by Greenwood International and Fowler worked for Greenwood for two years.
“In August of this year this position became available and it seemed like all I had done at Achasta the past five years prepared me for coming here,” Fowler said. “A lot of the projects that I am currently working on are very similar to what I worked on there.”
It must feel like a homecoming for the 47-year-old Fowler who lives in Dawsonville with Dana, his wife of 25 years and daughter Hannah, both of whom are schoolteachers.
“I worked here in high school and my early college days,” Fowler said. “A lot of the people I knew way back in the late 80s and early 90s are still here.”
Fowler has been a PGA member for 25 years and has remained active in golf. He was a pro at Reynolds Plantation, ran tournaments, worked for a golf technology company, and owned his own golf management company.
“Golf is my passion,” Fowler said.
He was asked what challenges or issues he needed to tackle at Bent Tree. He said there was little to fix but that there are some challenges.
“It is amazing how many in the community volunteer their time simply because they care about Bent Tree,” Fowler said. “These efforts are led by the board of directors and various committees that they represent. The members of the Bent Tree staff are doing an exceptional job. Our team is looking forward to finding ways to improve quality and services to all.”
Fowler said that the Bent Tree board of directors has made it his priority to market Bent Tree. He said strengthening the brand would be one of his first steps to meet that objective.
“The Bent Tree brand represents over 40 years of history and has an incredible story to tell,” Fowler said. “Just a little of the story is how secure and affordable it is to live in Bent Tree while living an active lifestyle. It will be an exciting endeavor to weave the Bent Tree story together and create a cohesiveness to the Bent Tree brand.”
There are various independent logos, websites, and messages currently that he must tackle to achieve the cohesiveness Fowler said.
“Part of my job in this branding effort is to get everyone grazing in the same pasture under the same umbrella,” Fowler said.
He says he wants to establish a platform that will make it easier for the amenities at Bent Tree to run their business.
“You are going to have naysayers in any community that you go to but if they are the only voice that’s being heard then you have got to promote a positive message that outshines, out-volumes the rest of the messages,” Fowler stressed.
Seventy-one homes were sold this year in Bent Tree but it doesn’t have a real estate division. Fowler hopes he can change that.
“We want to be able to tell our own story, represent our own property and not to have to have someone else represent it for us,” he said.
The Stables at Bent Tree is probably their most unusual amenity and draws residents as well as non-residents who can board horses there as well as take trail rides. Fowler said he is looking to hire a stablemaster.
“We had almost 500 trail rides last year,” Fowler said. “Our trails are as good as any you would find in Colorado or Montana. We have a connecting trail that allows you to go to the top of Sharp Top. The barn area is part of the fabric of Bent Tree. Part of the Bent Tree brand is that it has an equestrian area with stables.
“Our business model (for the Equestrian amenity) is boarding, trail rides, grooming lessons, training and that kind of stuff,” Fowler said.
Having worked under a receivership, Fowler was asked about the financial stability of Bent Tree.
“It’s a debt free community,” Fowler said. “That’s really exciting and one of the three top reasons I came here.”
The 4500-acre Bent Tree community currently has 1100 homes, and 55 miles of roads. In addition to the 400 half-acre lots that can be made into “about 100 developable lots,” Bent Tree also has 28 acres on Cove Road that has been talked about being developed as a maintenance-free living community, according to Fowler.
Fowler is active at his church and is a Bible college student.