When Peter Saez started working at The Epping Club 35 years ago, the clubs industry was vastly different to what it is today. 

“It is not news to anyone that the registered club industry has undergone significant shifts influenced by social, demographic, political and commercial dynamics,” he told Club Management.

“Notably, many clubs including our own, have been forced to contend with an aging membership base, changes in the local landscape with vast recreational choices on offer, and a never-before-seen level of demand for the entertainment dollar.

“The modern, vibrant club industry we know today has survived the squeeze, but this pressure has definitely forced a dramatic change in what clubs are and offer.”

Amidst these challenges, Saez embraced the ethos that every problem is an opportunity, a mantra that has underscored both his personal journey and the club’s success. During his tenure, the club has won many awards, including ClubsNSW Best Function Venue, Best Restaurant in a Club, and many others.

Saez landed the top job at The Epping Club in 2005. Before that, he worked at Forestville RSL, The Spanish Club, and Hakoah Club. Yet, it’s the club’s community engagement that resonates most with him.

“That is a true privilege of any club manager. Of course, the team I have built and our excellent internal culture right through the business is to be liked, [but] I believe that without these core values of community and culture, no other part of the role can really be satisfying,” he said.

Beyond his role as CEO, Saez prides himself as a mentor and leader in the industry. He was the inaugural education chairman for the Club Managers’ Association Australia (CMAA), a position he held for five years, and the sponsorship chair for three years.   

“I have always considered myself to be committed to training and development,” he said.  

“Many young people who have come up under me are now club managers in their own venues. Being a mentor is a responsibility of every leader and in my mind, others’ achievements should be celebrated – they don’t detract from your own.” 

Looking to the future, Saez has started to look at ways to ensure the club’s longevity. Most recently, The Epping Club sold the commercial property, the Epping Arcade, as a development site and acquired the multi-storey office building next door to the club. 

“Whilst this diversifies our income, it also future proofs us, allowing us to expand the club’s footprint in years to come,” he said.

Refreshing the club’s offerings has also been at the forefront of the business for the last 12 months, Saez said. 

“We have sought new target audiences and established ways to connect with them through innovative ideas,” he explained.  

“Quality food, our five-star service mantra and excellent facilities remain the backbone, but cutting through relies upon seeking to be different from the venues around you. 

“Live entertainment and food and wine events are always strong for us, but we’ve also launched a Literary Luncheon Series with high-profile authors, we’ve looked for trends and moved quickly to ride those tides. For our Taylor Swift trivia, for example, there was a waitlist to get into this event. 

“We’ve done psychic dinners and we’re even hosting the Australian Board Game Championships. All these concepts have sold out in the hundreds proving that the community want something different from the standard club offering.”

Looking ahead, Saez said he now looks forward to working with local businesses, developers, and local members and the councils to reinvigorate the Epping town centre. 

“Projects like these are what I enjoy most.”  

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