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Owner Looks to Breathe New Life Into Dearborn's Fairlane Club

The once-foreclosed club is showing growth in membership and event bookings heading into 2013.

When most people retire, they think of spending more time on their garden, or taking a big trip. For Russ Ebeid, retirement sounded like a great time to buy a failing Dearborn business and return it to its former glory.

“I’m not the type of guy who sits at home in a rocking chair,” said Ebeid, who bought the Fairlane Club in Dearborn in February 2011 after ending a 40-year career at Guardian Industries. “I’m not afraid of taking on big tasks.”

Such was the Fairlane Club. Formerly a well-known recreational spot for local families, the club was in foreclosure when Ebeid swooped in, sure that he could restore it to what it once was.

“In the ‘70s and early ‘80s, it was prestigious,” he recalled. “I just thought: This is an icon that should not be closed.”

But he was the first to admit that the club needed work—from replacing 80 percent of the management staff and mending ties with members to putting new coats of paint on the walls and changing up the menu at the club restaurant. Ebeid brought in top name coaches for basketball and tennis, revamped the outdoor tennis courts and pool, and focused with his team on recreating the Fairlane Club brand.

“I saw it as hard work; a one- to two-year project to break even,” he shared. “To me, if it’s something you like, it’s not hard work.”

And it’s always nice when the work starts to pay off.

According to Director of Sales and Marketing Patti Mooradian, the club had seven weddings in 2011. In 2012, that number had quadrupled. Memberships, likewise, are up.

“We’re really focused on events,” Mooradian added, explaining that they’ve started mix-and-mingle nights for members, plus seasonal events with a bigger draw—such as brunches for Easter and Halloween.

Director of Membership Jamie McMillen, meanwhile, has focused on bringing in members—both former and brand new.

“We want to bring back the luster of the facility—reach out to old members and reach out to the community and try to bring them back to see the changes,” she said. “We’re trying to get the word out again, and find out what members want—more aerobics classes, or more events.”

Ebeid’s goals are high.

“It’s my hope to become the second most prestigious outfit in the area,” he said—noting that the Detroit Athletic Club is No. 1.

Though news of the club’s ownership change leaked out in 2011, heavy marketing efforts started just recently. It was a calculated plan by Ebeid and his team, who wanted to make the club perfect before spreading the word in a bigger way.

“First impressions are important,” he said. “We took losses. We’ve lost some members. But you build from the ground up.”

And hopefully, 2013 will be the club’s time to shine.

“I now feel we have something to show.”

Tom Laundroche February 02, 2013 at 06:28 PM
The Dearborn Optimist club meets at the Fairlane Club the second and fourth Wednesday of every month 12 Noon. We find the staff and food top notch and wish Russ Ebeid much success. Interested visitors to our service club can join us for lunch any meeting and learn how we serve the youth of our community through our volunteer efforts.
Sallie February 05, 2013 at 04:08 AM
I think Mr. Ebeid has good intentions and a challenging task at hand. However, he speaks of losing members as though it is an unavoidable side effect of the process. We were former members who left because of the deteriorating customer service. When we had concerns, we were brushed off. When we felt wronged, we were treated callously. The Club started a policy that required members to spend a fair amount inside the facility, such as the restaurant. When we paid up front, instead of putting it on our account, we did not get credit for patronizing the club and were charged additionally! We complained, but they would not budge. Mind you we were members for over five years. We were so fed up with the lack of customer service, that we terminated our membership. And guess what? We weren't even persuaded to think it over. It was all about the money. Mr. Ebeid, I ask that you research why your membership declined. You say you are reaching out to lost members. Which ones? My member number is B6954. We quit in May 2011.
Patti March 05, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Change is not easy. A lot of negativity was created in the Club over the past 6 years and once something goes wrong, it's difficult to change. The Club and every employee are doing the best they can to turn things around. There have been much more positive comments than negative. I'm not quite sure exactly the time frame from the above comment, however, lets set something straight. The new ownership didn't take over until November 1, 2011. According to this comment, Mr. Bazzi's family resigned under the old ownership in May 2011. Several accounts were lost when origianl policies were reinforced. The minimums were put in place in January of 2012. Anyone that paid any other way aside from their member account, only needed to bring in a receipt for payment and the minimum would be credited back to them. If there was no receipt, and the charges were not put on the members account, then there is no proof that the minimum was met for that quarter. Simple accounting. Several other members did the same and there was no issue. The minimum was credited back no questions asked. I am always open to hearing from any current or prior member. Anyone is welcome to come in and discuss membership, billing, or event problems they have experienced. And membership has increased by 25% since January 4, 2013. New and old members have been excited and pleased with the return of the Fairlane Club. Thank you, Jamie McMillen, Membership Director

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