Thursday, July 23, 2015

ORLA to Welcome Change in Leadership

Jason Brandt
After a 32 year career in association management, and a terrific experience it has been by the way, I will be retiring in October. The decision to do so was made after a great deal of thought as I truly enjoy my job. It is an honor to represent ORLA’s members as I very much admire their passion for the industry, the jobs that they produce and the communities that they positively affect every day. Working to protect their rights, represent their positions on issues, provide them with needed information and educate their workforces made every work day something I looked forward to with enthusiasm. That is a gift that many don’t receive in life and one I value greatly.

However, there does come a time when you know it is time to move on to another chapter in your life. That time arrived for me last year. I came to grips with the fact that the energy level I’d always tapped to meet all my work obligations was much lower that it had been. I finally decided, or more truthfully knew, that it was time for ORLA to have a new CEO to lead the association in the challenging and changing times ahead.

So, working with ORLA’s Executive Committee, we developed a succession plan last summer. That plan laid out the search process, the type of person the board wanted to replace me with, and a timeframe for getting all of this done and the replacement hired. The search began in September of last year and culminated in the selection and hiring of my replacement in February of this year. A contract has been signed and your new CEO will start his new career on August 10, 2015.

Your new leader will be Jason Brandt who is currently the CEO of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. Jason has worked for the Salem Chamber the past 11 years beginning immediately after graduating from Pacific Lutheran University. Jason grew up in Salem and lives there now with his wife Natalie and their two daughters. He has served as CEO of the Salem Chamber for over four years and is a leader in the chamber world in Oregon and the Western region of the country. He brings with him a thorough understanding of association management principles and law, nearly five years of association management experience, experience in the government affairs arena both at the state and local level, and an enthusiastic, people-oriented can-do attitude that will mean great things for Oregon’s hospitality industry.

I’ll be working with Jason getting him familiarized with all things ORLA through September. You might watch for us as I’m sure we’ll be traveling about the state introducing Jason to ORLA’s thousands of members (see ORLA Convention). Serving as CEO of the association is a demanding job and Jason’s skill set will serve him in good stead as he moves into his new position.

I can’t tell you what a joy and honor it has been to be allowed to lead the association. I know what a great job the ORLA team does every day representing your interests. The ever-changing, challenging times the industry has been through have certainly left you with an experienced team of professionals who know how to produce results. That will serve you and Jason with excellence in the years to come. You’re sure to see new ideas, innovative solutions and a fresh, new look at industry challenges from Jason – all good things that are healthy for ORLA. If you’re not already a member, please consider joining ORLA and supporting what will be another great era in ORLA’s long and distinguished history of representing the industry’s interests. Jason and your business need and deserve that support and participation. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Restaurant Neighbor Award Winners To Be Recognized for Community Engagement

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) announced the state winners of the acclaimed National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) Restaurant Neighbor Award. The national winners were chosen in early February from state awardees by a panel of restaurant and foodservice industry leaders from across the country. Oregon finalists were then considered among all other state winners for a national award of $5,000 at the gala awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2015.

The Restaurant Neighbor Award, developed in partnership with American Express, celebrates the outstanding charitable service performed by restaurant operators throughout the U.S. With nine in 10 restaurants involved in community service, this award recognizes the impact restaurants and entrepreneurs have made on their local communities.

“The involvement and dedication these restaurants have shown in support of local charitable programs is commendable and exemplifies the spirit of our industry and our state,” said Steve McCoid, ORLA President & CEO.

The 2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award winners from Oregon are:

Beau Delicious International, LLC dba Café Yumm!, Eugene
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon
Cattlemen’s Saloon, Rogue River
Po’Shines, Portland

Award recipients will be recognized among their peers at the Hospitality Industry Awards Dinner, October 4, 2015, during ORLA’s Convention in Bend, Oregon. A complete list of Oregon’s hospitality industry awards can be found at For more information on ORLA’s Convention, visit or call 800.462.0619.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Advocating on Behalf of Oregon's Hospitality Industry

Oregon State Capitol
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s (ORLA) stripped down mission statement to “advocate, communicate and educate Oregon’s hospitality industry” has been discussed frequently in this publication. These three words are the reason ORLA exists, however, there is nothing like real world examples of how ORLA is meeting these goals to illustrate the point. I’ll give you some examples below.

