40 Years and Still Dreaming
When we started New Castle 40 years ago, we realized that we needed to do something to stand out from other, bigger companies. We did not have the track record of success, the reputation, portfolio or funds to use to immediately attract the “best and brightest”. What we did have was a vision, core values and a desire to build a culture and the best company we could. For many of the key players who helped us build this company, that vision and those values mirrored their own, so they took a chance with us.
So, we were respectful. We asked for input and used it because we knew we hired well, and we believed that everyone had something to contribute. Other companies might have been bigger or paid better, but we treated everyone with dignity and gave people a chance to grow. We did a lot of internal promotion. It quickly became clear that being ourselves and walking our talk was our strategy and our differentiator.
We believed that if we built a place where people felt respected and valued, that we would attract hospitality professionals at every level – great people who wanted to make a difference. And we were right. Our team has always been second to none; a talented group of individuals with an understanding of our vision/culture and how to live it. They have grown within the company to become 20+-year associates, managers, general managers and corporate executives, such as myself.
When the term ‘culture’ came into the business lexicon and more and more companies began to realize that a positive work environment, and a set of core beliefs mattered to associates and potential new hires, we were ahead of the game.
Today, we are proud to say that our senior corporate office directors, executives and regional team members average 21+ years with New Castle – and none of them started out as senior staff. Seventy percent of our GMs have risen through the ranks to earn their positions. Johnathan Henderson, the Banquet Manager at the Hilton Lexington started out as a banquet houseperson. Our Corporate Director of Human Resources, Daniela Burga started her career at a front desk, our Vice President of Corporate Accounting, Anna Barker was an accounts payable clerk. And the list goes on.
In spite of all that, many people outside of our industry only see entry level jobs, without realizing that our associates are eligible for promotion within their first year. Hospitality employees earn management positions in only five years on average, versus seven years for other industries, and those promotions come with one of the nation’s highest pay increases. The American Hotel & Lodging Association, (AH&LA) has launched an awareness initiative, Dreams Happen Here to help government officials, potential associates and the public at large understand the economic and social value of the hospitality industry to our society. Hospitality supports 8.3 million American jobs and contributes $660 billion to the US GDP.
Regardless of your skills, training or talents, there’s likely to be a good match for you in the hospitality field and a strong prospect for a lifelong career if making people feel welcome and comfortable and safe is important to you. As part of the team that established New Castle Hotels, I am proud to be part of this company and the culture envisioned at the very beginning – a company where dreams have been coming true for 40 years.
Vice President Human Resource