Owning Your Results - Hector Sanchez - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 132

Dan Ryan: Today's guest is an experienced executive who has a history of driving brands to success. He's a skilled hospitality pro who knows the secrets to pulling off a successful project.

He's the head of development for Ashford Incorporated, and he's the CEO of Premier, a subsidiary of Ashford. Ladies and gentlemen, Hector Sanchez. Welcome Hector.

Hector Sanchez: Thanks a lot, Dan. Thanks a lot for having me on your

Dan Ryan: Yeah. Thanks for coming. Um, I just wanted to kind of tee up the origin story of how we came to be at this moment. Um, I've had one guest that I did two full interviews with. It was like a repeat and I hope to do it more because as the industry has changed and um, things change and the landscape and the customers and the guests and everything is always in flux.

It's nice to do a check in and I've been doing this for two years, but uh, but Chris Green, was an early, early guest, and I really enjoyed having him so much. And then the pandemic, and, um, Chesapeake getting acquired by Remington, and that whole, uh, merger, it was a really interesting story. So I wanted to have him on next, and by way of that, um, I found you, and...

I just, and I, we, I'd love to get into sharing with everyone how all of those parts kind of intermix. Um, but I first, I would just want to say, thank you for coming and, and, uh, being a part of this to let us all know about who you are and why you do what you do, but thank you.

Hector Sanchez: Awesome. Yes, absolutely, Dan.

Dan Ryan: because I think this will be a great thread. I asked one question of everyone, which is, what does hospitality mean to you, or how do you define hospitality, Hector? And let's use that as a point of departure, because You know, Asher is a hospitality company and all of the arms underneath it and subsidiaries are so, but for you on a personal level, Hector, how do you define hospitality?

Hector Sanchez: I think it's about serving people, right? It's about serving people and creating experiences, very unique experiences for people, something that they can create an experience that they can go back and talk to their friends about their family about. It's really about that.

Dan Ryan: I love that. Um, and again, what I found in all these conversations, there's no, there's no right or wrong answer, but around that idea of service and a unique experience or something experiential, that really. Resonates and hits home and comes up a lot. And I think that's actually a great departure in the sense that for what, for what you and your whole team at Premiere does, um, I think that you guys are unique within our industry because you do project management, you do design, you do procurement, you do all those things that can help a developer or an owner either.

Under the umbrella of Ashford or other, um, have an idea, come up with a concept and really execute. And I think that that's pretty unique, especially with the scale of what Ashford brings to the table, but also everyone else out there. So, so tell us a little bit about what makes you and your team at Premiere unique.

Hector Sanchez: Yeah, thanks, Dan. Um, you know, I would add to the three lists of services that you offer, we also have architecture. And I believe we have about 16, maybe 17 architects on staff. These are, uh, people that are licensed in almost every state in the U. S. So very, very, uh, experienced people. Uh, so yeah, like you mentioned, right.

We have, uh, we have interior designs, we have architects, project managers, construction managers. Um, we also have, uh, procurement folks, right. We have an engineering team. We have a, um. We also have a contracts team, right? So we have a heck of a lot more resources than most companies do really outta necessity, right?

Because as you mentioned, because we're part of the, of the ownership, right? Of an ownership group that owns 117 hotels, you end up needing quite a bit of staff, uh, to be able to work on all these different projects and, um, and yeah, so, so we, we have all of that in house. We make that readily available. To all of the third party clients that we work with, you know, in addition, of course, to, uh, taking care of all of the Ashford properties as well.

So I think that's one of the things that probably makes us very unique. Uh, in addition to that, I would say specifically in the project management side, we have, uh, I believe we have probably 33 or 34 people in the project management, just in our project management team and within that team, we have a very diverse experience.

So we have a team within that team that I'm going to call them. That's our kind of ground up and redevelopment. So on that team, everyone that's on that team is what I call a recovering architect, right? So these are architects, licensed architects that have decided to go into the project management world, which is very, very helpful.

Then we have another side of it, uh, where, where, you know, we have a lot of construction manager experience, people that came from general contractors, people that were superintendents, uh, which gives us the ability. And there's where I think it's very unique. It gives us ability, uh, when you have a project and you have certain issues on projects, it gives us the ability in house to go in and potentially replace the general contractor.

If there's too many issues, which as you know, Dan, it's very, very costly to do it mid. You know, mid project, right? You go and, and you try to hire another general contractor to the place, the place, the one you currently have. It's very expensive because you're having them take on the liabilities of what the other general contractor did.

So it ends up being a heck of a lot more expensive. We have, unfortunately have had to do that, uh, in a number of occasions where we've come in. To take over projects midway.

Dan Ryan: that's actually a really, uh, to go on to. Like when you were defining your idea of hospitality, this kind of unique experience, and I've always found whenever I speak to, um, people who are more on the construction side or like open, the actual opening of the hotel, um, we're in hospitality. We are, but we also have to drive to get it done.

Right? So. And I think that's really interesting that you can take over a relationship when it's gone sour and still keep it going. But how do you balance that so that your clients, your stakeholders, whether it's Ashford or outside, and does that happen when you do do that? Is that mostly on with outside clients or from within Ashford, first of all?

