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Lessons We Learned From John Q. Hammons


When hotelier and visionary John Q. Hammons passed away on May 26, the hospitality industry lost a legendary entrepreneur. Butler, Rosenbury & Partners had the pleasure to work for Mr. Hammons on numerous projects in our hometown of Springfield and across the country for nearly 30 years. Mr. Hammons shared his reasons for choosing BR&P time and time again in this 2007 interview.

He shared his wisdom and taught us lessons along the way about business, customer satisfaction and the hospitality industry. Three of BR&P’s partners pass along some of these lessons.

Do your research, make your plans, and whatever you do, do it with quality.

While sitting in Mr. Hammons’ office or traveling to a job site with him on the plane, I was impressed with Mr. Hammons’ ability to always know the facts about a particular project. He would know what major freeways, colleges, airports and government buildings were nearby, and what drove the local economy. He would say, “Bill the way I’d evaluate locations for my projects, is when I’d fly over at night, I’d look where lights were shining. If there were a lot of lights in a certain area, I’d take note. If not, I’d fly on by.” Mr. Hammons took the adage “Location, Location, Location” to another level. His innate ability to pick the right site was what made him so successful. Bill Bergmann, PE, Structural Engineer & Partner

Balance what you want with what you need.

Anyone who frequently visited with Mr. Hammons undoubtedly heard his story of growing up in the depression, his parents losing the family farm, and his personal “early bird gets the worm” lesson in rabbit trapping at a young age – a lesson which most likely instilled his incredible work ethic practiced throughout his life.

One of the best lessons we learned from Mr. Hammons, as well as from his development and operations staff, was how to reconcile operator needs and development costs. This is a delicate balance, maintaining space and infrastructure necessary for an efficient hotel and conference center operation while watching the overall size, amenities and budget to ensure a profitable return on investment.

Mr. Hammons will be missed not only for his entrepreneurship and philanthropic endeavors, but for his personal leadership, stories and lessons yet to be shared. David Hess, AIA, Architect & Partner

Share news promptly.

One time during a long visit in his office he turned our conversation to a project he was planning, and started negotiating the fee with me. He was grinning as went went back and forth, and I could tell he was enjoying the vigorous negotiation. We finally settled on a fee.

When I went back to my office and told my partners about the fantastic deal I had just cut, my partner Bill Bergmann looked at me with alarm and said the day before he had made the same deal with Mr. Hammons for a fee that was $50,000 higher.

That day I learned that fee negotiation for a project needs to be done by only one person, and in that case, not me! Geoffrey Butler, AIA, Architect & President

Projects completed for Mr. Hammons by BR&P:

BR&P-designed projects funded in whole or in part by Mr. Hammons include:

Since 2005 BR&P has been ranked annually as a leading hospitality design firm. We attribute this industry recognition to the lessons we’ve learned from Mr. Hammons and to the lessons we continue to learn from our clients today.

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