National Ventures Group
Robert L. Schwartz, Managing Partner
Mr. Schwartz began his career in 1958 in the restaurant and hotel equipment manufacturing industry. In 1968 he sold his company, Golden State Industries, to the Frigitemp Corporation (American Stock Exchange) and went on to form Hotel Development Consultants. Under this banner, acting as special hotel consultant Mr. Schwartz represented more than thirty city redevelopment agencies. Among his other clients were Omni Hotels, Atlanta, GA; Holiday Inns Corporation of America, Memphis, TN; Lex Hotels, London; Meridien Hotels, Paris; and Grand Metropolitan Hotels, London.
In 1975, he became managing partner of Loring Park Associates, the developers and owners of the Minneapolis Hyatt Regency Hotel and Apparel Mart in partnership with one of the Pritzker Family Trusts. Between 1978 and present, Mr. Schwartz, as president of Hotel Development Corporation, acted as managing director and owner of such properties as the Sheraton Hotel, Stamford, CT; The Doubletree Hotel, Tulsa, OK; the Hilton Hotel, Bridgeport, CT; the Marriott Hotel, Provo, UT, among others. Mr. Schwartz has been responsible for more than a third of a billion dollars in construction financing. He was also the original developer and conceiver of the St. Regis Hotel and Residences, Buckhead, Atlanta, GA. National Ventures Group recently completed the $50,000,000 Westin Hotel in Birmingham, AL which was completed in February, 2013.
Richard Schwartz, Consulting
Mr. Schwartz has been a financial consultant to the hospitality and country club industry for over 25 years. After college, Mr. Schwartz went to work for Pannell Kerr Forster, currently known as PKF Consulting, in Los Angeles where he was involved in hundreds of consulting engagements, over $1 billion in value, which included acquisitions, appraisals, development, operations and workouts. Some of his well-known projects included the Beverly Regent Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA (renovation and acquisition); Century Plaza Hotel, Century City, CA (renovation and acquisition); Four Seasons Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA (development and financial) and Shadow Creek Golf Course, Las Vegas, NV (financial). In 1991, on behalf of PKF Consulting, Mr. Schwartz opened the first accounting office in St Petersburg, Russia.
In addition to Mr. Schwartz’s hospitality career, he was co-founder and Chief Financial Officer for a number of apparel manufacturing companies. These companies generated over $140 million in sales of which product was sold and distributed throughout the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia.
Jack W. Fields, Vice President of Development
Mr. Fields is a 1967 graduate of the University of Alabama and then served in the United States Air Force for four years. After completing military service, Mr. Fields began a forty year career in development, management and leasing of commercial and public real estate. Prior to joining NVG, Mr. Fields held the position as the Executive Director of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
Danny Hiatt, Vice President of Management & Operations
Danny Hiatt is a seasoned 4 Star, 4 Diamond GM with 35+ years in the hospitality industry. Mr. Hiatt has worked for 12 years with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, in Memphis, Chicago, Hilton Head, Palm Beach, Indianapolis and Houston. He also has worked for 10 years with The Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was awarded “Alabama Hotelier of the Year” in 2010, served as Chairman of the Board for the Birmingham CVB for 3 years, served as Chairman of the State Lodging Association for 3 years, served on the Board of Directors for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and was nominated as Tourism Executive of the Year for 2005 by the Governor’s Office. He has worked for Milestone Hospitality where he was Vice President of Operations and had oversight of 15 full service properties with revenues in excess of $150 Million dollars. Mr. Hiatt worked as the GM for 5 years with the Westin Huntsville, where he also managed one of the top Heavenly Spas for Westin Hotels, was rated the #1 Hotel in North America in guest service scores on multiple occasions, managed several separate restaurants from the hotel, one that he helped conceive and develop, was President of the Huntsville Lodging Association and sat on the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association, a “Sales Team of the Year” winner for Starwood Hotels for the entire franchise North American Division, and was an “Alabama Hotelier of the Year” award winner again in 2010. He was crucial to the recent 10 million dollar renovation of the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta, GA. Mr Hiatt has developed strong leadership skills and the unique ability to build strong, dynamic teams that yield financial results in every location that has been fortunate enough to have him at the helm.
Abdul M. Suleman, President & CEO, Equinox Hospitality
Mr. Suleman has over thirty years of experience in the hospitality industry with a leading global hotel corporation, and has earned a reputation for successful hotel turnarounds where he has taken underperforming hotel properties into profitability. Mr. Suleman’s professional accomplishments include openings of new hotels and takeovers of financially challenged properties. In 1994, Mr. Suleman founded Equinox Hospitality which serves in the various roles of hotel acquisition, development, asset management, project consulting and manage full-service hotels in major markets throughout the United States and around the world. Equinox’s focus is on continuous profitable growth and generating maximum return on investment.
Prior to forming Equinox Hospitality, Mr. Suleman served in senior management positions with Hyatt Hotels Corporation for over twenty-two years. He was directly responsible for many major Hyatt Hotels. He has served on the board of directors for multiple organizations and is an active participant in numerous community activities. Suleman graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University. He has been an invited speaker at many prestigious hotel schools throughout the United States.
Joseph Rabun, President, Rabun, Rasche, Rector and Reece Architects
As President of Rabun, Rasche, Rector & Reece Architects, Mr. Rabun has been responsible for the planning and design of more than sixty projects during the past twenty years. He and his associates have developed a national reputation for maintaining the highest quality of architectural services while maintaining strict adherence to the individual project budget constraints.
Among Mr. Rabun’s teams’ accomplishments through the years are the Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta, GA; the Westin Hotel, Hilton Head Island, SC (formerly the Intercontinental Hotel); the Sheraton Hotel, Stamford, CT (formerly the Westin Hotel); the Westin Hotel, Buckhead, GA, (formerly the Swiss Hotel); the Hilton Hotels at Hartsfield Airport, Atlanta, GA; and the Marriott Hotel, Alpharetta, GA, among others. Mr. Rabun’s most recent projects are the St. Regis Hotel and Residences, Buckhead, GA and The Westin Hotel, Birmingham, AL.
James Culpepper, Founder and Principal CMMI
James Culpepper is the founding principal of CMMI one of the hotel industry’s most inventive and talented interior design companies. They are best known for their work in some of the world’s most luxurious five star hotels. CMMI’s clients include Hyatt Hotel Corporation, Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts, Regent international Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Starwood Hotels worldwide. The company excels at providing first-class interiors while adhering to strict budget guidelines.
Haytham Gebara, President, North America Construction Cost Management
Haytham Gebara, President of NACCM is one of America’s most respected names in construction and project management. Mr. Gebara’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, design oversight control; design intent implementation; validate incorporation of appropriate design standards and local codes as required; thoroughly analyze client needs, provide value management and professional expertise; collaborate with Owners, Architects, Engineers, Subcontractors and Vendors at the various stages of design to ensure drawing completion and to avoid scope gaps and budget overruns; provide detailed fiscal and project status reporting for the project team; control meeting topics through streamlined agenda development and adherence to same; conduct General Contractor, Subcontractor and Vendor bid audits of quality, pricing, scope and work procedures.