Kathy Maile is the Senior Vice President of Operations at Hotel Management Services, Inc. (HMS), the hospitality management arm of real estate developer Mitch Cox Companies located in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Maile joined HMS in January of 2014, three years after the firm’s founding in 2011. When she joined, the company had 10 hotels under management. Today the HMS portfolio has more than doubled to 21 properties in nine states.
“Kathy Maile has been an integral key to the company’s success over the past four years,” said Philip Cox, President of HMS. “Her experience, management skills, and tenacious resolve have anchored the company and allowed it to flourish. She has an outstanding ability to find the right people.”
Prior to HMS, Maile held a diverse number of management roles in the hospitality and real estate industry, including managing a full-service multi-hotel and convention center operation, along with executive level positions in corporate housing properties, extended stay hotels and limited service operations. Kathy is also a certified executive and corporate coach, skill sets useful in identifying and developing talent necessary for them to contribute to the success of the organization and succeed personally.
When she first joined HMS, her varied real estate background enabled her to adapt quickly to a company as multi-functional in the real estate world as Mitch Cox Companies. It also prepared her for the changes that lay ahead.
The hotel game was “young” at Mitch Cox Companies, she recalled when she first started. But her experience with training and standards, and a background in revenue management and accounting helped merge the operations with accounting and brought focus to the growing firm.
“Year one was about getting grounded, defining who we were, what we were going to do long term, and who we needed in order to get strong legs to grow,” she said.
Year two focused on the strength of HMS’s general managers and area managers, as the company took on two more Georgia properties.
Geographic expansion imminent, the company honed its area operations and revenue alignment in year three.
In year four of Maile’s tenure, the company added more properties in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. Standards and processes became streamlined and more and more responsibilities were distributed among the team.
“Today, we’re in growth mode,” said Maile. “And we’re growing at a pace that doesn’t weaken us. Everybody’s in the mode. Part of it is we’ll be changing to some of the Choice systems.”
In February 2018, Choice Hotels acquired the WoodSpring extended stay hotel brand, which made up the majority of HMS’s properties. Choice Hotels is one of the leading international hospitality holding brands with over 6,500 properties. “By adopting Choice systems, HMS benefits from its time-tested brand standards, purchasing power, and training processes,” said Maile. “Change always comes with challenges, but it will help us get stronger operationally.”
Of all the accomplishments she could be proud of, Kathy Maile is most proud of bringing on the best people. “We’ve hired people who feel free to communicate, who don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and say, ‘Kathy, you’ve lost your mind.’ We true each other up. And no decision is made in a silo. Everybody’s a part of the process and we discuss decisions with everyone so that their voices are in the procedures. They take ownership of it.”
One of the biggest lessons Maile has learned at Mitch Cox Companies, an entity that seeks to abide by Christian principles, is the difference an authentic environment makes in a company’s culture. “There’s a different level of honesty here. I’m able to relax and have well-rounded conversations that are not only for the good of the company, but also for the good of the people. You can see the whole picture.”
An example of this is the company’s ongoing Chaplain program. Managers, employees, and even guests talk through life’s ups and down with local chaplains. Also, the employees at each property work with the local chaplain to choose a community service initiative, such as a soup kitchen or assisting with the events specific to the welfare and benefit of their unique city.
Looking ahead into 2018, Maile is excited to be looking for more opportunities. “People are coming to us which is great,” she said. “We’ll stay in extended stay, but we’re looking for new markets and brands on an ongoing basis.”
Maile’s favorite part of the week is the midweek leadership call on Wednesday mornings. “This call is a good leveling call before the rush of rollouts at the end of the week. We set apart time to say, ‘This is what we said at the beginning of the week. Are we on track?’”
Outside of work, her favorite hobbies are serving at her church with her husband Joe Maile, who is also an HMS and Mitch Cox Companies team member, and putting classical music in her earbuds while swimming laps in the morning before she comes into work.