NEW YORK—In a move designed to enable its founders to focus on the growth of the larger platform, AWH Partners LLC has hired Timothy Osiecki, a 30-year Concord Hospitality veteran, as president of AWH Development. This is a new role for the company’s development arm.
“Tim brings incomparable experience to the table, having been at a best-in-class firm in its infancy, and then through decades of growth as it became an industry leader,” said Chad Cooley, managing partner at AWH. “The fact he wants to join AWH on that same journey makes him a unique and exceptionally qualified match for our company.”
What stands out to AWH about its new addition to the team is that he’s “genuine and transparent—critical in the development business and at an organization like AWH,” noted Cooley, who is also one of the firm’s four cofounders. “We are excited to see all the great places we can go with Tim at the helm of our development business.”
Since its inception, AWH has amassed a portfolio in excess of $1 billion. The firm focuses primarily on value-add and distressed real estate investments. AWH’s business divisions consist of three core areas: investments (comprised of 11 individuals); operations (made up of 45 individuals); and development (built out to a team of 10 from several backgrounds: design, construction and accounting).
In his new role, Osiecki will manage day-to-day development responsibilities, a role similar to his prior position at Concord, he told Hotel Business. In his opinion, the main difference between his new and old posts is the types of projects he’ll be overseeing. “AWH does a lot more acquisitions and conversions,” he said, explaining how Concord’s strategy has always been geared more toward building properties from the ground up. This approach has contributed to Concord’s organic growth, he noted, though he recognized the speed these projects often take is a bit slower due to longer development cycles.
The latest self-reported data from the 2017 Hotel Business Green Book shows AWH, which established itself in 2010, with a portfolio of 20 hotels and 6,375 rooms, and Concord, which has been in existence for more than 30 years, with a portfolio of 31 hotels and 4,491 rooms. It’s important to note these numbers may have changed since the acquisition of this data.
During his tenure at the Raleigh, NC-based company, Osiecki oversaw major renovations, brand conversions and adaptive-reuse projects for Concord—directing the design and construction of more than 15,000 hotel rooms across the country. He also led the design and development of the first LEED-certified Courtyard by Marriott prototype hotel.
“Tim made a remarkable contribution to the growth of Concord since its inception,” said Concord CEO Mark Laport, speaking to Hotel Business on his former employee’s legacy. “He will be remembered most for his creativity and endless pursuit of quality.”
While at Concord, Marriott—a hospitality company Osiecki frequently worked with—awarded him the first-ever Icon Award for developing new, innovative ways to enhance brand design. The world’s largest hotel chain also honored him with the Design Excellence award for spearheading the design of its Gen IV SpringHill Suites prototype.
One of the first actions Osiecki’s taking in his new position is to “turbocharge” his team. “We need to bring some structure and order to all facets of development, from the beginnings of due diligence through the execution of the work,” he noted.
For him, this includes improving design documents. “There is going to be a big focus on getting a great set of construction documents before they’re released and before we go to work,” he said. “Other areas need to be streamlined, including accounting functions. There will also be investments in technology, specifically with regard to document management solutions.”
AWH currently has active development totaling roughly $80 million, and “that’s without projects on the horizon that are in various phases of negotiation that are still in the confidential arena,” he noted. Active development includes a 1,000-room DoubleTree by Hilton in Orlando, FL, currently undergoing a $30-million renovation; a full-service Marriott at the Seattle airport, which is about to undergo a $25-million renovation; and a $22-million renovation of a Westin in Dallas that is close to completion. “We’ve got a nice, manageable and healthy pipeline right now,” Osiecki added.
There’s uncertainty in today’s market for some developers—and that’s also true of AWH’s latest hire. “The challenge today in the current market is I’m not sure what inning we’re in,” he said. “My gut tells me we’re maybe in the 7th or 8th inning of the hotel development cycle, which is just that—it goes in cycles. Everybody has enjoyed a really long run now of just good things happening, which has made contractors and subcontractors pretty wealthy again, which has driven costs up exponentially.”
His take on the market is it’s currently at a point is it’s currently at a point where everything right now is priced at retail. In that, though, there’s opportunity to build value. “That doesn’t mean you’ve got to go out and pay retail dollar in hope the bubble keeps floating up,” he said. “It’s really about either building from the ground up at the right time or buying distressed assets that still have good bones that you can do gut renovations and make them like new.”
Sometimes there isn’t an ulterior motive when one executive moves on to another role in the industry—and, according to AWH’s newest executive, that sentiment is true in this situation. For Osiecki, the transition to AWH is about beginning a new journey, breathing experience into youth. “It’s just in my DNA to want to have small things grow big, and when they get big, I want to go back and start over small again,” he explained.
Looking back on his career, the 57-year-old—who began doing some consulting work of his own after leaving Concord to stay involved in the industry, while also slowing down his pace a bit—recalled a key motif during the beginning stages of his career in development—a lot of uncertainty. “I think I would have told myself to not hesitate as much as I did back then because you were always taking risks,” he said. “You’re young, dumb and broke, so when you’re out there doing those things, you’re always just praying that everything is going to work out. If we could’ve built the volume that we’re able to do today 30 years ago, we’d have empires.” HB