Gary Terry - First President of American Resort Development Association

By Rosalie E. Leposky

Attorney Gary A. Terry, who retired in 1991 as president of the American Resort Development Association, has found a new niche in the hotel-development business.

Widely regarded as the father of the timeshare industry's trade association, Terry helped to establish ARDA (then known as the American Land Development Association) in 1969 and was present at the birth of Camp Coast to Coast and of Resort Condominiums International (RCI).

Terry now is a general partner in Eagle Development Company, a Virginia limited-liability company formed in late 1995. "Eagle is developing limited-service residential hotels and mixed-use hotels and motels," says Terry. "The potential exists to do timesharing at future hotel properties."


   Gary A. Terry

Eagle's other partners are:

"Gregory and I do the developing, and Gary does the legal work," says Wilson, who is responsible for Eagle's day-to-day operations. "At Marriott I learned how to balance multiple hotels in various stages of development. With all labels combined, we opened a total of about 100 hotels a year. I never think in terms of one or two hotels but of clusters of hotels."

Eagle's projects include:

Terry also serves in an of-counsel capacity with the law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough, Utah's oldest law firm (organized circa 1875). Today he spends about 10 percent of his time practicing law, and 90 percent working with his Eagle partners, managing his own investments, and helping to organize joint business ventures.

Origins and Opportunities

Gary Terry was born in Ogden, Utah, in 1935, but he grew up in Cedar City, a southern Utah community with a population of 5,000. "Both my mother's family, the Sorensons, and my father's people, the Terrys, followed Brigham Young west in the 1840s," he says. "One of my great-great-grandfathers commanded one of Young's hand-cart companies for followers too poor to afford wagons. They walked west pushing and pulling their possessions across the plains and mountains in carts that resembled the pushcarts used by merchants in New York City."

Gary's mother died when he was 13 years old. His father , Hyrum Aceal "Ace" Terry, owner of a sporting-goods store, later remarried. Gary has two half-sisters and a half-brother. He was active in high-school sports, was student-body president, and was voted 1953's senior boy of the year. "I joined the Navy right out of high school because of problems with my stepmother," he says. He served just over two years in Navy at the end of the Korean War. "The Navy sent me to boot camp in San Diego, where I earned the highest medal offered to each graduating company -- the American Spirit of Honor -- for showing the highest example of leadership to command at arms."

Terry served as an electronic counter-measures specialist in the Far East on the aircraft carrier Princeton (CVS-37), visiting Hong Kong, Japan, Malaya, Singapore, and South Korea. "I had decided to become a career naval officer and had been accepted to Officer Candidate School when I contracted polio in August of 1955, just two months before the vaccine became available," he says.

Terry spent most of the next two years in Navy and Veterans Administration hospitals in California. "I read everything in the hospital libraries, learned to type, took algebra and trigonometry to refresh my high-school math, learned to weave on a loom, and other activities to keep my mind active, exercise my body, and learn to walk by substituting muscles. In 1957 I started college at the University of California, Los Angeles, walking with crutches and braces on my legs."

Terry graduated from UCLA in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Along the way, he studied industrial design and took pre-law courses. "I continued to exercise like a demon," he says. Several times he slipped and fell while trying to negotiate terrazzo hallways on the UCLA campus carrying a drawing board and implements, a T-Square, and books. "Everyone could hear me as I clattered through the halls. When I fell, someone had to help me up. Once I fell while walking near a group of attractive women, tripping in previously spilled coffee. As they helped me up, I told them I was falling for them. Today, people who see me walk may notice something wrong, but not what is wrong."

From 1959 to 1961, Terry interrupted his college studies to serve as a Mormon missionary in Virginia and North Carolina. He was still a very tentative walker when he started his mission service. "I had only recently ceased using my leg braces and crutches, and two or three blocks was a long walk," he says. "The first night as a missionary I walked about six miles round trip -- a miracle. During the first half of my mission I continued to walk and rode a bicycle. Later, I acquired a car."

