True North Hotel Group Has Announced the Transition of Three Key Executives into New Chief Officer Positions

Effective January 2, Lew Wiens has moved from president to chairman and chief executive officer of True North Hotel Group; Richard Merkel, formerly executive vice president of operations, is now president and chief operating officer; and Brad Wiens, formerly senior vice president, development and acquisitions, has been named executive vice president and chief development officer.

True North Hotel Group Lew Wiens said, “I have never felt so confident and excited about where True North Hotel Group is in terms of direction and momentum. With our solid portfolio, healthy pipeline and superior leadership talent, the time is right for this natural transition and, best, places True North in an excellent position to meet our growth demands. I am enormously proud of our 700-plus associates, and grateful for our partners and investors who have helped foster the evolution of True North's growth and success for 30 years."

Lew Wiens’ roots in the hospitality industry stem back to 1983, when he co-founded RHW, a company comprised of RHW Management, Inc., and RHW Construction, Inc. He then established Henry Hotels, Inc., in 1995 to concentrate on hotel development opportunities, and entered into a joint venture with Mike Dubroff in 1998, forming True North Hotel Group, L.L.C. In 2002, Lew Wiens teamed up with Richard Merkel to reorganize the company as True North Hotel Group, Inc. Lew Wiens is a licensed real estate broker in Kansas and Missouri, holds a Certified Hotel Administrator (C.H.A.) designation from the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association, and is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He is past president of The Residence Inn Association and served as president of the SpringHill Suites Franchise Advisory Council from its inception in 1998 through the summer of 2012.

Richard Merkel’s influential contributions to True North Hotel Group began in 1999, when Lew Wiens hired the already-seasoned hotel executive to serve as vice president of operations for Henry Hotels, Inc., and its affiliate, True North Hotel Group, L.L.C. Merkel was named executive vice president of operations of True North Hotel Group, Inc., in 2006. He has directed start-ups, turnarounds, asset management, financial control, market feasibility, site selection, risk management, food and beverage operations, quarterly reporting to investors and hotel valuations. The common thread throughout Merkel’s talents is and has always been his strong acumen as an outstanding "people manager." Over the years, he has served as a board director for several convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce and lodging associations. He currently serves on Marriott's SpringHill Suites Marketing Committee. Merkel holds a certified hotel administration (C.H.A.) designation from the Education Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association and is a graduate of Western Illinois University.

Brad Wiens, with True North since 1998, has deep experience in all facets of hotel operations and management. He has evolved from operating hotels to structuring ownership positioning for new development and then overseeing the development, construction and eventual opening of multi-branded hotels. He began his lodging career while in high school as a front desk associate and for the next 13 years worked outside the family business, serving in various management positions with the Intercontinental Hotel Group, Hyatt, Marriott International and Extended Stay America. It was during this time that he procured his Certified Hotel administrator (C.H.A.) designation. He also supervises the interior design process and manages True North's purchasing department; and is responsible for construction loan administration and investor relations. Brad Wiens has served on the Board of Directors for the Overland Park Convention and Visitor's Bureau, is a licensed real estate agent in the State of Kansas, and serves on the Residence Inn by Marriott Systems and Standards Committee.

True North Hotel Group, headquartered in Overland Park, Kan., and owned by True North Family Trust and Richard Merkel, is an established leader in hotel management and development, with  20 hotels currently open and six more under construction or in the pipeline. True North’s portfolio includes extended stay and select-service hotels within the Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and Holiday Inn brands. True North Hotel Group’s core values of service, both inside its hotels and out in its communities, has contributed to the company winning Marriott’s Partnership Circle Award – the highest accolade presented to owners and management companies – four times: in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012.

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