“Most importantly, it was my almost-20-year association with Steve Tipton [VP of hospitality at Serta Simmons Bedding] that made the job even more appealing,” said Ryan. “Serta Simmons Hospitality is the undisputed leader in hospitality bedding and to be part of the next chapter in its growth was irresistible.”
Prior to joining Serta Simmons Bedding, Ryan worked for Tarkett Hospitality as the regional VP of sales for the Northeast. He also held the roles of senior director of FF&E and VP of business development with Lexmark Carpet before it was acquired by Tarkett. Prior to Lexmark, Ryan was the director of sales for Simmons Hospitality Bedding.
“My previous time at Simmons Hospitality was successful and fulfilling,” he said. “So, the attraction was in part the opportunity to work with Steve again, but also, following conversations with Serta Simmons Bedding leadership, hearing about their customer-centric mindset and focus on innovation.”
Throughout his career, Ryan has worked to give back to the hospitality industry as an active participant and advocate for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). He has served as a member of the organization’s board of directors for two years and continues to lead and strengthen the relationships forged.
In a Q&A with Hotel Business, Ryan shared why he’s passionate about his work and how he will contribute in a meaningful way at the company.
Have you always wanted to be in sales? What were your aspirations? No. Actually, following high school, I was an auto mechanic at a new store called Kmart. I loved working on cars. Then, I got my first W-2 and decided college might be a good idea. My first job after college was selling copy machines. I call it my MBA job—20 cold calls a day and it was all commission. With a weak economy and wanting to eat more often, I detoured into a career as a retail buyer that lasted 20 years. My last assignment was buying mattresses, where I met Steve. My aspiration, instilled by my parents, was to do the best I could in everything I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to do.
Why is hospitality sales an area of growth? The hospitality industry will continue to grow because people will always need to travel for business and want to travel for fun, and hotel operators will continue to innovate to attract them. Serta Simmons Bedding will grow along with them as we provide a great sleep experience to their guests while being a supplier they can count on.
How does your career experience dovetail with what you’ll be doing at Serta Simmons? My career has been all about wonderful people and the relationships I enjoy with them. The hospitality community is all about that. Customers do business with people and companies they know they can rely on. My goal is to continue to work to build trust with our customers and among our great sales team.
Serta Simmons Bedding is positioning itself for growth. How do you plan to contribute? We are well positioned for growth and we will do it as a team. My contribution will be in supporting our sales team with timely responses to customer needs, supporting them and working to maximize the time they spend with our customers.
What excites you most about hospitality sales? My wife is a very competitive person and her motto is “I like winning.” Well, I do too. It’s exciting to win, and every day presents a new opportunity to do that.
You’re actively involved with AAHOA. Why is that so important to you and your work? The Asian Indian hotelier community is a great American success story. What the founders HP Rama, Mike Leven and Lee Dushoff started as a shield from awful discrimination has grown into a vital association for growth and advocacy for the hospitality industry. I was fortunate to become associated with AAHOA at the very beginning of my hospitality career through a sales call on Kirit Bhikha at the Alexa Hotel in Nashville, TN, and a few years later was honored to serve on the AAHOA board as an allied director. It was a great education in what a hotelier’s life is like and has led to lifelong friendships.
How will you strengthen the relationship with AAHOA? I think the best way to support AAHOA is through our membership in the association, continuing to be vocal about the good they do for our industry and to be a good supplier to members’ hotels.
What is your business philosophy? How does it guide your steps as a leader? I’ve always believed you need to treat the salespeople you work with the same as your best customers. When they need something, they are asking for support in order to provide good service to our mutual customers. So, if I can be fast in my answers, it helps them and helps our customers.
What else would you like the hospitality industry to know about you and your new role? I love our industry and the people in it—both buyers and sellers. My goal and Serta Simmons Bedding’s goal is to provide brand-defining sleep experiences to our customer’s guests and drive satisfaction and loyalty, which benefits the owners as well as road warriors like me. HB