Celebrating our 100th anniversary as an association is a big achievement. Of course, with the ceaseless change and dynamic market conditions that our industry finds itself in, any milestone would be worth celebrating. But this year provides us with many reasons beyond our association’s anniversary to celebrate. The most obvious… we are back doing what we love to do; taking care of our guests!
Our centennial also provides an opportunity to reflect on our association’s history, validate our growth and evolution, and set the stage for the future. We continue our journey to build upon the exceptional story derived from our actions and our people over time.
As I view some of the founding documents going back to January of 1921, I can only imagine our founder’s mindset at that time, and I can envision it being similar to our thoughts today. After all, the building blocks of hospitality are still fundamentally the same. In so many ways, we are undergoing an experience similar to what our predecessors did a century ago: facing a turn of the century pandemic and an unstable economy as our political leaders were debating a major tax cut that primarily reduced taxes on the wealthy, our country's first formal budgeting process increases in tariff rates that greatly impacted trade, and the 1921 Emergency Quota Act, which marked the start of a period of restrictive immigration policies. Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, our founders came together to form an association to provide advocacy for our industry and to keep restrictive government intervention from impeding our progress as they worked to support hospitality throughout Michigan. They embraced new technologies like radio and aviation, they gathered and plotted on ways to make the hospitality industry the centerpiece of American culture, and they succeeded. This centennial celebration provides us with an opportunity to remind our employees, guests and other stakeholders of what we’ve always stood for and what makes us great, and to be thankful for all the men and women that have contributed to our successes over these past 100 years. As an association, we have survived a World War, the Great Depression, 9/11, and more. We’ve seen times of boom and bust, sometimes as part of the greater economy and sometimes specific to our own industry. We are always experiencing new competitors entering the market and older competitors seeking an edge. We have now survived two global pandemics and throughout it all, our association has been resilient. As one historian put it, “you’re not good because you’re old, you’re old because you’re good.”
While our celebration provides a brief opportunity to look into the past, our focus remains on the future. We are continuing the efforts of our predecessors as we work to connect our past to where our association is headed tomorrow. While we renew our commitment to our members, we are in the midst of making our own contributions to the legacy of our association. At the top of the list is of course are the workforce challenges. MRLA staff along with MRLA Education Foundation, will very soon be releasing information on workforce development, funding, and industry-specific certification programs that will make a significant impact on all of our businesses well into the future. These ideas will foster programs within our association that will attract talent and sought-after skillsets needed by hospitality employers. Innovative leaders from academia and business will collaborate on our association’s results-focused workforce programs. The MRLA will continue to play a pivotal role in addressing demand by bringing together organizations and the workers needed to succeed.
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to learn more about all of the plans, and to take advantage of an abundance of hospitality information by frequently visiting the MRLA website.
And finally, once again, thank you to Justin Winslow and the entire MRLA staff whose hard work and determination uniquely honor all of the men and women that have been part of these past 100 years of MRLA success! I hope that you and your families are safe and well.
Epoch Hospitality Group