Life On The Pine Hill Plantation
CNBC Special Features Reporter
It is 6:15 am and it is 19 degrees. The grass is frozen, but the bonfire is high and the hearts are warm. We are beginning a day's worth of quail hunting on the Pine Hill Plantation in southern Georgia. For Roger Johnson, the CEO of publicly traded Knologoy, it is very much about coming home.
"My Dad and I came here. He brought me and then I was lucky enough to be able to bring him back. He was buried with his Pine Hill hat." Johnson is the perfect example of who comes to Pine Hill, and just the right guy to talk to about who comes and why.
"We all are about the same age and in the same high net worth bracket. We are taking up things we didn't have time for when we were chasing the buck. No we do and we can afford them. So here we are." Johnson and I are standing in front of the main lodge. It was built a couple of years ago, the plantation has been in business since 1990.
"I was a client first, and then a few years ago I went into partnership with the owners. Then I bought it outright. It will be my second chapter." Doug Coe and I are walking out back near the lake. Coe is the owner of Pine Hill, a high end hunting lodge, endorsed by the Orvis Company. He closes the sale of his company to Caterpillar in March.
"It is a wonderful niche business, " Coe says, "Mostly men who hunted at one time, who have the money now to get back to doing what they used to do. Back to their roots. But these are customers who are used to the best and want it, even when they go hunting."
At five thousand dollars a night for a group of four it is definitely at the high end. What you get for that price is the whole lodge for your group, your own chef, meals of your choice, hunting guides, horse back and wagon transportation to the hunting grounds. Wonderful working dogs and a chance to hunt one of the craftiest birds on the planet. Quail hunting brings in hundreds of millions of dollars to the Georgia economy.
"Does it get any better than this?" The question comes from James Hathaway of the Orvis Company. Orvis endorses a select few hunting lodges in the country, a program that works for them and the lodges.
"For us it's brand building. For them it helps their business. They can use the Orvis name in their advertising, on the internet, anywhere they want to attract customers. We check up on them throughout the year to make sure they're keeping things up to our standards. It works for both of us." Hathaway and I are talking while he sits on his horse smoking a cigar. The sun is shining through the trees, the air is crisp, the dogs are working.
He's right. It doesn't get any better.
"Mike On America" will be in Mississippi and Alabama next week. Keep your eyes peeled for our reports on Power Lunch, 12 to 2 pm eastern time. Next week we'll be on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Time to reload.
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