Strand thinks long term as it marks 50th year

By: Bryan Wroten of Hotel News Now

As Strand Hospitality Services celebrates its 50th year of developing, owning and managing hotels, the company is looking forward to expanding its portfolio through measured growth and building strong relationships.

The company’s longevity is the result of its core values, Strand President John Pharr said. One of those values is innovation, he said.

“We challenge ourselves yearly to not become (antiquated),” he said. “We challenge ourselves to find new opportunities and new ways of doing business. Innovation has been the key.”

The key to understanding Strand is how it treats people, and builds and maintains relationships, Pharr said.

“We seek out people we feel have honesty and integrity,” he said. “We operate our business in that manner. If it doesn’t match up, we move on. We’re not afraid to walk away from a deal that doesn’t work. We have the financial capability to do as much or as little as we need to do.”

The company has grown in a logical manner, and it follows its core values as it grows, he said. He said he can sleep well at night and feel good about the company he works for.

The evolution of Strand
Strand Hospitality Services is as a division of Pharr, a family of companies involved in several industries, including textiles. Pharr began in 1939, acquiring the bankrupt mill town of McAdenville, North Carolina, which had shuttered textile plants, more than 400 homes and other real estate.

Strand Hospitality Services was originally Strand Development when it started in 1969. Pharr said his family created the company to develop a Holiday Inn hotel in Myrtle Beach, when there were no major brands in that market. Strand went on to own three more hotels in Myrtle Beach, becoming the largest hotel company in operation there.

Pharr joined Strand after graduating from Michigan State University in 1970, helping to open some of the new properties and later becoming GM of the 312-room Holiday Inn Downtown Oceanfront.

In the early 1980s, Strand explored condo management, which is when the company transitioned into becoming more of a management company than an ownership company. The company sold three of its Holiday Inns in 1984. The family reformed the company under the same name as a division of the company Pharr. It soon focused its efforts in Charlotte, where it developed the 43rd Hampton Inn in the world.

“We have been with Hampton from the very start,” Pharr said. “We have a long, long history with that company. Those folks had the foresight and vision to start a company like that.”

Over the years, Strand opened Hampton Inns and Holiday Inns in the Charlotte area, and also pioneered the Wingate brand, opening the fourth one in the world in Greenville, South Carolina.

In 1997, Strand procured its first third-party management contract. Hotel owners approached Strand about the opportunity because of its early start with Hampton Inns, Pharr said.

“They thought we were the experts,” he said.

Strand grew through its relationships in the hotel industry, at one point managing 75 hotels in 14 states.

The company now has nearly 40 hotels under its management and will likely add another five to eight in the next year to 18 months, most of them in the company’s key states in the Southeast, Pharr said.

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