CMI Touts Executive's Experience and Financial Backing of Board
TAMWORTH—No sooner had shrieks of protest begin to fade from track opponents who claimed Club Motor Sports, Inc.'s young president, Stephan Condodemetraky, couldn't raise tens of millions to build a race track, CMI announced a management shuffle last week, dropping its founding entrepreneur into a consulting role and replacing him with a more experienced member of the team.
Lloyd C. Dahmen, a managing member of AlphaMetrics Capital Management LLC of Boston, Mass., succeeds Condodemetraky as president of Club Motorsports Inc., the firm looking to carve a European-style practice racetrack into the side of Tamworth's Mt. Whittier, the company announced last Tuesday. The Derry company also named Andrzej Brzezinski, president of LaserComp Inc. of Saugus, Mass., chairman of the board of directors.
CMI spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne called the move a usual and pre-planned step for a growing company like CMI. "I just think the board of shareholders recognized the need to take the board to the next level,"
Tranchemontagne said Monday. "A lot of growing companies go through it as they grow," he said. "The question was when was it time to ask these gentlemen to step up." "A lot of talented people like Mr. Dahmen and Andrzej were in position to step up and help," Tranchemontagne said. "Mr. Dahmen has a tremendous amount of experience.
Where two months ago Condodemetraky's moral fiber and finances were harshly criticized — when at a public hearing accusations erupted inside a jammed-full Tamworth gymnasium with the ferocity of close-discharging shotguns —his recent step aside has elicited only muffled nonchalance from detractors.
"It doesn't really change anything," said Kate Vachon, press coordinator for a local citizens' group who fears a lack of control by townspeople over the project could spell environmental and financial doom for the area. "Concerns still remain," Vachon said. "What are the issues for Tamworth if the project goes on unregulated?... problems will be created for Tamworth if we don't get some local regulations." The passing of a state law last spring rendered moot a town ordinance enacted to regulate the track on a local level, leaving many residents feeling both angry and helpless.
In October, before a vocal and sympathetic audience of hundreds, lawyers for the citizens' group, Focus: Tamworth, demanded the federal government hinge a bond clause on a wetlands permit that would ensure CMI pay for clean up costs if the project failed. Concord attorney Sherri Young, and venture capitalists and Focus members, Alex Moot and Stephen Gaal, testified at the Oct. 6 Army Corps permit hearing that the company would prove financially inadequate to complete the project, and had estimated $22 million too low for its construction costs.
Taxpayers would be left in an environmental and financial lurch if the project were abandoned mid-way though, they said, as the town would be left alone to absorb the environmental clean-up bill. "This is a tiny start-up company, thinly-financed and highly mortgaged. Mr. Condodemetraky and his management team have no prior experience in building or operating similar businesses. I am concerned that they will start to build it, run out of money, and leave us with the problem of stabilizing the site," Gaal said.
Before the hearing, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attorney Michael Hicks said the corps had investigated Condodemetraky and considered him a "serious developer," Hicks said. "So far as we know, he has the financial means to do the project." Developers maintained they would complete the motorsports park's construction at any cost, while standing by their original estimate of $28 million. "Both myself and the investor group involved has the financial where-with-all to build 50 of these facilities," Condodemetraky boasted at the onset of the hearing. Two days after, company spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne said Condodemetraky was using the 50-facility figure to illustrate CMI's financial security and may not have meant it literally.
Last week's leadership change will position CMI financially, and experience-wise for the project's next phase, the company said in a press release touting its new president and his 40 years investment and venture capital experience. "Dahmen, 63, said the company is well positioned for continued growth, noting strong support from CMI's board of directors, as well as a lead group of investors with a combined net worth exceeding $500,000,000," according to a press release Tuesday.
"Stephan Condodemetraky's entrepreneurial spirit and vision launched this exciting project and helped it secure critical funding and permits in its early phases. We look forward to continuing to rely on Stephan's passion and expertise as a consultant to the company as we transition CMI to its next level," Dahmen said in the statement.
CMI said that nay-sayers were herded into the October Army Corps hearing to blast Condodemetraky and his project by the citizens' group it has often labeled "die-hard activist opponents" and "determined to kill this project." The leadership change may swing some public opinion of the company's resources made negative by the attacks, the company said. However the appointment of a new president and board chairman was not a result of clamoring by opponents. "This is not in any way a direct result of that," Tranchemontagne said. "If this answers some of these questions, then good."
The Army Corps has since sent CMI a list of questions raised at the October hearing and the company is in the process of responding, according to Tranchemontagne Monday.