In Richmond, Virginia, Terry met his future wife, Carol A. Eitel, a music student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She was home for the summer to prepare for her own missionary assignment in North Carolina. In 1962 the Terrys married in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple in Los Angeles. They have two children, both National Merit Scholars who earned Bachelor of Arts degrees at BYU:

Following graduation from UCLA, Terry moved to Washington, D.C. Despite his Republican political leanings, he worked as a clerk in the office of Rep. John McFall, a California Democrat, while attending night classes at George Washington University Law School.

Terry left McFall in 1965 to work for Bethlehem Steel Corporation, which paid the rest of his law-school bills while teaching him lobbying skills. He worked there until 1969. In 1968 he graduated from law school and participated in Bethlehem's executive-training program.

"We moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for a few months and then back to northern Virginia," he recalls. "I was working again in Bethlehem's Washington office, and I was bored."

An opportunity for change came in a phone call from a friend asking for help. He was Robert Barker, general counsel for Richard M. Nixon's 1969 inauguration committee chaired by hotelier J. Willard Marriott. Terry took a leave of absence from Bethlehem Steel to serve as a special assistant to the inauguration committee's executive director, Bob McCune, who was Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's top lobbyist. Later he would hire McCune to be ALDA's vice president for government.

In the course of Terry's inaugural responsibilities, he met Gerald R. Ford, then the House minority leader. "I worked with Ford's staff planning the inauguration, and they arranged a space in the House parking garage for my car during the swearing- in. Ford is a bright, down-to-earth man. His staff reflected his personality."

The Birth of ALDA

After the inauguration, Bethlehem Steel extended Terry's leave so he could work in the office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's general counsel. At HUD, his responsibilities included fleshing out regulations for the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, passed by Congress to regulate sellers of land. It required land developers to register with the Office of Land Sales Registration (OLSR). "I saw," he says, "that if developers had been represented by a trade association, the legislation would have been very different."

Committed to forming an association for land developers, he resigned from his government post and from Bethlehem Steel, and formed ALDA in November of 1969. He rented ALDA's first office from Bethlehem Steel -- two small rooms in the Solar Building at 16th and K Streets, N.W.

As Terry was growing ALDA, his wife tended the Terry children while teaching piano and organ, and volunteered to teach English as a second language to Asian and Hispanic immigrant students in the northern Virginia schools. Terry commuted into the District of Columbia from Arlington at first, and later from Vienna, 20 miles away -- a trip he grew to dislike.

At first, Terry hadn't the slightest idea how to establish a trade association, so he asked Denny L. Brown, an Idaho-born attorney friend with trade-association experience, to become a member of ALDA's five-man founding group. Denny was an accountant who had kept the books for two national trade associations -- the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association -- while attending George Washington University Law School.

In the mid-1960s, Brown moved to Washington "because there was always work for accountants in Washington, and because of its large Mormon community." He was working for a Washington law firm, Albord and Albord, when Terry approached him about forming ALDA. Terry also approached Bill Habel; attorney Don Harding (now a district judge in Soda Springs, Idaho); and fellow HUD attorney William Boley Ingersoll, who conspired with Terry over multiple brown-bag lunches to shape the organization's form and substance.

With financial help from Research Homes, a northern Virginia home developer, Terry wrote ALDA's organizing documents, wrote and mailed its first promotional literature, registered ALDA as a District of Columbia corporation, and went on the road to sell memberships. The first person outside Washington to help was Los Angeles attorney David G. Ellsworth, now a senior partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Ellsworth introduced Terry to his clients and later helped to launch ARDA's California chapter.

