New hotels cast wide net to find workers

David J. Sangree was quoted in a recent article in Crain’s Cleveland Business that highlighted the new hotel development in downtown Cleveland and the competition to hire workers. 

Published By:Stan Bullard/Crain’s Cleveland Business
Published Date: May, 2016

Although he has 20 years of experience in restaurants, Andre McFarland’s new job as a steward at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown is his first turn at a hotel.

“I felt blessed,” McFarland said of landing the job keeping the kitchen stocked and ship-shape, because he had been out of work for a few months after being downsized from his prior job. He’s also played a part in the all hands on deck period for staffers at a hotel opening, even breaking down cardboard boxes to keep clear the busy loading dock.

McFarland is one of 200 hires at the 369-person Hilton workforce that don’t have prior hotel experience. That’s partly a strategy on Hilton’s part, and in part a reflection that unemployed workers are still seeking work. That helped the industry dodge a worker shortage in a period when hiring was underway in the region’s hotel industry due to a plethora of new properties.

David Sangree, president of Hotel & Leisure Advisors, said he does not believe Cleveland has ever added so many rooms in a four-month period before, nearly 1,386 between the 600-room Hilton convention center hotel at Lakeside Avenue and Ontario Street as well as the Drury Plaza Hotel, the Kimpton Schofield and the Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic.

Moreover, more than 1,000 rooms are under construction in the region’s suburbs as the hotel industry more than makes up for lost time during the Great Recession when real estate lending, especially for the precarious hotel category, dried up.

“I’ve not heard anyone complaining,” Sangree said, though he knows hoteliers were worried about the hiring frenzy on the front side. Other regions are not so lucky — even without an epic bulge in supply. Sangree said on a recent business trip to the Catskills he found hotels importing foreign workers to allay a worker shortage.

To read the entire article, click here.