US Air Force Veteran Finds Success in Franchising

In honor of Veteran’s Day on Saturday, Nov. 11, @OurFranchise is highlighting former veterans-turned-franchisees who are making an impact on the community. Meet Ron Kendall, President of Buffalo Lodging Associates, a multi-unit franchisee of Marriott International and Hilton Hotels.

 

Buffalo Lodging Associates President Ron Kendall.

By Andrew Parker

Ron Kendall found his path to success through the franchise business model as a multi-unit franchisee of various Marriott International and Hilton Hotels brands following a stint in the U.S. Air Force. Now the President of Canton, Mass.-based hotel and management development company Buffalo Lodging Associates, Kendall spent four years in the Air Force following high school and developed an interest in flying. After completing college and passing the written and skills tests to become an Air Force pilot, he hit a roadblock in failing the physical due to a high school football injury that never healed properly, causing concern about his ability to breathe properly with an oxygen mask.

 

The unfortunate break didn’t discourage Kendall, who started his franchising career at a local Holiday Inn, working as a waiter, bartender, desk agent, night manager and food/beverage manager. In the process, he gained a real interest in the hotel industry. “I enjoyed the creativity, problem solving, meeting new people and general planning that went into a successful hotel operation,” he explained. That led to a general manager position in 1978.  After completing his MBA, he joined Holiday Inns, Inc. as District Director based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Three years later, Kendall was transferred to Memphis to serve as the Multi-Unit Owner Liaison and Director of the hotel’s construction and renovation department. In 1984, he became Vice President of Franchise Operations and Development in Chicago. “That position exposed me to the full panoply of skills and opportunities of the successful developers,” he recalls.

 

In 1987, Kendall joined Diversified Hotel Management, and after that small Boston-based hotel group was sold, he received a call about an opportunity to partner with two businessmen to establish a new hotel management company. Over the next few years, the group built and purchased four hotels. In 1995, after the sale of the three hotels under a REIT and the retirement of one of the two business partners, Kendall and his other business partner started Buffalo Lodging Associates, expanding the business from a single hotel to a current 46 hotels, primarily with the Marriott International and Hilton brands, including Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inns, Homewood Suites and TownePlace Suites.

 

Franchising has been a large part of Kendall’s career achievements. “I found opportunities for franchisees while I was with Holiday Inns, Inc., and I find my own opportunities now that I am on the other side of the desk,” he said. The experience and possibilities generated from the franchise business model have given Kendall the tools to succeed early in his career, and later as President of a hotel group.

 

Ron Kendall in 1965 during his USAF days.

 

‘Who is More Deserving?’

In addition to donating time and resources to local charities, helping community programs by providing rooms and equipment for town governments, local schools, fire departments and police, Kendall does his part to assist former military personnel. Buffalo Lodging Associates provides complimentary guest rooms for veterans that require hospitalization and surgery related to spinal injuries in the Buffalo, N.Y. area, part of an effort tied to the Wounded Warrior Project. He said that it’s especially important to support veterans who are truly motivated to serve their country. “It is the individuals who want to serve that I believe really deserve all the assistance we can provide them, particularly today,” he noted.

 

“To join the military and serve in today’s war-torn parts of the world is by all measures a courageous act,” Kendall added. “The physical, financial and emotional sacrifice is impossible to measure for veterans and their families, both during and after their service. If we do not give back to veterans, then who is more deserving?”

 

Andrew Parker is Editor-in-Chief of Franchising World magazine and IFA's Senior Manager of Publishing. Find out more about programs for Veterans seeking careers in franchising, visit IFA’s VetFran Program at www.vetfran.com.