HRM Executive Speaker Series
Each semester, the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management brings experienced experts in the hospitality industry as part of the Executive Speaker Series. These industry leaders share their experiences and advice to students that elevate their knowledge and give them skills to help in their job searches and career progression. Planning for this next academic year is underway.
Mark Koehler has been the Vice President for Operations Finance for the Americas with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts since 2011. His history with Four Seasons has spanned over 30 years and has included positions such as Area Director of Finance, Director of Finance, and Controller. He has worked at properties or offices in Dallas, TX; Scottsdale, AZ; Boston, MA; Santa Barbara, CA; Philadelphia, PA; and Washington D.C.
Mr. Koehler received his BS in Hotel Administration from the University of Las Vegas and a Master of Professional Studies in Hotel Administration from Cornell University
Randy Price started working in the restaurant industry at the age of 14 and continued working in the industry through high school and college. While attending Arizona State University, he decided to pursue a degree in Business and Hotel Restaurant Management and transferred to Northern Arizona University. After graduating NAU in 1989, Price searched out the best restaurant training in the industry and went to work for Houston’s Restaurants in Kansas City. “I was attracted to Houston’s because of their top ranked training program, their standards of excellence in service and food quality and the fact that they had the highest average unit sales volume of any privately held restaurant chain at the time”, states Price. After three years with Houston’s, Price went to work for Dallas based Brinker International and the Chili’s brand. “Having enjoyed the fast pace and attention to detail environment of Houston’s, I wanted to work for a company that was a little more bottom line and employee focused”, states Price. “The goal all along was to learn from the best and gain as much knowledge and practical experience as possible before venturing out on my own”.
Price left the corporate world in 2000 and moved his family to Colorado Springs from Texas as he and his wife wanted to raise their children in the mountains and enjoy all the outdoor beauty and quality of life that Colorado has to offer. He opened his first restaurant in 2002, Salsa Brava Fresh Mexican Grill. He currently owns and operates two restaurant concepts, Salsa Brava and Urban Egg a daytime eatery. He has two Salsa Brava locations in Colorado Springs and 8 Urban Egg locations stretching from Colorado Springs to Denver, Johnstown and Fort Collins. He is opening his 9th Urban Egg in Colorado in early 2020 and plans to expand the brand into Texas in 2020 as well. His future growth plans include opening two to three restaurants per year and taking his award winning breakfast concept, Urban Egg, to other states that offer favorable business climates.
Bruce Fears is President of Aramark Leisure. As President, he is responsible for Aramark’s operations at conference centers, national and state parks, national forest, zoos, aquariums, museums, and other tourist destinations throughout the United States. Fears, who has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, is a recognized leader in the travel and tourism community and is often asked to provide commentary for news stories and present at industry conferences.
Mr. Fears first joined Aramark in 1974 as Food and Beverage Manager at Skyland Lodge in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, before rising to the level of Regional Vice President. He was also an integral part of Aramark’s management team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Fears left Aramark to become President at Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts. He returned to Aramark in May 2005 as Executive Vice President of Aramark Parks and Resorts, and assumed his current position in October 2005.
He has served on the National Board of the Travel Industry of America and the California State Park Concessions Board. He has testified before Congress on National Park Concession’s Policy and was a presenter at the World Congress of Parks in Durban, South Africa in 2004. He has also served as Vice Chairman of the National Park Hospitality Association and was a member of the National Parks Service Centennial Advisory Commission.
Mr. Fears is currently a board member of the Park Institute of America, a partner of the National Park Foundation and an executive board member of the City Park Alliance. He has also served on the President’s Advisory Board for Bridgewater College.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bridgewater College in Virginia and continued education programs at the University of Florida School of Management.
Craig C. Culver, Co-Founder, Board Chairman, Brand Ambassador Culver Franchising System, LLC
Craig Culver grew up in the small town of Sauk City, Wisconsin and never imagined he would become a leader in the restaurant industry.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh with a degree in biology, Craig reluctantly, applied and was hired to manage a McDonalds. After a few years and having learned valuable lessons in successfully operating a restaurant, Craig decided to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit. He approached his parents and together they bought and operated a local restaurant for a few years and then moved on to a nearby supper club for several years.
In 1984, he and his family, once again purchased a local restaurant and made it their own. They gave the entire building a makeover, added a blue roof, painted the walls white, and hung a sign that read “Culver’s Frozen Custard and ButterBurgers”.
After several years of hard work and passion, Craig and his family perfected their business by first serving only fresh, made-to-order quality products, no compromise. They created a friendly, family atmosphere that involved treating everyone like a “guest” in their home and maintained simple Midwest core values of it being a pleasure to serve a guest. Word-of-mouth grew and so did the brand.
There are now over 730 Culver’s franchises across 26 states employing over 28,000 team members. While Craig Culver retired as CEO in 2015, he is still the brand ambassador and board chairman. He passionately supports the commitment vision and mission of Culver’s and remains the face of the brand. Craig continues to visit newly opened restaurants and shares his story at training sessions to franchisees and team members alike.