And second of all, from a hospitality perspective, how do you... Make sure that everyone's still having a positive experience, even though you're just like, oh, shit, what just happened? We got to get the, we got to get back on track.

Hector Sanchez: I think to answer your first question, the answer is yes. It's both, right? It's for Ashford and third party clients. And to answer your second question, You know, I, I have, um, so I don't know if you remember this, Dan, but I actually came from the oil and gas industry. Right. Um, and, and you know, that's my background.

I was there for 17 years. I've now been in the hospitality industry for about three and a half years. And, you know, I feel that the best relationships I have built with customers throughout my career has been actually when things have gone bad. You're always going to have issues on projects. To me, it's just about how do you react to those issues?

Do you just hide from them? Do you ignore the calls or do you rise up and it's kind of all hands on deck? Uh, and, and, and that's really, I think that's what we're about, right? We're going to own it. We're not going to point fingers. Um, we're, we're, we're going to do whatever we possibly can to make it right.

Right. Even though many times, you know, and, and a lot of times it's not even technically our fault, but if there's something within the resources that we have, either at Premier and or Ashford, which I've done both. is I will pull on them and I will make sure that we put our best resources, uh, to this. So I think the customers really appreciate that.

I think clients really appreciate the way we own things. Uh, we had a situation where one client here, uh, a while back where, you know, the GC, um, didn't do what they were supposed to do. They started getting back on track. We had, you know, our senior vice president, a few directors, project managers on site the next day, right?

And, and this was, you know, in a, in a different state in the Northeast. So we, we do that. I think we tend to own things the way very few people do. And I think it's also because we're part, you know, we're also owners of hotels ultimately. We're part of an ownership company.

Dan Ryan: I think, so something that's resonating with me here is that, um, Okay, so I provide custom furniture to hotels and resorts all over the place, um, with a company called Berman Falk. When I talk to people in the residential world who provide to retailers, big box or smaller through dealers, if things are late, they'll have a residential client who's like, oh, okay, well, it'll be another six or 12 weeks before I get that 12, 000 sofa or whatever they wanted in their house.

Um, but it's interesting on, I think what makes what we do on in the hotel side and also from the, your oil and gas experience, actually, this is what made me think of this is. If that hotel doesn't open, it really affects the financial performance of an asset, and while we're not saving lives, right, we're not saving lives, it really affects a whole bunch of stakeholders and community and locales, so I call that, when things do go sideways, I think one of the things that's helped us be successful, and what I'm hearing you, is um, I call it entering the danger, right, it's like that uncomfortable conversation that no one wants to have, but it's like, Being the first one to say, look, we have a problem.

We all had a role in it. Maybe mine was a little bit more than yours or a different way, but let's come up with a solution. Um, can you share an experience of whether from your former life in oil and gas or current life in hospitality, where you may have been resistant to wanting to have that uncomfortable conversation because of the stakeholders, but then you're like, you know what, this is going to help us.

Build a relationship and shine, like you said earlier, when things go wrong.

Hector Sanchez: you know, one of the ones that comes to mind for me, so in 2013, they moved me And I'll mention one about oil and gas, and I can mention one about hospitality.

You know, in 2013, they moved me and my wife to Mexico. Right? When I was in oil and gas, I worked for this big national company. And, uh, multinational company. And they moved me to oil and gas. They moved me down to Mexico to run our Mexico... And Central America operations. So eventually I became the area manager, country manager for those, for, for, for a few, a few of those countries down there.

And I remember we had an issue on an offshore rig with Pemex, right? Pemex is the, the, the oil and gas company, the national oil. Company of, of Mexico. And there was an offshore rig. We had, uh, we had an issue with one of the tools that we had on site. Uh, long story short, the two didn't open and, uh, you know, offshore rigs.

They're expensive. You know, every day that you're down, it could be 250, 000 a day to a million dollar cost a day, a day that you're down on that rate and you're not able to, you know, to continue. We had an issue. So, uh, I, I won't mention the company's name. So in Mexico, I was at National Oil Varco. We didn't, our contracts weren't directly with Pemex because we weren't a service provider, we were just a tool provider.

So we would always have to go through these contracts of these big service companies like Schlumberger, Halliburton, one of those big companies. And, um, the main guy in Pemex called a meeting for Saturday morning. Right. Invi Hermosa. And, uh, you know, we were at FOD, even though we weren't completely at FOD, there was definitely some, something that we had at FOD.

And I remember going into that meeting. I was like, Oh, this is not going to be fun. Right. This is not going to be a fun conversation. His rig's been down for a few days. And I remember going in there and, you know, and he looks at me like, okay, like we have this too. What do you have to say? Right. And they wanted to see the, the, the main guy in Mexico, which for that company was, was myself.

And I said, you know, I said, look, I said, we screwed up. I said, this is what happened. So I started telling them, I said, look, we take responsibility. And these are the things that we're going to do to make sure we no longer have this issue. So right at that moment, he looks at me and then he looks at the service provider that was there and he starts going off on them.