In 1970, Fairfield Communities became ALDA's first land- developer member, followed soon by Sun River Properties in Sun River, Oregon. "Very early we were concerned about the business practices of some of the big-volume, monolithic lot-sales organizations," recalls Terry. "I was sure some of the lot- sales organizations, such as Horizon in Texas and Amrep in New York and Florida, would fail by their own actions if the federal government did not stop them first. We did not actively seek their membership or encourage it but we could not under federal anti-trust laws prohibit their membership. I was concerned they would try to control the association or be our typical members.

"In 1971 or 1972, the president of a large lot-sales company with questionable business practices that we had discouraged from joining approached an ALDA board member with one request: 'Fire Terry, and we will make a $25,000 contribution to ALDA.' "Employees of another company with questionable practices once threatened Terry's life."

"Typically," Terry says, "businesses do not self-regulate well without an incentive, either economic or governmental. We wanted to represent the small developers who were out there on their own. We recognized that not all regulation was bad. We came to represent the better companies, the ones that survived, including Cooper Communities, Inc., and Fairfield Communities, Inc., in Arkansas, which still are ARDA members.

The Emergence of Timesharing

Campground developers played a significant role in ALDA's early days. "There still are a number of well-run sold-out camping resorts," Terry says. "Generally campgrounds are developer-operated, not run by a homeowners' association. After the formative years, fewer new campgrounds were built, and they're now a less visible element in ARDA. Campgrounds never produced the sales or membership volume now associated with timesharing."

Jerol Andres, ARDA's chairman in 1984-1986, originally was in the campground business and now is chief executive officer of Eagle Crest Partners, Ltd., in Redmond, Oregon. "Under Jerol's direction, ARDA's started strategic planning," says Terry. "I'm proud to have had the vision to help to establish an association committed to ethical business practices, in an industry that initially had some unethical operators."

By 1973, Keith Trowbridge and Carl Burlingame were encouraging the association to create an organizational structure within ALDA to serve the emerging timeshare industry. "Everyone was a pioneer and innovator, and errors were made because there were no timeshare how-to textbooks," Terry says.

"In the early days, timeshare management followed the practices of land-sales developers who developed, marketed, and sold the product, and left it for someone else to manage.

"Now timeshare developers create full-service resort communities. ARDA created the Timesharing Foundation as an educational vehicle to study the industry and influence public opinion, and councils within ARDA to represent different product types. The timeshare industry continues to grow and change rapidly, and it has adopted many good development and hospitality-management concepts from the hotel industry."

During his last two years at ARDA, Terry was bored. "I enjoyed being at ARDA for 20 years, but I needed a change, and they needed a change from me. We made a severance deal, and I left, comfortable that I was leaving ARDA in good hands."

In 1991 he joined Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough, and practiced in its Washington office until 1995, when he moved to St. George, Utah, where the firm also maintains an office.

Camp Coast-To-Coast and RCI

In 1972, the American Land Development Association designated one of its founders, Denny Brown, to run a membership- campground organization that became known as Camp Coast to Coast. Denny hired his older brother, A.C. Brown, to help market it.

The following year, despite international fuel shortages and an economic recession, the fledgling organization published its first campground directory, with information on 13 members. It held a planning meeting in March of 1973 and an an organizational meeting in September. Eight campground owners attended the latter gathering, including Robert Pearlman (then an Ohio developer), Martin Price, and John Dunnen (the 1969-1972 ALDA chairman, who later opened a New Hampshire campground). At ALDA's October 1973 meeting in New Orleans, Steven Arnold, ALDA's second chairman (in 1972-1973), asked interested members to invest $5,000 to help establish the still unnamed organization and promote the sale of its stock. "I talked frequently on the phone with Martin Price and with Jon DeHaan, who was then working for a Texas campground company," says Brown. "We considered the name Camp America, and selected Camp Coast to Coast. Primarily, I was more concerned with the association concept. I formulated rules, and sent out a mailing. Ten owners applied. DeHaan and I went over the applications, inspected each campground and tried to decide who we wanted as members."

