Founder, Chairman & CEO of John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts
|For decades, John Q. Hammons has been a leading innovator in the lodging industry. He is well known for his shrewd market analysis and for creating signature-style, full-service hotels. In his 51 years in the hotel business as of 2010, Hammons has developed 210 hotel properties across the country, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Hammons grew up during the Great Depression on a farm in Fairview, Missouri. He attended Southwest Missouri Teachers College, now Missouri State University. He entered the hotel industry in 1958, joining with Roy E. Winegardner to purchase 10 Holiday Inn franchises from founder Kemmons Wilson. The duo formed Winegardner & Hammons Incorporated (WHI) a hotel development company, in 1959 in Cincinnati, Ohio. By the late 1960s, WHI had built 33 Holiday Inn hotels. Hammons later formed Springfield, Missouri-based John Q. Hammons Hotels, Inc. in 1969.
Today, John Q. Hammons Hotels, Inc. is traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol “JQH,” and operates properties nationwide under the Embassy Suites, Renaissance, Marriott, Radisson, Sheraton, Holiday Inn brands, as well as its own signature Plaza brand. The company owns or manages more than 80 hotels and is considered to be the leading independent builder and manager of hotel meeting space in the country.
Hammons’ approach to business includes embracing change, developing a plan of action, forging ahead in good times and bad, buying land, committing to quality, giving back, keeping your word. The result of his approach is an impressive reputation and stellar career few in the worldwide hotel industry can match. His life is the subject of a book, “They Call Him John Q.: A Hotel Legend.”
Hammons was the 2003 recipient of the coveted Corporate Hotelier of the World award sponsored by HOTELS magazine. He also was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Holiday Inn and was the first person outside of the Hilton Corporation to receive Hilton’s Connie Award.
Hammons’ contributions to sports in Missouri and around the country are numerous. He funded the construction of the Hammons Student Center on the campus of Missouri State University and developed a country club in Springfield that became one of the premier facilities in the Midwest. He has developed golf clubs in other cities as well. For his efforts on behalf of sports, Hammons was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 2002, received the esteemed Missouri Sports Legend award from the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. In 1994, he donated the land and building to house the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield. In 2000, Hammons was inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame.
Hammons and his wife, Juanita, live in Springfield, Missouri, and are active in the community, funding the Hammons Heart Institute and Hammons Life Line Helicopter for St. John’s Regional Health Center; the Hammons Student Center, Hammons Fountains, Hammons House Dormitories, and Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts at Missouri State University; and the Hammons School of Architecture at Drury University. Hammons is the founder and builder of the University Plaza Development, consisting of hotels, convention centers, office buildings and a baseball park.