And he tells them, you know, Bleep, bleep, bleep. Um, how many issues have you had? You have never came in my office and owned it the way he just did. You have never come, you're always finger pointing at other people. You don't own anything. So it turned into he jumped all over them and just kind of let me just go on about our way and we solved the issue and we came through and everything was great. So that, so that, that was an interesting experience, you know? Um, so yeah, I just learned you just have to own things, you know, and take ownership of things. Don't go around pointing the finger, right. And, and just take the responsibility for what you've done and then put a plan forward on what you're going to do to fix it and to make sure it never happens again.

And I learned that very, uh, Uh, you know, I learned that kind of earlier in my career, which, which I think has paid dividends.

Dan Ryan: do the same, but in your more recent experience of hospitality, what's an example of that where you've. Kind of owned it and then everyone is for the better at the end of it.

Hector Sanchez: You know, there was a situation with, with one of our customers, one of the big, actually one of the big REITs. Uh, it was in Ashford, it was, it was a different REIT and, um, there was some issues with a general contractor that we were working on. I won't, I won't name them. Uh, we no longer do any work with them.

I'll, we'll say that. And there was an issue with a general contractor and, and I remember the main guy. Uh, you know, from, from that read, um, was, was on a call and it was, I believe it was like a Thursday night, Wednesday night or something like that. And, uh, you know, and, and we're having a video call kind of like we are right now.

And him and I, and my team were the only ones on video, right. And the general contractor was not on video, right. He was kind of so, you know, and we weren't pointing fingers. We were. state in the facts and trying to come up with solutions. And, um, and, and, and, you know, and, and the, the gentleman, the main guy at that, at that REIT got very upset because his thought was here's the CEO of this company.

He is. It was like nine, 10 at night. I don't remember. It was super late. I'm on a call. I jumped within, he told me like 20 minutes before if I could jump on a call. I said, absolutely. And I made sure that my team was on that call. And, and these guys, one of them, uh, the CEO wouldn't even. Wouldn't have was, it wouldn't have been bother, would, he was out at dinner or something.

He wouldn't bother to call. And I literally dropped everything that I was doing to make sure that we addressed the issues that were happening. Uh, and it was the one that I told you, you know, the, the, the next, no, actually that, that morning already. We already had, we are, we had our senior vice president or project manager.

We had our director, we had a project managers. So it was kind of all hands on deck from our side. Um, even though that project didn't go well, um, you know, the, the, the, the client came back and gave us more work, right? Because he understood these guys own it, right? Things are going to happen. They always do in every single job.

Uh, but we really own it and we ended up getting more work out of it, even though it wasn't. It wasn't our best moment.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, and for you to Share and be vulnerable with them like hey, this isn't our best moment, but this is what we're gonna do I always for a little while before the pandemic I started getting into some Jiu jitsu, I started practicing doing that stuff and what was really cool about it What I love is you knew you were in a good spot when there was no space between you and your opponent, right?

You knew exactly And, um, I find that is also in difficult situations. It's like running at the danger. You're eliminating all space and all misunderstanding and it, it requires some vulnerability on our parts, but also understanding. on the client's parts. But the sooner we can get to the place where there's no space, um, I think we're all for the better for it.

Because then we can all, there's no misunderstandings, there's no inference, and then we can all plot a course forward, right? To get out of that unfortunate circumstance like you, like you shared. Um, so if we were to just step back and now let's look at oil and gas and hospitality, Two very different industries, but also financial assets, right?

And schedule and time matter. Um, in making this transition, what do you appreciate the most about hospitality? Like, why are you glad you made that decision to where you are now?

Hector Sanchez: You know, then I had a very, uh, I'll tell you why I initially made the decision that I'll tell you what I'm, that I'm still extremely happy and excited that, you know, that I made the, the decision to transfer over the reason I made the decision. So they reached out to me about the job and initially, you know, and I wasn't looking at leaving oil and gas.

I'd been there my entire career and I had a very good role where I was. They reached out to me and my initial thought was I'm an oil and gas. I like, what, what in the world am I going to go do in hospitality? And the more and more I talk to them about the opportunity and not even the opportunity, but some of the challenges and really, and what they really needed out of this role, I realized, well, it's actually been exactly the same thing I've been doing for my career for at least a good 10 years.

And you know, what kind of sold me on it is I had a very unique, uh, had a very unique experience during my interviewing process, where I interviewed with some of the folks that would eventually report to me. Right. One of those people were, was Carla Niemann, which is my, you know, my, my SVP of interior design.

Another one was Johannes Mikulski, which was, was our senior vice president of project management. We've not promoted him over all of operations. And then another one was Mike Funk. He was over contracts and now he's over contracts in engineering. And I'll tell you what, Dan, people in oil and gas like their job, right?

People ultimately, there's some people that like their job more than others. But seeing the passion that this team had when I was talking to them about their job and albeit this is like April 2020, right? It is the middle of the pandemic. It couldn't get any worse. And you could still see the passion and the drive and the love that they had for this industry.

Where I told myself, I have to be a part of that. Like that is just something like, you know, that, that you don't find everywhere. And to me it was just that. Um, and now fast forward to where I'm at now, I mean, that just proved out to be the case, right? Is people love what they do. They love serving people.

