AS PART OF Red Lion Hotel Corp.’s ongoing leadership shakeup, the chairman of the company’s board of directors Robert Wolfe announced he would retire at the end of December. Independent Director R. Carter Pate will succeed him.
The announcement of Wolfe’s retirement after seven years follows former RLH Corp. CEO Greg Mount’s departure from the company in what Wolfe called a “necessary action” in part to stop the exit of franchisees from the system. John Russell, Jr. is currently serving as interim CEO to replace Mount while the search for a permanent CEO continues.
“As I considered RLH Corp.’s ongoing evolution and my retirement plans, I determined that this would be an appropriate time to transition the board to new leadership,” Wolfe said in a statement. “It is time for clear focus on the opportunities ahead. As the company transitions to new leadership at the chief executive officer position, it will be important to have close collaboration between the CEO and board chair to achieve RLH Corp.’s vision.”
Pate, who has been on the company’s board since May, said RLH Corp. is at “a juncture in its evolution.”
“Adherence to strategy execution is vital to completing a successful transformation to a fee-based franchise company,” he said. “The timing of the chairman transition should dovetail nicely with RLH Corp.’s search for a permanent chief executive officer. I look forward to applying learnings from previous experience to RLH Corp.’s strategy and guiding management’s efforts to grow the brand and enhance the Company’s financial performance.”
Pate recently served as interim CEO at The Providence Service Corp., a position he had held since 2017. He also is founder and CEO of consulting and investment firm Carter Pate, LLC, begun in 2014. He also was CEO of MV Transportation from 2011 to 2014 and he was the global and U.S. managing partner of healthcare and government practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Pate is a certified public accountant in Texas and holds a master’s degree in accounting and information management from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Greensboro College.
RLH Corp.’s Nominating and Governance Committee is reviewing whether to replace one or both of its board seats left empty by Wolfe’s retirement and Pate’s succession. The company also has hired AETHOS Consulting Group to assist in the search for a new CEO.
When Mount stepped down in November, then chairman Wolfe said the new leadership would be part of a plan to restore confidence in the company. The board will focus on providing better service to franchisees, as well as “right-sizing the cost structure of the business to reflect RLH’s current size, revenue and profitability requirements.”
Amish Patel, CHO for AMP Hospitality Management in Palm Harbor, Florida, who last year urged his fellow Knights Inn owners to be patient with the transition, said he was taking his hotels out of the RLH Corp. system.
“Every owner I’ve spoken with has been unhappy,” Amish said. “I’m basically taking both of my hotels away from them.”