From the beginning, ALDA's attorney, William B. Ingersoll was concerned about ALDA's potential liability if an injured camper sued Camp Coast to Coast. On November 1, 1976, ALDA eliminated that risk by selling Camp Coast to Coast to Denny Brown for $10,000. On January 1, 1985, Brown sold his interest in it for just under $20 million to American Bakeries Company. Today it is a subsidiary of Affinity Group, Inc., a recreational-membership and publishing firm. Denny Brown now lives in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and owns Brown Publishing, Inc. A.C. still lives in the Washington area.

Denny Brown recalls that a court case years ago once required him to document the first mention of reciprocation (exchange). "I was able to indicate, from information I had then, that the first mention of the reciprocation concept occurred in September of 1972 at an ALDA meeting held at the Drake Hotel in Chicago," he says.

Following the Camp Coast to Coast example, Gary Terry began to think about all of the unused condominiums on the market. "I discussed my condominium idea with Denny," Terry recalls. "At first I asked him not to share it. Later, Denny talked to Jon DeHaan, who thought it was an outstanding concept." According to a business-history calendar and diary that Brown still maintains, these conversations took place in mid-1973.

Brown asked Terry if he wanted ALDA to sponsor a condominium-reciprocation program, but Brown felt the association should not do it. "I told Gary that I would organize the condominium program, and get help from Martin Price, a very energetic person, and John DeHaan, with whom I got along well and who always had good ideas," says Brown.

The trio met first at the Statler Hilton Hotel (now the Capital Hilton), and later in Martin's office in McLean, Virginia. "We hammered out the rules little by little as we talked. Red, blue, and white reciprocation weeks were created.

"We discussed the concept of timesharing. It tied in nicely with what we were doing. Fifty or 52 members for every unit made good sense, although some whole-ownership residents were not friendly to the out-of-town timeshare owners. One early rule, never implemented, was that at the end of the year each resort was supposed to receive a check to cover clean-up costs."

Who would lead the company? "DeHaan had recently married and wanted to stay in Indianapolis, Martin was busy developing a new campground, and I was occupied with Camp Coast-to-Coast," Brown says. "We each contributed money and owned a third of about 96 percent of the company. A fourth contributor of start-up funds, Don Harding, owned a small percentage of the company. Later Jon reported that he had spent $25,000 of his own money to start RCI."

Brown could not match DeHaan's investment in RCI, and DeHaan offered to buy out Brown's interest. "He pulled an agreement out of his pocket, Brown recounts. "Since I wanted to show a profit, I asked $3,000 for my $1,000 investment. I sold my share of RCI's birthright for a bowl of porridge. I'm not sure how Jon convinced Don and Marty to sell their shares in RCI."

Involvement in Community Service

In his last years at the helm of the American Resort Development Association, Gary A. Terry served as bishop (minister) to a 500-member Mormon singles congregation with participants ranging in age from late teens to early 30s. "The members of my singles congregation were nannies, students, tradesmen, and young professionals -- many away from home for the first time," he says. "As bishop, I focused on their religious and social life."

He also helped to involve the Mormon Church in a food- collection effort and organized a legal clinic associated with Bread for the City and Zacchaeus Free Clinic (a health clinic). "The District's inner-city churches created Bread for the City to supply emergency food and clothing, and the Washington chapter of CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality) founded the Zacchaeus Free Clinics," said Terry. "The D.C. bar association asked me to help Zacchaeus set up a legal clinic." Terry joined the Zacchaeus board.

"It occurred to me," he says, "that the Mormon Church, which normally is involved in helping with national and international disasters, should be involved at the local level with Bread for the City," said Terry. "Today the Mormon Church, as part of its welfare program, frequently sends truckloads of food and clothing from Salt Lake City to Washington."

Rosalie E. Leposky is managing partner of Ampersand Communications, a news-features syndicate based in Miami, Florida.

Copyright 1997 Ampersand Communications
All Rights Reserved
Published in The Resort Trades, February.

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