They love creating experiences. Uh, uh, people are a little nicer or a lot nicer.

Dan Ryan: for those of you who are, for those of you who are just listening and not watching, Like, I'm literally, as he's, as he's saying, as Hector's saying this, I'm smiling ear to ear, because... I think what you just made a light bulb go off in my head of like why I'm doing this podcast. I think for within our industry or just this idea of hospitality.

It's so, nothing is easy, but it's so easy to get to that place where people light up and express their passion within our, within our world. And I thank you. So you, uh, that idea of proving it out, um, I didn't know what's keeping me doing this, but it's like, it's, it's such a joy and such like a. A nerve to an exposed nerve of joy and passion that, uh, it's just, it makes doing these conversations like an incredible, um, I don't know, it just, it's, I just find it so rewarding, but thank you, thank you for

Hector Sanchez: No, it's amazing.

Dan Ryan: And I get to, and I get to learn from others and change my, my, my perspective. So I really thank you for that, man. Um, Okay, now I'm writing that down because I'm also writing a book right now and this will thank you So aside from being CEO at Premiere, you're also head of development for Ashford, right?

Hector Sanchez: That is correct.

Dan Ryan: so and in in that you're putting deals together. You're finding debt. You're finding equity Hopefully, I guess you would probably be using your team at Premiere to help Birth all of those projects, so to speak, um, but we're in a challenging inflationary interest rate. Like there's a lot of headwinds right now.

So going into tapping into that passion for you with all the headwinds coming at you, um, what keeps you getting up and doing that and like lighting your fire for that despite all the macro headwinds going on now?

Hector Sanchez: honestly, I know it's going to sound kind of cliche, but I really love it, right? I love a challenge, right? Um, coming from oil and gas, we have downturns over there every other year. I felt like, um, here is like every few years. I can deal with that all day long, right? Um, I thrive in it. I like the competition of it.

Um, I think for us, we're in a very, um, Uh, unique situation, right? As, as head of development for Ashford, because we have the two REITs, right? And, and the two REITs, um, one of them has a pretty good balance sheet. The other one does as well, but we're looking at doing some, some, some, some pay downs on some debt, et cetera.

So we're a little bit more careful, but in, and we're also chasing a lot of deals that have public incentives. Right, whether call it tax increment financing or some type of historical tax credit, uh, deal that ultimately end up requiring a lot less equity. So we can go about it that way. And then we're also talking to external, uh, uh, investors.

Uh, but the nice thing about, you know, being at a company like Ashford is, is typically, you know, most, uh, uh, GP partners or, or, or most GP, right, most developers want to put in, you know, 5, 10 percent of the deal. The nice thing for us is we can afford to put quite a bit more than that, which gives equity investors a comfort level as well, like we have skin in the game.

Um, so, so yeah. And then on the debt side, um, you know, it's the same thing on that side, right? As we have very strong relationships with a lot of, um, you know, with, with, with a lot of lenders, there's a particular project right now that we're actually working on, we're redeveloping. Uh, um, uh, old historic building here in Fort Worth.

Um, you know, and I remember the lender, you know, on that, the senior lender on that, I remember he, he sent me a voicemail and we've since become friends. We had a, uh, we've had some, some issues on that one. And you know, the, the lender sent me, you know, he called me and left me a voicemail and then we went out to dinner and stuff.

And he, you know, one of the things that he mentioned, he said, Hector, he said, I've been doing this a long time. He said, the way your team at Premier and Ashford just really take ownership of things and you guys want to do what's right. He said, it's very hard to find. So with that, you know, we're already talking to him where a lot of other lenders are not making any loans on any future projects.

We're talking to him about being a lender on some of our other projects as well that we're doing. And to me, it's, it's a relationship thing, right? And you end up showing people, you know, your true colors when things don't go well and you end up building some very good relations. People want to work with people they like, and they trust.


Dan Ryan: And again, that like, and the trust oftentimes comes out of those. I call them the crucibles of, uh, of the whoopses or the, Oh, what are we going to do? And the limit getting rid of that space between, um, as you are on your course now doing the development and also CEO or premier, and you look at.

That team of, I think you said Carla, Carlos and Mike and all the other ones, but they were the ones that like you could tap into their passion, so to speak. Right. Um, look with that passionate lens, um, what's exciting you most about what you're seeing out there in the future from your, from the seat you're in now.

Hector Sanchez: I, I think it's just our growth opportunities, right? I love building, I love growing, you know, one of the things then that I haven't mentioned is, you know, before I came in 2020, you know, one of the main things that they wanted for me to do here at Premier was for us to grow our third party business.

Right. We had never done any third party business before in 2019. And before we have never done a single job, third party business, everything was just for

Dan Ryan: and then just for the, for the listeners who don't know what third party means, just give us the, a tweet, not a blog on, on what the, what a, what a third party project manager is.

Hector Sanchez: Okay. So, um, more than a third party project manager, I meant really a third party, um, ownership

Dan Ryan: Third party

Hector Sanchez: Right. So, yeah, yeah. So I was referring to, we used to just do things for our ownership group and now we've gone to other customers. outside of just that primary ownership group that where we used to do 100 percent of our work.

