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      Supplier Stands Out with More than 100 Certified Associates

      HD Supply - Bree Lewis - Senior Manager of Industry Development

      The Educational Institute interviews Bree Lewis, CMHS, Senior Manager of Industry Development for HD Supply.  She is responsible for association engagement, overseeing the management of value proposition initiatives, industry research, and strategic plan development.  She is a member of the AH&LA Women in Lodging Council and Latino Hotel & Restaurant Association Board of Directors.

      Q: What products and services do you provide to the hospitality industry? 
      A:HD Supply Facilities Maintenance is one of nation's largest providers of operating supplies, maintenance products and FF&E. We are a single source with products to operate any hotel from plumbing to linens to HVAC to guest room amenities. We have property improvement project experts that help our customers with design services, project management and renovations product procurement and brand specialists that are brand experts to support those going through a brand conversion.

      Q: What are some of the trends impacting your work with hospitality now?  Is sustainability a major factor?
         With the economic recovery, we see more renovations and re-positioning.  As the new construction pipeline comes to fruition, the existing properties are looking for ways to remain competitive. Sustainability is a factor; anything that can save money is a focus. We are definitely seeing the adoption of sustainable lighting technology, such as LED, especially where the local utility is offering a rebate. The rebates decrease the time to see your return on investment.  Everyone likes that. In addition, we see more guest rooms being updated that include Top of Bed initiatives.

      Q: How did HD Supply learn about the Certified Master Hotel Supplier certification?  
      A: We have been members of the American Hotel & Lodging Association for quite some time and have been actively engaged in committees and events. As such we were well aware of the Educational Institute and the certifications offered.  A number of us went through the program when it was simply the Master Hotel Supplier. Geoff Feingold, Director of National Accounts and current chair of the Allied Executive Council worked with other allied members and EI to update the program, including the ability to test online.  Since then we have been putting through our associates at a faster pace. I took my exam in 2009 in the Orlando EI office; I live in San Diego. It's so much more convenient for our associates across the country to take the exam online.

      Q: What did you see as the main benefits to having employees pursue this certification?  
      A: The certification provides tangible evidence of our associate's expertise. Many of our associates come from the industry either as hotel operators or brand/corporate management. They have been in the shoes of our customers. For those who have not worked the industry, completing the curriculum required for certification provides an in depth understanding of the industry. In addition, it gives the associate more confidence and credibility when talking with a Director of Engineering, Executive Housekeeper or even a General Manager. This knowledge helps us to provide solutions to our customers.  Of our 160 hospitality sales associates that deal directly with the lodging properties, 110 have earned their CMHS. Our goal is for each of our associates that interact with our hospitality customers to achieve certification.

      Q: How has earning the CMHS made a difference in your associates' interactions with hospitality clients? 
      A: We have received positive feedback from the associates who have earned the CMHS. Each associate is proud to wear their pin and include the designation on their business cards and e-mail signature. The hospitality sales team has stated that because of the certification process they now have a better understanding of the purchasing process within a hotel and all of the various departments. They definitely have a higher confidence level and are better prepared to respond to our customers' needs. As our business continues to grow and the associates are growing their sales portfolios, the sense of pride continues to grow bigger.

      Q: Have you had any comments from your hospitality customers regarding having a CMHS-certified HD Supply representative?
         Those customers that understand or are aware of certification, definitely ask about the pin and it becomes an easy icebreaker and for those that are not aware we are educating them and that adds to the prestige of the certification. As an example, Upper Management from a Major hotel company was impressed and responded positively when we reinforced the fact that more than 100 of our Hospitality Specialists were CMHS certified. This helped the customer understand that HD Supply is serious about being experts in the Hospitality Industry so we can better serve our clients.

      Published June, 2013.

      About the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute
      Established in 1953 as a nonprofit educational foundation of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Educational Institute’s mission is to continue being the preferred provider to the lodging industry, hospitality schools, and related hospitality industries by developing and providing quality resources to train, educate, and certify hospitality professionals worldwide.