For two of this year's inductees into the Nevada Business Hall of Fame, their concept of retirement is not one most people would recognize.
Since stepping down six years ago as chairman and CEO of what was then Harrah's Entertainment, Philip Satre has joined four corporate boards, two of them as non-executive chairman.
"After 25 years at one company, including 20 years as CEO, I felt that most of the tricks in my bag had been played out," recalled the 61-year-old Satre. "I was ready to do other things and I thought I could help out with my background."
Donald Snyder delved into several projects, notably spearheading the construction of the Smith Performing Arts Center, after leaving as president of Boyd Gaming in 2005. Still, he accepted the interim dean's post at University of Nevada, Las Vegas' William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration in July, knowing that severe budget turbulence lay ahead.
"This is truly a day job," said Snyder, 63, who expects that the interim tag will disappear soon.
With the formal admission tonight of Snyder and Satre, along with Barbara Greenspun, the publisher of the Las Vegas Sun until her death last June, the hall will have grown to 35 members on its 10th anniversary. Satre, a Reno resident, gained a rare nod for someone outside the Las Vegas area, although he made his business mark here.
Satre joined Harrah's in 1980, just as Holiday Inns acquired what was then a two-casino operation in Reno and Lake Tahoe. It had become known as much for the collection of 7,000 antique cars assembled by company founder Bill Harrah as a place to gamble. After a stint as president of the third casino in Atlantic City, Satre returned to the corporate headquarters in 1984 as president.
"What I learned very quickly was that we had a very good formula at Harrah's and it was transportable," he said.
He used a platform that emphasized customer service and slots over table games to take the company nationwide, building the company under different ownerships to 26 casinos by the time he stepped down. He engineered the purchase of Caesars Entertainment in 2004 but turned the reins over to Gary Loveman before the deal was completed the next year.
Since then, he has joined boards of widely divergent companies that he believes fit his background: Nordstrom and Rite-Aid because they deal with customers; IGT, which makes gaming hardware; and NV Energy, which operates under substantial government regulation, much like casinos.
Snyder broke into the casino industry as an outsider, coming to Las Vegas in 1987 as the chairman and CEO of First Interstate Bank of Nevada. Before its acquisition by Wells Fargo, it was the state's largest bank and a major commercial lender. It was there, he said, that he learned how the casino and resort industry worked.
When he left the bank in 1991 after 22 years, he helped launch what became the Bank of Nevada along with casino mogul Bill Boyd. He also helped put together the Fremont Street Experience, where Boyd had properties.
This led to him being named a Boyd Gaming director in 1996 and the company's president less than a year later. He stayed with Boyd until 2005.
Like Satre, he has joined the boards of a diverse group of companies, including Bank of Nevada and its parent, Western Alliance Bancorporation, contracting Tutor Perini Corp., NV Energy and privately held Switch Communications Group.
Although Barbara Greenspun never had the high public profile of her husband, Hank, she was credited with helping the Las Vegas Sun survive its early, lean years. She was also credited with being the full-fledged partner of her husband, who died in 1989, in ventures such as the Green Valley planned community, the start of Channel 8 in 1953 and Las Vegas' first cable company, later absorbed by Cox Communications.
Later in life, she turned her attention to philanthropy, putting the family name on UNLV's College of Urban Affairs and contributing to the Barbara Greenspun WomensCare Centers of Excellence at two of the St. Rose Dominican hospitals.
Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at email@example.com or 702-387-5290.