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Linda and David Skoglund operate five Branson-area lodging properties, including the 99-unit Savannah House. Skoglund Properties, which hit $2.5 million in revenues in 2010, was the Branson chamber's Small Business of the Year.
Linda and David Skoglund operate five Branson-area lodging properties, including the 99-unit Savannah House. Skoglund Properties, which hit $2.5 million in revenues in 2010, was the Branson chamber's Small Business of the Year.

Business Spotlight: A Life in Lodging

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When Linda and David Skoglund arrived in Branson in 1989, they left longtime careers nursing and surveying in Minnesota to manage tri-lakes resort properties. Their northern friends and family thought they were a little crazy.

“Everyone really thought we were nuts,” Linda Skoglund recalls.

Turns out, the Skoglunds’ idea, which took root in 1993, wasn’t so strange. In their 18 years in property management, they’ve owned several properties and branded their hotels with complimentary breakfasts in the morning and warm desserts of cookies and cobbler after the shows end at night.

Skoglund Properties, which currently owns five Branson-area lodging properties, last month received the 2011 Small Business of the Year Award from the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We were really humbled by that award,” says Linda Skoglund. “When they called our name, we could have just dropped.”

The company also is known for producing and distributing 85,000 copies a year of BransonBest.com, a magazine that not only promotes their properties, but the shows and attractions in their adopted city.

“They don’t sell just lodging, but they sell Branson as a whole,” says Greg Baker, community bank president of the Branson/Hollister area for Arvest Bank, which has done business with Skoglund Properties since 1993.

In addition to Skoglund Properties, the couple also own two booking companies. Carriage Tours & Group Sales Inc. books motor coach tours to Branson, and Branson’s Best Reservations sets reservations for shows, attractions, lodging and dining destinations in Branson.

Before relocating, Linda Skoglund worked as a nurse for 23 years, and David Skoglund was a longtime surveyor for the city of Golden Valley, Minn.

“Now, a lot of our family has joined us here,” says Linda Skoglund, still possessing a Minnesotan accent.

Their son, Scott Skoglund, handles property maintenance, and their daughter and son-in-law, Janelle and Keith Schaum, separately manage Branson properties through Schaum Properties.   
In 1990, the Skoglunds’ first purchase was Lazy Valley Resort, which they sold three years later. They’ve since purchased the 66-unit Branson’s Best Motel, the 99-unit Savannah House and the 51-unit Savannah II. They formerly owned Whispering Hills Inn but sold it four years ago to their daughter and son-in-law.

Last fall, the Skoglunds added to their portfolio the 51-unit Brookwood Inn, and in March, the 180-unit, 6,000-square-foot Cobblestone Inn and Conference Center, which is undergoing a $1 million renovation for a Sept. 1 reopening as the Camden Hotel and Conference Center.

Linda Skoglund says they’ve carved a niche serving banks by managing properties in foreclosure and preparing them for sale. The Skoglunds have purchased several of the properties they’ve managed, including Savannah House and Cobblestone Inn from Ozark Mountain Bank, and Whispering Hills from Citizens National Bank in Springfield.

“I don’t think you’ll find a family more hard-working, and they have a talent for fixing up properties,” says Karen Hall, senior vice president for Ozark Mountain Bank in Branson.

David Skoglund credits the company’s 70 employees for executing and building the Skoglund Properties brand.

“I believe a business takes on the personality of the employees,” he says.

For his part, Skoglund instituted complimentary breakfast before guests leave their properties in the morning and desserts 9–11 p.m. when guests return from sightseeing and shows.

“David got the idea after we took a cruise,” says Linda Skoglund. “If people don’t remember the name of the hotel, they will remember the cobbler.”

Skoglund Properties recorded roughly 105,000 guests at the three properties it owned in 2010. Branson has historically drawn up to 8 million visitors a year.

Largely based on word-of-mouth – the company’s annual marketing budget is only $170,000 for the five properties and more than half is spent on BransonBest.com – Skoglund Properties grew 2010 revenues 19 percent to $2.5 million.

The company expects a dip to $2.2 million in 2011. “The disaster in Joplin, the Missouri River flooding and gas prices hit us this spring,” says Linda Skoglund.

Flooding also has occurred in Branson and Hollister.

The company’s largest property, Savannah House, was down 10 percent in revenues this spring but is now picking up. “We’re forecasted to do better now, but we only have a few more weeks before school starts,” she says.

Although business is down, Skoglund Properties isn’t scrimping on amenities. Denny Luellen, sales representative with Pippin Wholesale Co. in Harrison, Ark., supplies Skoglund Properties with janitorial, cleaning and breakfast bar supplies. He says Skoglund’s orders are up 5 percent compared to this time last year. “They have really good product management, and they know what they’re doing in the motel business,” Luellen adds.

Next on the docket is hiring a multistate sales representative to market Branson next year.

“We have a sales rep who markets to groups for our properties,” David Skoglund says. “We hope to have someone who will do general marketing of Branson in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.”[[In-content Ad]]

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