Right. So fast forward to a right now where we had nothing. I think now we have over 80 contracts that we've signed in the last three and a half years. Um, so that's definitely exciting. Um, we have, uh, an architecture team in house as well. We had a very, very tiny, we had a, literally a couple of people that would help us do some drawings and some stuff when I came on board.

Now we've brought over Patrick Burke, um, and he's. And, and, you know, and, and, uh, quite a few of, of the team that he used to have at his own firm, uh, you know, ended up following him here as well. Um, you know, we have a development team that's ran by Rex Tulios. He was a president, uh, of, of another development firm.

I think just our growth potential, uh, as you know, Dan as well is, you know, uh, Ashford used to do a hundred percent hotels. Well, now Premier started doing a bunch of multifamily work. We just acquired our first multifamily, uh, as an owner, uh, uh, you know, a more multifamily property in San Antonio about two months ago.

So we're looking at diversifying our portfolio. So to me, I feel like we're literally just scratching at the surface. And I feel like the opportunities. Are endless for Premier, right? Because we can do hotels. We're actually looking at doing self storage and multi family and potentially some light industrial so we can continue to diversify and grow and not just at Premier but at the Ashford level as

Dan Ryan: so I've always thought, I've thought about this a lot, like for me, mostly coming from the FF& E world. Um, you know, there's always, if, if someone, if a small ownership group wanted to renovate a hotel or acquire and reposition or build a new one, um, typically they hire. All third party people to get that done.

Um, third and they're all, we're all, they're all stakeholders in the success of that project, but whereas Ashford, as I think you said, they have 117 hotels or you have 117 hotels at the beginning from your experience, as far as like an eye, like an ideal customer. When, at what point would an ownership group from a scale, like, there's not many with 117 hotels in a portfolio, but you know, there's some with 1 to 10, there's some with 10 to 20, again, at what point does it make sense To bring that all of those elements are certain parts of those elements in the house.

Like from a scale point of view, I always look at like if a hotel is renovating every seven years, I did like some back of the envelope thing once where I was like, okay, well, if there's an ownership group that has 30 to maybe 50 hotels, they could support a team like that. That's doing it. But then it's also taking them out of their specialization, which is.

Owning, just being owning financial assets or commercial real estate in the hotel segment. So like at what, from your experience back at the envelope, or at what point does a, do you find that ownership groups would bring many of these functions inside?

Hector Sanchez: I have not seen it. Personally, I haven't seen an ownership group that has done this. Um, one and then two, it's, we're, we're ultimately, we're an independent company. Right? Premier is a standalone independent company that is owned by Ashford Inc. Right? And then the two reads Braymore Hotels and Resorts and Ashford Hospitality are the ones that actually own the hotels, right?

But Ashford Inc. just owns service companies kind of like Remington Hospitality. But I have not seen a single, I haven't seen any ownership group that has done what we've done. So I'm not sure when it actually makes sense to do

Dan Ryan: Yeah, well, that's, that's really interesting because I've seen ownership groups that might have inside project management, they might have

Hector Sanchez: that, Dan. Exactly, they might have one or...

Dan Ryan: Yeah, general, uh, but I've never seen it where all of

Hector Sanchez: We're all different. Yeah. I just, I just haven't seen it either. Um, you know, I, I, what I have seen is that a lot of ownership groups, You know, and, and some of the management companies as well, they'll have like, they do design and project management and some of these things, but then when you actually start like talking to them, it's a, it's a person over design that hires outside design firms, inter design firms, or a project manager sometimes They definitely do in house project management.

And when it, when, when it exceeds, uh, you know, uh, w w w w when it exceeds their, their, their capacity, then they'll start hiring other project managers to help them out on some of the smaller projects. Um, yeah. So I just, I, I don't know when it actually makes sense to do that. I think project management. Is the one that comes to mind that might ensure design and, uh, you know, the, the, as you know, as you well know, Dan, the, the brands have very specific requirements and approval process, et cetera, for you to go through that and for them to actually give, uh, two or three person team, uh, a lot of those approvals for all these different brand types.

I think it's, it gets a little bit

Dan Ryan: So then let's, let's think of that as a, okay, so you have everyone in house and then you, if you're doing like a new, Independent hotel, you acquire it for yourselves or you're doing it as a third party And you may and you have your own team of interior designers and architects and engineers and you can execute all of that Do you ever bring in like what outside? consultants do you ever bring in i'm almost thinking like sometimes it's nice to get a branding company from outside that can look at it fresh and set up like the brand pillars and the goal. And then, then you guys can execute on that. Like, how do you, how do you balance that to like, to keep your product fresh, so to speak?

Hector Sanchez: Um, I think, uh, that is twofold. I think, you know, so we have, we actually have quite a few conversions that we're doing right now. Right. So we're converting, uh, um, Mr. C's in Beverly Hills to cameo. That's going to be a Hilton. Uh, we're converting, uh, in La Concha, we're converting that one to an autograph.

