In the past several years, Holladay Properties has continued to enrich the Northwest Indiana Region and Chicagoland area with state-of-the-art developments.
One branch of the business that has seen a remarkable amount of growth is Holladay’s hospitality division. The common thread winding through that progress? Team members Duffey Phelps and Steve Laird.
While both men are still semi-rookies to Holladay, they have spearheaded the hospitality division’s continued growth. In 2014, when Phelps first joined the team, there were four hotels in Holladay’s ledger. Now, just four years later, Holladay boasts 12 hotels, with another three opening the first half of 2019 and another six in development for the next 18 months.
Both Laird and Phelps oversee Holladay’s WoodSpring Suites hotel portfolio. When the company developed a plan to open a crop of 15 hotels within the Chicagoland area, leaders wanted to assemble an all-star team. Phelps had developed a relationship with the company, starting with a summer internship and soon taking on the WoodSpring Suites project. Laird previously worked as Director of Operations for the WoodSpring brand.
“I met Tim Healy (Holladay Properties COO) at a conference about four years ago and learned he was from my same hometown of Valparaiso,” Laird said.
The choice for Laird to pursue a job with Holladay became obvious.
“I dealt with many fantastic franchisees in my time with WoodSprings, but the Holladay team, specifically Duffey Phelps and Ryan Kelly, stood head and shoulders above the rest in terms of professionalism and knowledge, and I had a desire to work with the best people,” he said.
As Project Manager of the WoodSprings project, Laird’s role includes being the owners’ representative during construction to help ensure quality, to supervise budget projects within construction timelines, and to liaise with the Management companies used for operations once the projects are completed.
As Project Developer and Vice President of Hospitality, Phelps deals with similar responsibilities and comes up with growth models, strategies of expanding, operating models, and benchmarking properties.
“We vet all of our projects at the highest level. We make sure that we’re growing opportunistically, but not recklessly,” Phelps said. “We have a good process to make sure we’re building consciously.”
While both men fulfill their titles wonderfully, neither is defined by those titles alone.
“If there’s a project you want to pursue, you’re encouraged to pursue it,” Phelps said.
“My company has faith that what I’m doing will add value to our company. With our ultimate goal of 15 WoodSpring hotels, that’s a daunting challenge, but I’ve been given everything I need to see it through.”
Besides their successful teamwork, the pair notices a lot of other factors that continue to put Holladay on the map.
“I’ve seen an incredibly strong commitment to continued development and growth in the hospitality division,” Laird said.
“I can say that my experience here, from day one, has been impacted by the positive way Holladay treats our employees, all the way from the top to bottom,” Phelps added. “I think it really rings true that if you’re treating your employees well, they will treat their guests well.”
The best hospitality companies thrive on positive reviews and guest loyalty. Holladay makes a point of encouraging an exemplary experience.
“We have excellent Trip Advisor ratings, and that really speaks to asset management oversight,” Phelps said. “We put an emphasis on doing things the right way. We’re in this to build long-term value at these properties. Part of instilling that value is treating the guests well, and that’s reflected in our Trip Advisor scores.
Phelps and Laird are proud of all the success they’ve seen so far, but they’re even more excited to see what comes next.
“I continue to be passionate about the quality we provide guests, and the operating results of the properties,” Laird said. “Holladay Properties will continue to maintain its focus on quality hotels and continued dedication to taking care of guests at a high level.”
“Our slogan is, ‘Doing it the Right Way with Integrity and Trust,’” Phelps said. “It works, and it’s a great place to come to work every day. I have great faith that we’re building really great hotels.”
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