We’re certainly in the midst of providing advocacy for you by representing the industry at the 78th Oregon Legislative Session, which began in February 2015. Your association is tracking over 300 bills that could affect your business. The most visible are statewide paid sick leave, a variety of proposals increasing the minimum wage between $12 and $15 an hour, a bill that requires work schedules be written two weeks out for foodservice operations with a penalty for any subsequent changes, and a cancellation of the ban on local governments passing their own minimum wages. ORLA’s lobbyist, Bill Perry, is at the Capitol daily representing your interests to the legislators and working to ensure all damaging legislation is not passed.

ORLA held its bi-annual Taste Oregon Legislative reception on February 17th, drawing over 225 industry members in attendance including a significant number of legislators and their staffers. Here, we’re talking about advocacy in terms of interacting with legislators, and communication by informing our members of the issues being dealt with in Salem. 

ORLA’s Education Foundation helps meet the educational mission by producing the annual OregonProStart High School Culinary Championships. This year’s event was held at Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde. There were 20 teams competing in an event that requires teams of four to plan and cook a 3-course meal in one hour using two gas burners while properly handling and prepping the food. The winning team from South Salem High School will compete in the National ProStart Invitational in Anaheim representing Oregon.

Finally, we are in the midst of preparing for and planning the annual Northwest Foodservice Show with our partners at the Washington Restaurant Association. The largest foodservice show in the Northwest, this typically draws over 5,000 and will be held in Portland this year at the Convention Center, April 26-27. We’re anticipating 400 booths featuring the latest in products and services plus a full agenda of educational seminars, new product listings and chef presentations. 

That’s just a sampling of the work and services ORLA delivered to the industry in the first quarter of 2015. For those who haven’t become ORLA members yet, please consider joining. All it takes is a call or email to get a helpful representative to review all the programs membership provides. We look forward to working with you as we support our great industry. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO,
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association

Monday, December 22, 2014

ORLA Keeps You Up to Date on Emerging Issues

Ebola, marijuana, data security. These are all current topics that we’ve seen in the news, deal with in our businesses, and that represent challenges to anyone managing a lodging property. Some of these are new, some are issues you might think you’d never deal with, and some are issues that you’ve dealt with that keep changing due to on-going improvements in technology. In all cases, they are matters that you need to know about and know how to deal with if they arrive at your place of business. Our December issue of Lodging News addresses each of these topics for you.

You’re busy running your business on a daily basis. You don’t have the time to keep up with these and the many other issues that crop up daily and monthly to affect your profitability. That is a major reason ORLA exists. We are here to communicate these types of issues to you through communication vehicles like our two magazines, e-newsletters, special e-bulletins and our website.

ORLA provides you a one-stop, go-to organization that you can utilize to stay up to date on these emerging issues. Oh, and by the way, we also advocate for reasonable, manageable solutions at the state and local levels to the policy makers who react to the onset of these challenges with new laws, ordinances and regulations.

You need to be up to date. You need to be responsive. You need to be aware of new and emerging issues. You need to be able to answer questions raised by your customers. You can attempt to find the answers on your own, or you can support ORLA and have that one-stop place to get your questions answered accurately and in a timely manner. Give us a try. I guarantee you’ll like the results and make your business lives just a little bit easier and less stressful while doing so. | Steve McCoid, ORLA President & CEO

