Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce

Cømmunity Guide 2021 Flip Book File

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25 Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce What brought you to or why did you choose Great Falls? I was born in Great Falls. In the late '70s my mom and stepdad were in a bad car accident and we moved to Spokane to live with my grandma while they rehabilitated. Then we moved to Billings and a family friend ran the Inn until we returned to Great Falls in 1992. Why did you start your business? Dad and I took over the business in 1992 with our awesome team of employees. The family friend who was running the Inn wanted out and Dad said either we moved back to Great Falls to run it or we were selling it. I had worked in the hotel business to put myself through college, so I knew we could do it. So, we moved home. What year did you start your business? O'Haire Motor Inn opened in 1962. How many employees do you have now? A total of 47 part-time and full-time rock stars. What is unique about your business? What ISN'T unique about it? The Inn was built in 1962 incorporating everything the O'Haire brothers thought was cool at the time in the hotel industry. They were the pioneers of guest service. In 1962, they were ahead of their time by putting piped-in music into each room. Each room had their own TV and phone along with an iron and ironing board. Heck, they even built it with a heli-pad on top of the building that offered helicopter rides on the weekends. Over the years we've kept the "retro cool" items while meeting what today's travelers need and want in a hotel stay. The lounge is a whole other unique. The mermaids as well. The whole property is just not something you'd expect to find in Great Falls, but here we are! What has been your biggest success? Keeping really great employees! Over half of our employees have worked here over 15+ years. We're very lucky for that. The mermaids were a great idea and have brought us great success. Just being able to thrive as an independent hotel in today's world of chain properties is a huge success. What has been your biggest challenge? Addressing the challenges associated with the above. We're a non-chain, so we have to figure out unique ways to advertise and get our name out there. What are your plans for 2021 or in the future to grow and develop your business? We were set to have a great year prior to COVID-19. Now it's just making sure we make it through this. Anything else you would like to share or let people know about your business? Great Falls is a great place to be a small business owner. FUN FACT: I sew the mermaid tails. It's my creative outlet. If I have any downtime during the day, you can find me at my sewing machine in my office in a pile of sequins and trim. What have you done to overcome the challenge(s) of 2020? Have you been able to turn any of it into opportunities? How has it changed your way of doing business? We've had to get creative in how we do business. We have to keep our customers safe. We have to keep our employees safe. Those are our top priorities. Beyond that, we're just taking it a day at a time. We know in 2020 you did a lot for our community by providing free lunches for the students who were out of school. Can you tell us more about that? When COVID-19 first started, because of our location downtown, we saw a lot of kids who were not getting the meal provided typically by the school system as they were trying to figure out their "new normal." My really smart food and beverage manager said, "We've got to take care of these kids." So, we did. We offered free lunches, no questions asked. The most amazing thing happened. Once we started helping the kids, the community started helping us help the kids without asking. It was an amazing thing to see happen. We live in that kind of community. We've got each other's backs. I'm proud (and lucky) to continue to be the steward of this amazing building and businesses and lead this amazing team into the future, whatever that may look like. Article by Sandra Thares F E AT U R E D Q & A Photo by Photo Solutions

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