When we acquired the management business of Gaylord Hotels, we discovered that their corporate culture mirrored ours. Their employees are called “Stars” and they do much to celebrate them and provide opportunities for them.
Each year we select nine or 10 associates from around the world to honor with the J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence, named for my father. We have a large event with over 800 of our senior associates in attendance to celebrate these honorees.
One of the core elements of our culture is to provide people opportunities. All of us in attendance were especially touched by Gregory Scott and his story.
For nearly 20 years, Gregory was homeless and strung out on drugs. He’d been living under the Third Street Bridge in downtown Washington, when one morning he knew it was time to change his life. As he says, “I woke up one day and decided to turn everything around. I wanted a better life for myself.”
Gregory’s awakening led him to Washington’s Gaylord National Resort in 2008. After so many years of hard living, getting hired wasn’t easy. But his determination won out. When asked what value he could add to the team at the Gaylord, he said, “Given the opportunity, I won’t let you down.”
He spent the next four years as a public space attendant in the housekeeping department before being promoted to his current role as Guest Services Engineer. Gregory works the evening shift, ensuring guest rooms are in perfect order, from the plumbing to minor air conditioning repairs. He makes following up on guest maintenance requests a top priority, even calling in on his days off to ask about earlier reported problems.
What a comeback! Gregory has found success not just in his profession, but also in restored relationships with his family. He even just purchased his first home!
The best part of Gregory’s story is that it doesn’t end with his own personal success. He cares deeply for the homeless. He is a founding member of the “Get Involved” program at his hotel. He helps deliver boxed lunches to the homeless, as well as assists them in finding employment and housing.
Everybody loves a good comeback story. There’s something about a story of someone overcoming great odds to find success and happiness that touches all of us. It’s a part of the American dream! I’m proud of the leadership at Gaylord, which gave Gregory an opportunity to begin turning his life around.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.