Friday, October 10, 2014

Recognizing Pride and Passion

Lodging Operator of the Year Craig Thompson (center)
ORLA recognized four hospitality professionals at our annual Awards Banquet during the convention last month in Bend. The Lodging Operator of the Year was awarded to Craig Thompson, GM of the Hotel Monaco in Portland. Craig’s long, successful, influential and continuing 44-year career was highlighted. He was recognized not only for running the #2 rated Oregon hotel by TripAdvisor, but for the leadership role he played in a number of other industry organizations, and for the influence he has had through mentoring employees who have moved on to successful management careers. In fact, Craig pointed with pride to the fact that the #1 TripAdvisor rated hotel in Oregon is managed by a former employee and front desk manager that Craig hired and mentored! All of the award winners are listed along with links to their videos on ORLA’s website ( I encourage you to check them out as they are all terrific representatives of what makes the hospitality industry great. You’ll see the passion they have for their jobs and this industry and see that it hasn’t waned during their long careers.

In this issue, you’re going to be treated to a wonderful feature story that highlights the philanthropic programs several lodging companies operate to benefit their communities and the state. They’ve developed these programs to support charities that resonate with their team members. Those team members participate in the fundraising design and implementation throughout the year. Those results translate into contributions to designated charities that benefit those in need in their areas. The result for the business is engaged employees who are introduced to these types of charitable activities; a development of teamwork as all the employees get involved in the planning, fundraising and presentation of their hard work; and a very real, personal and professional feeling of accomplishment and pride by all involved.

The thing that links the award winners and the teams of the businesses highlighted in the article is passion. The award winners succeeded in their careers because they discovered and brought a passion for what they did every day. That passion could be seen on the awards night as they graciously and humbly received their well-deserved recognition. They all spoke about the love for their jobs. They transmitted their passion for what they do in their brief remarks to everyone in the room.
Similarly, the people quoted in the article this month cited the passion that their employees felt for being involved in a philanthropic program. They tell you how it creates a real link among everyone on the team and improves their view and appreciation of their employer. They do it because it is right – not because they want to benefit from it. They do it because the team has become passionate about the programs and taken ownership of it.

Passion is certainly the operative word here, isn’t it? The passion for serving people is what makes a successful hospitality industry professional. Whether is it the front desk person, a server, a concierge or a room service person it is passion for what they do that makes the difference between excellence and ‘just okay’ for them in their job and, ultimately, for you as the employer.

I can tell you with pride that your association is staffed with people who are passionate about serving you and the industry. All you need to do is reach out and ask for assistance, answers or information on an ORLA program. You’ll get what you need quickly and enthusiastically from a professional, trained to serve you and your needs. Remember us when you need assistance or information. We’re here to serve you and are passionate about doing so. | Steve McCoid, ORLA President & CEO

Friday, August 15, 2014

Supporting ORLA Ensures Your Industry’s Vitality

Members networking at Convention
ORLA is a membership organization and, thus, it is important for its long term viability and fiscal health that it maintains a large, growing, supportive membership. Over the years the association has used all types of sales approaches in its efforts to convince industry operators that they needed to part with a small portion of their hard earned dollars to support its activities. At times we leaned on our very successful suite of endorsed services and the savings they provided members the key reason for joining. Certainly, in terms of a return this made sense to the thousands of operators who joined for that reason. However, this approach created a purely financial relationship that didn’t last if a program’s returns didn’t meet a member’s expectations, leading to a constant turnover in members.

That has led to ORLA changing its sales message to one focusing on the mission of the association as the key reason for joining. That mission, one that calls for ORLA to advocate for, communicate to, and educate its members, is one that when used as the reason for joining produces long term, loyal members who understand and support what ORLA is there to do for them. For your association is the only organization in the state existing to provide those services to your business.

We advocate by representing your interests before the state and federal legislatures and local city councils and county commissions on all issues affecting your business. In other words we lobby for you on a daily basis and are recognized as a leading business association in this arena. One of the largest business political action committees in the state is also managed by ORLA to increase your political profile. We also proactively promote all the good the industry and your business does for Oregon to the state’s media. We serve as your spokesperson.