We're converting La Pav in, in, um, in New Orleans to. So we have, and we've converted, we converted the notary back in the day from a courtyard, uh, notary in, in, uh, in Philadelphia from a courtyard to an autograph as well. So we've, we have quite a bit of experience. However, we do know what we're good at and what we're don't, you know, to your point, every single one of those projects, we've hired an outside, uh, uh, branding firm.

Right on those soft brands. Uh, we definitely hire an outside, uh, branding firm for those. Um, there's also, um, We're, we're, we're converting an old office building in San Antonio to an autograph as well. We've hired a branding firm there. That's what actually a third party, uh, customer of ours. Um, we, we, we have Carla Neiman, our interior design SVP.

She's done a very good job in setting up her team in such a way because Ashford owns, and we do all of that on house, Ashford owns from Courtyard to Ritz Carlton. Right, like right now we're doing the Ritz Carlton and

Dan Ryan: Yeah. We're working with you on that one. Thank you.

Hector Sanchez: yeah, perfect. And then, you know, we're also doing, uh, we're, we're, uh, we're doing, uh, some townhomes at the Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe as well.

We're doing some ground up townhomes, which hopefully will break ground here in May of this year. Um, so we're doing all of that interior design in house. Um, so, you know, some of the things that we'll hire consultants for definitely landscape architects. We always hire a landscape architect for that. Um, on the architecture side, um, you know, before Patrick was here, we used to hire, uh, uh, some architecture firms.

For example, if we're working in St. Thomas, but he's done a very good job of getting licensed in quite a few of these other places that he wasn't already licensed in. So hopefully, when we're moving forward, we won't hire a lot of outside architects. Uh, it's been, it's been painful working with some of these, honestly.

Um... Sometimes we'll hire F& B consultants, even though we have somebody here named Barbara Carlson. Uh, she's one of our vice presidents in interior design. Uh, she's kind of like the F& B person that we have here, but at times we might go outside,

Dan Ryan: I, think it's interesting to get those, like to freshen it up because we're all good. Like your whole team is really good at what they do. They're excellent at what they do, but because the marketplace and the, and the. And the consumer and all of the stakeholders are always evolving. Whatever got us to where we are at this moment.

It's not going to get us there. So there's other people who are always on that forward edge of experimenting with, from technology to design, to materials, to menus. Um, I've just been surprised over the past year. Um, especially with a lot of this, the rise of the soft brands and the independence, how incredibly important a branding company is like that.

I, I might've just been blind to it, but to me, I think, uh, people are really starting to realize how they can really. understand what the outcomes are, and then establish a narrative and a story that they want to tell. And then, architects, designers, um, landscape architects, F& B folks, it's like, it's almost like the song sheet that creates alignment, right?

It's, it's really, I think it's a really cool development, and it's just really constantly... Honing the story that you want to tell and taking a constantly fresh perspective. Are you, am I coming out of left field there? Are you seeing that as well?

Hector Sanchez: No, no, no, absolutely. I think, you know, I, I mean, I'll just mention, I think 1650, we do quite a bit of work with them. The gentleman out of California, uh, they've done

Dan Ryan: Okay.

Hector Sanchez: They're kind of our go to, uh, folks for most of these projects. Uh, but yeah, they, they've done an excellent job right

Dan Ryan: and, and in oil and gas, oil and gas, you're not hiring a branding company to, to make a new rig, right?

Hector Sanchez: no, we're hiring a branding company to give a product, a new name. That's about it.

Dan Ryan: exactly. Okay. So, so then going with that, so in oil and gas, you're building. Refineries, you're building rigs. You're building, you're building just a lot of infrastructure projects and there's a lot of zeros associated with them. In hospitality, you're building countless things as well, uh, from restaurants to hotels, to, um, convention centers, whatever it may be.

Um, from like using that brand, the idea of a branding company that's different between the two, um, what's another element of hospitality that you. We're surprised to find out that you really love and like, it's, it's just a new experience for you from the idea of delivering hospitality and projects on time.

Hector Sanchez: I would say everything. No, I remember I can give you an example. I remember, um, you know, so I, I walked in here, it was probably my first weekend and you know, and Carla comes in my office and she's like, Hey, um, we should do something different with your office. You know, I'm thinking we should do. You know, what are your thoughts?

And I'm like, look, Carla, I know what I'm good at. I know what I'm not good at. Give me a spreadsheet or I can talk to people. I am terrible. I couldn't even tell you if you should put. You know, that sofa on that corner, unless you put it there, then I'll have an opinion about it. So, you know, she came in and she just did her thing.

And, you know, obviously I, I love it. Um, you know, I, I, I think, I think what surprises me is the creativity, you know, like I was at the Renaissance Nashville, um, here, not that long ago. And, uh, it was, it was a couple of weeks ago. I was at the Renaissance Nashville. We do these quarterly kind of, uh, uh, customer investor lender.

And we have some people from the brand events that we do at Premier. And, uh, you know, I was out there and I was walking through, through, through the lobby and then I was also walking through the meeting space. And I just look at some of the things that they do. I'm like, you could literally give me. 7, 000 years to come up with this much of it.

And I like, for example, they have a container there that you couldn't even tell it was a container till somebody tells you it's a container that they've converted into a bar, right? And you open it up and it's a bar and it's beautiful. It has like this graffiti on it, but it's just like, How do people come up with that?

