'Undercover Boss': Mohegan Sun Chairman Gives Valet Who Flunks Him Life-Changing Gift
Just because you've been a valet customer, doesn't mean you can be a valet driver. Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, retiring chairman of the Mohegan Sun, learned this first-hand during Friday's episode of "Undercover Boss." The Mohegan Sun is a three-location gaming, lodging and entertainment empire owned and operated by the Mohegan Tribe of America. Employing some 13,000, the enterprise generates more than $1 billion in revenue annually.
Mohegan means "wolf people" and the tribe took the unconventional route of Wall Street funding to open its first commercial casino in Uncasville, CT. Since then, casinos have opened in Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, N.J. Decisions are made the tribal way for the long-term, based on looking ahead 13 generations, according to Boszum.
Half of all workers employed by Mohegan in 1996 on day one still work there 17 years later and these are not necessarily career-track positions.
"No one is pushed aside. You're always taken care of," says Bozsum, a family man and father of eight. He's a spiritual person and also serves as pipe carrier for the tribe performing weddings, blessing building sites, and other ceremonial duties. He's retiring from his business role after second term as chairman and has worked at the casino since inception – construction, design, the Bingo hall and cultural programs.
"As I prepare to pass the torch," he said, "it's essential I learn what's working and what isn't."
When Bruce (masquerading as reality show entrepreneur "Sam") meets Melanie, she exudes patience and competence.
What a valet does at Mohegan
"I've used valet, but I've never done the job," says Bruce, who must record the first and last names of each customer along with license plate number, put it in the car and go on to the next one. Within moments, he's written a ticket whose plate number is too messy to decipher.
"That's what happens when you rush," cautions Melanie. She gives him some allowance: "He's an older man and it's his first time."
Boszum fails the car retrieval timing test, clocking a full three minutes longer than the five minutes allotted to run to the car, unlock the door, and drive it back to the waiting customer. Sounds easy, but watch the clip to see how Boszum even bungled the door opening.
Senior citizen hazard
Melanie points out there is a hazard at the pick-up and drop-off area. Many of the patrons are older, moving with some difficulty or with walkers. Several have fallen because there are few curb cuts for the handicapped to roll into their vehicles.
It's crucial to "remember customer service," Melanie says and, "always make sure we get the doors for them."
Bruce is impressed with Melanie's dedication to the customer having a top-notch experience, since it requires trust to leave your car with a complete stranger and have a good time in the casino.
Melanie's assessment of his performance: "I think it was pretty bad. I think he would need a lot more practice to work in valet."
Hours cut and no benefits
During their break, Melanie confides she's only working part-time and the casino is cutting hours. She has a 5-year-old daughter and is on state healthcare. Her fiancé stays home and cares for her child. If she worked full-time, she would get 40 hours and the benefits she needs.
"Everyone wants that wedding you'll remember the rest of your life," Melanie tells Bruce. But since she pays all the bills, and lacks even a high school diploma or GED, it seems like a pipedream.
"Melanie is a wonderful person," Bruce tells the camera. "I understand what is going on in her life. I had three children back when I didn't have a life. Melanie's got opportunities here. She's a great employee. I want to help her in any way I can."
When his identity is revealed, Melanie is pleased to hear Bruce will have more handicap ramps installed in the valet area.
$35,000 is life-changing
"There's something you need to finish," he adds. "I want you to make sure you get your GED. I want to make sure you have time off [to complete the coursework] and have a babysitter. You'll make me proud just like you're my own daughter."
In addition to $10,000 to subsidize her study expenses and medical bills, he gives her $10,000 for her dream wedding and $15,000 to put away for a college fund for her daughter. (Melanie is now a full-time employee with full benefits.)
"My biggest fear is gone," Melanie said. "I'm going to have health care. $35,000 is life-changing. For it to happen to me, I'm very thankful."