We communicate to you the information you need to have to successfully operate a business. Those communications can be an explanation of a new regulation or statute that applies to you and your business. It can be providing information on a new program, new technology, industry news or best practices in management. We communicate to the industry through two print magazines, a great website, two e-newsletters, as-needed government affairs e-alerts, and lottery newsletters and confidential bulletins.

We educate management and their employees by providing cutting edge online training programs in food handling and alcohol serving; classroom management-level food safety training; an annual regional trade show and annual convention; and all the information listed in the communications above.

No other organization provides all of these services to you because protecting and representing your interests is our sole reason for existing. We know that meeting that mission creates a better operating environment for your business, thus enabling you to be more profitable.

Membership also benefits those associates that sell goods and services to the industry. It is in their best interest to support ORLA too as the ability for their customers to turn a profit and grow their businesses means that their business will in turn sell more goods or services. It behooves all industry members – retail and associate - to support the only association representing their interests in Oregon by becoming a member; for what is good for the retailer is good for the associate and what is good for the associate is good for the retailer. We’re one industry and we’re in this together. If you’re not a member, consider our mission, this message, and support your association. It truly is a low cost investment in your business that will produce large returns. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO, ORLA

Friday, June 13, 2014

Participation is Needed to Help Protect Your Business

Oregon restaurant owners visit Rep. Greg Walden in D.C.
The past three months proved to be some of the most informative and rewarding times of my life. Despite the warnings of my friends, neighbors and fellow association managers, I ran for the position of City Councilman in Ward 4 in my home town of Salem. This position is a non-paid, part-time job with a four year term serving approximately 20,000 residents of the ward located in far south Salem. The election was decided last week in the primary election and I’m proud to say I won by just less than seven percent. As has been often said, watch what you’ve asked for and that is certainly appropriate now that I’ll be taking office in January 2015.

During the campaign I did on a small scale what I’ve watched state legislative candidates do for the past 31 years. I raised money, walked and knocked on doors introducing myself, participated in phone bank calling, appeared at six or seven public forums with my opponent, put up signs, appeared before a variety of groups seeking their endorsement, and got to meet many people living in the neighborhoods near me in south Salem. The rewarding part is that all the work resulted in a win making it worthwhile and productive personally and for everyone involved in the campaign.

The informative piece had to do with several things. I was saddened by the number of citizens who aren’t even registered to vote – roughly 50 percent of the ward. It bothers and intrigues me that people feel that it isn’t worth their time to even deal with elections, politics and issues. They’ve given up on the system and don’t care to participate. I also learned that most people are really very nice. I personally knocked on over 3,000 doors and only experienced four really rude receptions. Not a bad percentage there.

Even more troubling to me was the fact that only 40 percent of the registered voters in Ward 4 bothered to vote in the primary election, and that was high by far in Salem. Citywide, only 30 percent of the people voted. That means that 20 percent of the potential Ward 4 voters decided this election and we were a high water mark. In two of the other wards it was 10 percent of the voters making decisions! 80 percent of the people didn’t have enough belief in the system to participate. And with vote-by-mail it is even easier to do so in Oregon than most states. That lack of participation is a real problem for our society and one that needs to be solved if the state and nation is going to continue to move forward.

ORLA deals with the same types of participation levels when you look at our membership penetration rates. We currently have 30 pecent of the hospitality industry supporting our efforts, which benefit the entire industry. Part of ORLA’s mission is to represent the business interests in the political and public worlds of the hospitality industry in Oregon. Just like Ward 4, we have industry members with varying business and political philosophies when it comes to developing a position on issues that directly impact our industry. These issues include paid sick leave, the Affordable Care Act, lodging taxes and minimum wage increases. Right now the active 30 percent are deciding the industry’s position. ORLA needs the majority of the industry involved and supportive to truly be effective for the industry. Participating and supporting the efforts of the team of professionals representing you is a small investment in the well-being of your business. I invite you to be a part of the process and join ORLA to ensure your voice is heard and your business is protected. | Steve McCoid, President & CEO, ORLA