Like I just, that just my brain, I'm just not built that way, you know? So I think that has definitely been, um, I, I, I think that's just been. I also pay a lot more attention to details on certain things when I go to hotels, which I used to never, right. I usually have my blinders on. I just walk and I just go on about my way and I'll, I do that when I go home.

Right. And then I'm looking for a store and I've literally passed that store like 7, 000 times, never seen it. Right. Uh, now at hotels, I come kind of looking at little different details and, uh, but it's amazing. I think just what these creative, you know, uh, people, the way they think. It's, it's

Dan Ryan: Yeah. And I, and I think within, cause I, I really only know hospitality, but it's, it's, it's kind of interesting. If, if I were to use a hotel, there's always that battle between the engineers and the architects and the designers, right? Whereas I would think from oil and gas, really the engineers are kind of driving the bus because like there, if there's those structures and everything that you're building, there's such a cascading effect.

If, if engineers are not in the front, um, bad things will happen. And whereas. I love how in the hospitality world, it's really connecting all of those things, but also through a guest experience. Um, I also appreciate how you say you're not good at that stuff, as far as what Carla came in and, and, and is helping you do, or all of the other creative energy that you're experiencing from branding to architects, designers, landscape architects, F& B. But when it comes to you, Hector, and as far as the seat you're sitting in, and the teams that you're, you've become a part of, and that you're growing, like, what do you think you're best at?

Hector Sanchez: so I'm definitely not good at what we just talked about. I can come back to give you a very good example of that. Um, you know, I think what I'm best at, I'm think I'm very good at creating teams, right? I think I'm, I'm very good at, at kind of setting the stage to create a very good work culture and work environment.

I think motivating people as well. And, and I would like to think that I'm also good at many times just getting out of the way, you know, um, like given just earlier today, I was on a message with the guy that oversees development and I was asking him on a couple of things. We're headed out to St. Thomas next week, and we're trying to meet with the, we're setting up a meeting on Friday to meet with the governor because we're going to do a ground up development over there.

And, um, you know, I was asking him, Hey, have we done this? Have we done this? Have we done this? He's like, yup, yup, yup. And he's kind of giving me an update and I'm like, okay. So I kind of just joking with them, but half serious. I'm like, okay, I'll just let you be. I'm going to go home and watch Netflix and just let you do your job.

Dan Ryan: hmm. Netflix and chill.

Hector Sanchez: you know, and I'm, I'm, I'm actually an engineer, right? So my background, I'm actually a mechanical engineer. I'd like to say I'm a recovering engineer. Um, and, and I'm decent with numbers, right? It's, you kind of have to be, to be an engineer. So I can, I'm good at problem solving and looking at things, uh, just analytically, uh, and I feel like that's what I'm good at.

You know, I'll come back and I'll tell you a funny story, a very funny story where I just know what I'm not good at. Right. So this is in my own gas days and. Uh, it was two, two marketing people, you know, to marketing the ladies that, you know, part of our division. And I was the vice president of North America at that point, it was a few years ago.

And um, and, and, and we're in a meeting and we're supposedly, they set up a meeting so we could come up with a name for a really cool, innovative, new drilling product that we had came up with. And as soon as I go in, I sit down in the meeting room and I look around and I'm like, I'm like, okay, hey ladies, how's it going?

I'm like, I'm not, I'm like, Danny, I'm like, you're an engineer. Like, yeah, I'll say Keith and Keith used to work with me. I'm like, Hey, you're an engineer. I'm like, yeah. And then our president, I'm like, John, you're an engineer. And then, and then we have actually the guy that's over engineering. I'm like, you're an engineer and I'm an engineer.

And I look at the, I'm like, ladies, I said, if you think we're going to come up with anything good or productive out of this meeting with this group of people we have in this room, you're going to be disappointed. Like we're not the right people. And they're like, no, no, no, it can't be that bad. So literally like four minutes into the conversation where we're coming up with names, right.

And we're literally coming up with names. Uh, that describe exactly what the thing is, which is not marketable. They finally look at me like, you know, Hector, you're absolutely right. You guys are like, cause I'm like, you have a bunch of engineers trying to come up with some creative, like that doesn't work.


Dan Ryan: most of the audience that listens to this is, is, like, it's a highly ranked design, um, podcast on Apple Podcasts, but it tends to be more interior designers, architects, um, So more on that creative side branding. Um, is there truth to what I said? I guess there is truth to what I said about that, the battle between engineering and creative, right?

But they both need each other. Um, what's the most surprising element of that like battle since switching over to hospitality for, for oil and gas battle slash collaboration? Like what are you surprised most about on the creative side? Being an engineer and coming from oil gas into hospitality.

Hector Sanchez: I would say I'm probably most surprised, honestly, by outside insured design firms that we've had to use at times. Um, And, and, and I say that I'm surprised. And I think it's just because here at premiere, we're probably a little bit spoiled at least, you know, looking at things from my perspective is where I feel like many times there's not a huge regard to the budget.

