Exclusive Hotel Management Profile - Michael Heater
Michael Heater is the General Manager for Candlewood Suites in Greenville, SC, which is owned by Midas Hospitality located in St. Louis, MO.
Before Michael graduated from Clemson University, he worked on weekends at a local, independently owned hotel to help pay his way through college.
He ended up buying into the company as an investment and loved it. He eventually recognized that the hotel could not ultimately sustain itself in the hotel market.
As he neared the age of forty, Michael wanted to do something different with his career so he joined Hospitality America, who owned Hampton Inn located in downtown Simpsonville, SC. He acquired experience with the Hilton brand when he helped open a Hampton Inn. He also later managed an Embassy Suites, which provided even more solid Hilton background.
A personal defining moment triggered a pivotal change for Michael's career. Although Michael has experienced personal success in the hotel industry, he highly values his family. Like most professionals, Michael was trying to juggle a balanced work/home life, but at one point he recognized that it had become quite a challenge.
“My wife has a good career,” says Michael. “We were both traveling a lot. I remember the day we were going to the airport, leaving for the week, and our newborn son was crying. We looked at each other and decided we couldn't do this. We have a child. So one of us had to stop – and so I did. My wife kept working, and I stepped back for a year and helped with my son. After that, every time they asked me to move, I would quit the company and go somewhere else. I was given the choice to move away from Greenville but I took the job with Candlewood because it was a quality of life decision for me. I wanted to have a fun job and I wanted to stay in Greenville.”
Michael is involved in his community and is passionate about cultivating new business leaders for the Greenville, SC area.
He is a graduate of Leadership Greenville, which is an incredible organization that the Greenville Chamber of Commerce does, according to Michael. It involves a classroom of fifty people that meet for an entire year of classes with things to experience, including the privilege of shadowing the governor of SC for one day. Ultimately, the students learn how to be future leaders of Greenville, SC.
“It's all about relationships,” says Michael. “I am very involved in the Chamber because I believe the Chamber is great for Greenville.” Michael currently teaches a youth leadership class that is designed to engage high school juniors and expose them to the city of Greenville.
Michael notes, “Yes, they will go off to college, but many of them will come back and be leaders here in our town. I think that is an important part of our growth. We have examples of people coming back including the President of Michelin. Vice-presidents of other companies have also returned and made this their home after going through Leadership Greenville.”
Michael is president of the Greenville chapter of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association. Michael says, “I have a passion for our industry and I have done that for 2 years. It's kind of the voice of our industry.”
In the past, Michael has served on the school board for Christ Church and has always tried to stay involved while his son has been a student.
Michael loves his city. “It's a great city to be involved,” says Michael. “There is more philanthropy in this city than probably anywhere in the world. People care about Greenville. That is why I have stayed here my whole career. I love the city, the people and the leadership here.”
He is open to relocating and furthering his career, but only after his son goes to college, which will occur within three years. He looks forward to helping Midas grow and knows that will probably involve some travel. According to Michael, Midas Hospitality is currently focusing on growth in the southern part of the United States, and he would love to see more hotel development in the Greenville, SC area.
Midas Hospitality opened Candlewood Suites in Greenville, SC in October of 2013; Michael has been with them every step of the way. They have experienced phenomenal success in a very short amount of time. Most of that success can be attributed to Michael's leadership.
We asked Michael to list what he believes to be the top fundamental essentials for a successful hotel. He replied, “Obviously, your team. I can't run this place by myself. You need to have a good foundation for your team. You have to have the products. You have to have ownership to support that – but I can't stress enough the team that supports you and has to deliver. Every night I turn the keys over to them - which is a multi-million dollar asset - and say, 'Make sure we fill tonight.' I have to know that they will make the same decisions that I would. You have to trust your team to make the right decisions and give them the empowerment to run the hotel like you would. At the bottom of any decision should be the guest. Make sure you satisfy that guest. Always go above their expectations. If they feel like they deserve something, then give them double.”
Michael shares what type of person he feels is a great candidate to work in the hospitality industry.
“You have to love people; otherwise you will not be successful. At my last job I sat at my desk doing spreadsheets for six hours and I hated it. Sometimes I would go out and answer the switchboard just to talk to people. I was like a caged animal. You have to have that conversation with guests. You also have to love creating experiences for them. You are creating loyalty for your brand when you satisfy your guests. Guests know if you are being genuine about wanting to exceed their expectations. Sales is also important and being friendly.”
Michael enjoys working with Midas Hospitality and seems to thrive under their management. He appreciates the fact that they trust him to do what he feels is best at his hotel property. “It's a great atmosphere and so refreshing. I try and manage the hotel as if I owned it. It gives us room to grow and groom our team to advance. I always try to hire people I think are leaders.”
Michael Heater has won several Manager of the Year awards.
Read Our Featured Hotel - Candlewood Suites, Greenville. Learn more about their team and how they have experienced success in a short amount of time.