March 28, 2023
Fred (Coach) Cerrone, founder/chairman, Hotel Equities, was presented with the 2023 Hunter Conference Award for Excellence and Inspiration at the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
“I am both honored and humbled to have been selected as the 2023 recipient of the prestigious Hunter Conference Award for Excellence and Inspiration,” he told Hotel Business. “I have been attending the Hunter Conference for many years and have had a great deal of admiration and respect for the past award winners. I consider this a team award and therefore want to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation for the efforts and support of my partners, my family and my fellow teammates. I also want to thank God for providing me with the gifts and talents that have allowed me to be a part of this great industry.”
Each year, the award recognizes a hotelier who exemplifies exceptional leadership, citizenship and innovation. From his start as a desk clerk at the Sheraton Boston hotel more than five decades ago to the founding of Hotel Equities, Cerrone has been a leader that all in the hospitality industry can admire, according to Hunter.
Before launching Hotel Equities in 1989, Cerrone served in management positions with top hotels across the country. His leadership was recognized early when he became GM at age 21. National hotel franchises twice recognized him as “General Manager of the Year.” He also became one of Marriott’s initial franchise partners in 1993. After spending nearly three decades growing Hotel Equities to a company that today has more than 200 hotels under management, he turned the day-to-day operations over to his partner, Brad Rahinsky, current president/CEO.
“Leadership can be defined with one word: influence,” said Rahinsky. “Coach has positively influenced and impacted more men and women in our industry than anyone I know. His genuine servant leadership is an inspiration and the cornerstone to what makes Hotel Equities such a unique and special place for so many.”
Cerrone now spends much of his time promoting the hospitality industry to young men and women entering the workforce and serving on the advisory boards of Georgia State University’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration and Marriott’s Homes and Villas Brand. He is also the chairman of InStep Ministries and teaches monthly “Foundations” classes to current and potential leaders within the company.
Company culture has always been important to Cerrone. “When Coach brought me in to lead the growth of the organization, his first comment was ‘be smart and make sure you preserve our culture,’” said Joe Reardon, chief development officer. “We always say we get bigger as we get better results, but frankly it’s the culture and foundation that Coach built when he first started Hotel Equities that remains our key differentiator today. I admire that he has always prioritized God, family and then work. It’s a good, honest way to wake up and to end each day.”
Bryan DeCort, COO, added, “Coach is an industry icon and incredibly deserving of this prestigious award. The respect and admiration his peers displayed in the room was powerful. One could hear a pin drop and the breadth of the moment wasn’t lost on the thousands of industry leaders that were lucky enough to hear his story.”
Other members of the Hotel Equities team offered their praise of Cerrone to Hotel Business.
“Fred/Coach has been an inspiration and a mentor to so many in this industry,” said Nancy Curtin Morris, SVP, talent. “The success of their careers speaks volumes on his influence on them, but, more importantly, it speaks to leaders they have become in their organizations, families and communities. Fred exudes servant leadership and those around him are the recipients of his wisdom.”
“When our business development team is out in the field meeting with partners, we have an easy time telling the story of Hotel Equities because of the foundations, core values and the principles that Coach built it upon,” said James Hansen, EVP, business development. “These have been fundamental in our success in growing partnerships each day, and Coach’s legacy of inspiration and hospitality excellence is carried on at each one of our hotels.”
“I joined the company because of Coach,” said Al Smith, president, hotel operations. “He built Hotel Equities emphasizing the importance of servant leadership and delivering value for each of our owners. He models the way and is often seen pouring into hourly employees as much as senior leaders at the corporate level. He is truly one-of-a-kind.”
Gregg Wallis, Hotel Business