A company’s greatest assets are its employees. It does not matter what the product is, without their contributions, the company will not succeed. Blvd Suites Corporate Housing truly understands and demonstrates the meaning of this idea. On May 23, the company celebrated ten excellent years of operation at the annual client appreciation party. What better way to share the celebration than with the people who made everything possible?
The event was held at the Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life, home of the polar bears and penguins. Music, hors d’oeuvres, and a private polar bear feeding were among the many festivities that made it such a memorable night. Throughout the evening, I spoke with the leaders of the company and discussed their prosperity throughout the years. I had the privilege to speak with Jeff Hurley, the CEO; Mike Dunklee, the President and CMO; Shelly Bishop, the Director of Sales; and Charley Muste, the Director of Training and Operations. Each person brings a unique spark that distinguishes this company from any other.
But let’s go back to 10 years ago, when Blvd Suites took its first step into the world of corporate housing. Jeff and Mike both had a vision in their hearts and a plan in their heads, but did they envision all of this success? When I asked Jeff and Mike to rewind the clock and go back to when they first started the business, both became emotional, and also proud to say that what they have accomplished has exceeded their wildest expectations.
Mike states, “When we started Blvd Suites, I knew nothing about corporate housing at all. I was hoping to have at least a moderately successful small business in Metro Detroit and one that I could someday bring my kids into. If you told me 10 years ago we would grow to be in five states and experience the success we have, I never would have believed it. I am in awe of what our team has accomplished.”
Jeff agreed and stated, “Ten years ago, in my head, I thought we would be this 200-unit company. Did I think it would reach this level? In my heart I did, but nothing is ever certain. It has humbled me.”
In time, as the business grew and Mike and Jeff found continuing success, the company expanded and new leaders were born. Shelly began at Blvd Suites in April of 2006, when the company had been in business for three years. Shelly started as an outside sales rep and eventually moved up to Director of Sales. Now, she is responsible for the corporate business development in the Detroit office, as well as a team of sales people.
When asked what she believes is the driving force behind Blvd’s success and growth, she confidently answers, “Passion. Our executive staff has been with the company since the beginning and carries a deep passion and connection with watching the company grow from a small seed to the entity it is today. We are very selective in the talent that we hire, and each person brings something unique and valuable to our organization.”
As the entity grew, so did the talent. Charley Muste started her career four months later in August of 2006 as a Sales Executive when the Grand Rapids, Mich. market opened. Over the years, her responsibilities and career changed. In May 2007, the Indiana office opened and by 2008, Charley’s title changed to Account Manager, as she was active in guest services, sales, operations, and accounting for both the West Michigan and Indiana markets. But Charley’s career does not end there! Recently, in February 2013, she was promoted to the Director of Training and Operations.
I asked Charley what her new role consisted of and she stated, “My role now is to develop policies and procedures for the company as a whole. As the company continues to expand, a documented manual is imperative to our success. I am eager to improve the service provided to guests and streamline operations across our multiple offices, including West Michigan, Detroit, Indiana and Kansas City. As new team members join Blvd Suites, I will be training them on our operations, along with our Oscar database, and gathering all of the necessary tools and resources for them to do their jobs effectively.”
Today, the leaders of Blvd Suites are stronger than ever and have continued to demonstrate creativity and ingenuity throughout the journey.
Where will Blvd Suites be five years from now? Is there a ceiling to their success? Mike does not believe so. He explains, “I can’t envision a ceiling to what we can achieve when given the freedom and resources to fuel what we are passionate about. We continue to look at strategic secondary and tertiary markets with an eye toward opening one a year if we find the right person and it makes sense. I am also excited about being an owner in GO Furnished Housing.”
GO is a partnership of best in class regional corporate housing providers. GO will help allow Blvd Suites to ensure their clients and guests receive not only the finest accommodations and service in Blvd Suites’ markets, but anywhere Blvd Suites has a trusted GO partner. Mike also added, “I firmly believe GO represents a radical paradigm shift in our industry and I am incredibly motivated by my partners, their ideas and their passion for corporate housing.”
Jeff agreed and added straightforward goals that he plans on achieving in the next five years. “The big vision for Blvd Suites is simple. I see us being more efficient, more productive, and if it is possible, to become more financially sound then we are today. I do not believe there is a limit for success. I see Blvd Suites being located in 200 cities and 10 states. After ten years have passed, I am overwhelmed by and proud of how big and successful the company is.”
Passion is a key motivator behind any successful company. The amount of passion that lies within Blvd Suites is unattainable. If the company were ever to approach any kind of ceiling, I believe they would go crashing through it.