PHOENIX—It takes a lot of expertise to run a hotel—from accounting to F&B to guest services, an operator has to be a jack-of-all-trades. Which is exactly where Michael Gildersleeve, a 35-year industry vet, sees a lot of opportunity.
Last month, Gildersleeve launched Patton Asset Management, headquartered here, a company designed to help hoteliers and restaurateurs maximize their success. The company is focused on the Southwest, but Gildersleeve said it would especially be active in the Phoenix area.
“When I decided to start Patton Asset, I really didn’t want to come across as a consultant,” said Gildersleeve. Instead, he sees himself as having a more involved role. “I was a chef andworked my way up the ladder, touched along different positions, so this company I’ve developed can help investors and owners understand their product and their management and get a return on it. I thought my expertise would bring that to a lot of independents; I don’t really see myself in the brand world, but more in the independent world where people may not have the expertise to run a restaurant or a hotel. Independents are creative, out of the box and don’t get locked into one philosophy. I like to bring the expertise and let them flourish with my knowledge.”
Services the company offer range from the big picture to the day-to-day, including advisory and management support for the hospitality industry, as well as assistance with restaurant openings, growth strategies, transitions, remodels and daily operations. Gildersleeve noted that the original vision for the company was to primarily focus on project management and transitional management. While that is still an area of emphasis, he noted, “I’m getting a lot of independent restaurants calling me. They’re expressing interest. I see a niche with them that I did not see before.”
While the company is still new, Gildersleeve sees it staying small and boutique, and dealing with “boutique operators who want to focus on quality.” Projects in the pipeline include asset managing some independent restaurants, a project with Arizona State University for design build-outs for a project and a boutique hotel in the Phoenix area. “The response so far has been really positive,” said Gildersleeve.
The executive got his start in hospitality in the 1970s, when he helped open three new resorts and restructure six properties under Marriott Hotel & Resorts as part of the company’s task force team. “I did a lot of great training with them,” said Gildersleeve, who noted he then moved out to Phoenix in 1984, where he gained much of his restaurant experience as the executive chef for Carefree Resorts’ new Buttes Resort. After helping to make it an award-winning culinary program, he transitioned to managerial roles over the next 17 years before taking over as resort manager at The Lodge at Ventana Canyon in Tucson, AZ. The company was then sold in 1997, prompting his transition to the role of director of operations with Destination Hotels and Resorts.
In 2003, Gildersleeve moved to The Hermosa Inn and LON’s in Paradise Valley, AZ, working as the managing director. “It was a three-diamond restaurant and the Hermosa Inn was not even rated,” he said, adding that over the next 14 years—and with the support of great ownership—both the hotel and the restaurant achieved a AAA Four Diamond rating. “While I was with them, I helped with other projects—we developed retail space, office space, four different branded restaurants; I helped some other folks with shopping centers.”
And when the owners told him they were selling, that’s when he got the idea for his new business. “When they told me, I said I’d move on. They wanted me to stay and help and that’s where the thought came from—help them sell it, get them the best price and then work with the new owner, help get it stabilized and bring the business through that sale in a manner that keeps the employees happy and the business flowing, and you don’t have the disruption of a sale,” he said. “I stayed for an additional year with the new owner; helped them remodel and build a new lobby.”
Gildersleeve sees much opportunity for this kind of work and a niche for a company like his. “A lot of these entrepreneurs who get into the hotel or restaurant business don’t really know the business,” he explained. “Someone like me, who has worked every stage of the operations, from sales and marketing to chef, will bring to the table something they may not have themselves or they may have, but lack expertise in other areas. It’s a win-win for them; I can do accounting and sales or come in and help their operations.” HB