Right. To, to the budget at the end of the day, I'm business, man. We need to stick to a certain budget and that is extremely important. And a lot of times when you work with these Alt Tite, inter design firms, Alt Tite architecture firms is they wanted to sign this. And it's like, but the budget is this right.

And, and, and, and, and it's hard for them to contain that. Um, I think that has probably been. The, the biggest thing, and then I think as well as I think one of the, but number one, I think you're, you're, I think you're absolutely right. There's always a battle, right? Even from an ownership standpoint, the engineer, the architect, um, you know, and then the, the creative side, and even on within our architecture team, we also have.

Uh, like we have a design architect, right? A director of design architecture, which is also very on the creative side. Um, I, I think that's probably been the biggest surprise to me is just, uh, disregard and especially coming from oil and gas and coming from where everything is business, everything is numbers, everything is technical,

Dan Ryan: more zeros.

Hector Sanchez: And a lot more zeros. Like it's just, it, I would say that was probably be the biggest surprising to me of the disconnect. A lot of times from the budget to, to some of the creative side, I think on our side, because we're part of an ownership group, our team does that extremely well. Cause they have to, right.

And, and they've just been trained and Carla has, has her team trained to think that way and to design to the budget. I think that's probably been the biggest. Yeah. Disconnect.

Dan Ryan: Fair enough. Um, you went to University of Houston, which is why you were sharing with me, despite the Rangers winning and you're in, you're in Dallas, you're really a Houston, uh, Astros fan, correct?

Hector Sanchez: Absolutely. Yes.

Dan Ryan: at University of Houston you studied engineering, right?

Hector Sanchez: Mm hmm.

Dan Ryan: If the Hector I'm speaking to right now in your potelet, I'm gonna try and come up with a word.

You're a Recovering engineer. Is that what you called yourself? You're

Hector Sanchez: That,

Dan Ryan: okay. So you're a you're an engineer in recovery for your engineer in recovery that's been like baptized by This whole creative hospitality design world. And you were to magically appear in front of your engineering student self at University of Houston.

What advice do you have for yourself?

Hector Sanchez: you know, I have no earthly idea what I would be telling myself. And, and I'll tell you why. I didn't set out to be an engineer.

Dan Ryan: Really? Why?

What did you set

Hector Sanchez: I didn't, I love business. I love finance. Numbers. I just realized when I started in oil and gas, I was getting my basics. And I realized very quickly Actually, when they were hiring me, there was a bunch of people that came in and talked to us all in management.

Every single one of them were engineers. So I just realized very quickly in oil and gas, your point earlier, the people that are going to make the decisions, the people that have, uh, mostly a future within the organization to continue to, you know, get more responsibility, et cetera. They're all engineers.

So at that moment. I made a decision like, well, I'm good in math. I've always been good at math. I'll just switch, right? And I'm good at remembering stuff. It will be fine. So I made the decision to switch to engineering. So funny story is as soon as I graduated, right? So I did, I did what an engineer does probably three and a half, four years before I actually had an engineering degree, I was side by side with engineers doing, uh, design engineering, which is of course designing drilling tools.

Which is very different than what we design here. As soon as I graduated, they promoted me into management. I think they realized I sucked as an engineer and I was probably a lot better at managing people and getting things done through others. So, so I never, you know, so then that brought me back to the business side very, very

Dan Ryan: Oh, that's funny. Okay. Thank you. That's, uh, I guess, yeah, it's like knowing your limits or, or actually being open minded to others, seeing your strengths and weaknesses and go with your strengths is the moral of the story. I guess. Um,

Hector Sanchez: yeah,

Dan Ryan: uh, Hector, this has been. A really enjoyable conversation, and it's been great getting to know you, and I look forward to getting to know you more over the years to come.

Um... If people wanted to learn more about you, or Premiere, or Ashford, like, what's a good way for them to connect?

Hector Sanchez: yeah. So, um, they can go on our website, which is premierpm. com. Um, and there's a questionnaire there as well as reach out to us through LinkedIn, right? Franklin, uh, Pinerua, he is our chief commercial officer. Uh, reach out to him. He's very, very responsive. Reach out to me on LinkedIn as well. I'm extremely responsive.

Um, and then we have, uh, an entire, uh, uh, business development team as well. That is very, very, uh, active on

Dan Ryan: Wonderful. Uh, and we'll get all that into the show notes as well, and so, this is a surprisingly wonderful, uh, conversation with you, and I want to say thank you to you for your time, I know how busy you are. Um, thank you, from me and all of our listeners.

Hector Sanchez: Thank you very much, Dan. It was, uh, it was definitely a pleasure, uh, and I really

Dan Ryan: Yeah, and thank you, and I... Want to also, I always love thanking our listeners because without you, uh, we wouldn't be here right now learning from Hector's experience, which I think we all can learn from all these conversations we can learn from. So if this changed your way of how you see hospitality or design versus engineering or team building, or just self awareness in general, um, please pass it along.

We've all, we've been growing every week still, and I'm humbled by that by word of mouth. So please, uh, spread the word. Thank you.

Creators and Guests

Dan Ryan
Dan Ryan
Host of Defining Hospitality
Owning Your Results - Hector Sanchez - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 132
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