One-on-One with PM Hotel Group's Joseph Bojanowski

Joseph Bojanowski’s journey in the hotel industry has taken him full circle from a Polish neighborhood in Philadelphia, around the United States to China and back to that Polish neighborhood in Philadelphia. And because his hospitality journey isn’t over yet, the president of PM Hotel Group is ready to begin the 25-year-old company’s next quarter century.

Bojanowski spent his early years in Philadelphia near his grandparents, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Poland. He is one of six children (five sons and one daughter), and his father was an entrepreneur. With six growing children, his father decided it was a smart idea to invest in a grocery store.

“It was so much fun. We literally used to go shopping on Sunday evening at 5 p.m. after the store closed,” Bojanowski said. “We would take a shopping cart and just go through the store and get what we wanted, no check-out required. We would bag the goods and put it in our car and head home.

“It was a good childhood. Lots of lessons from the immigrant grandparents who worked hard to make a life for themselves and for their child in this country and then ultimately for my siblings and myself.”

Branching Out

Joseph Bojanowski
Joseph Bojanowski (PM Hotel Group)

Bojanowski attended the University of Arizona as a business administration major, working for DoubleTree Hotels during his junior and senior years.

“I was offered a position upon getting out of school to join them in the West, and then eventually was transferred to the DoubleTree in Washington, D.C., and Crystal City … and then I was transferred up to Newport, R.I., and then to Ohio and then down to South Florida where I was living when PM Group was being formed.”

Bojanowski began his career on the food-and-beverage side before moving on to attain a what he called a more rounded hospitality education.

“I started in beverage marketing but I really had no operational experience,” he said. “So I thought I should go to work in operations and figure out what I was marketing and how the business was really run.”

After a few years, Bojanowski’s wife, who also is in the hotel industry, introduced Bojanowski to Dave Pollin and Greg Miller, two of the founders of PM Hotel Group.

“We eventually connected and they had construction and feasibility experience but very little operational experience in hotels and so I joined in that capacity,” Bojanowski said. “That was just after the first hotel had opened and we very quickly open the second hotel, then acquired the third and built the fourth. I then had a lot of that volume going with the on the development side and I transitioned into the position of leading the new-builds and overseeing that whole process from working with interior designers, the brands and the architects and then into operating supplies and inventories, hiring a staff and getting the hotels up and going while we opened hotels in the Washington, D.C., area and Delaware and Boston and a number of places up and down the East Coast.

He transitioned into the VP of operations, which led to his next big move: China, where he was president of the company’s PM Hospitality Strategies, Asia Pacific division until mid-2009, becoming PM Hotel Group’s president in 2011.

25th Anniversary

Hitting the quarter-century mark this year is cause for celebration and some introspection.

“We do take a look at that and what it means to us and we’re pretty reinvigorated,” Bojanowski said. “Obviously last year was a difficult year for us as well as everybody else in this industry but we’re reinvigorated, we’re looking forward, we’re going to continue to grow. We will grow strategically and will grow at a level that brings scale and efficiencies and all the things that benefit our owners and provide opportunity for our associates, but we’ll do it strategically.”

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The company has continued to grow and evolve over the years, which is the reason Bojanowski has stayed with PM despite other opportunities.

“We started out developing hotels and being more of an operator for our affiliates to being a full-fledged third-party management company now,” he said. “But what hasn’t changed through all of that has been the core values of the company and they resonate with me and keep me engaged. They also have attracted like-minded individuals who are extremely talented, who I get to work with every day and it keeps it exciting and it keeps it new.”

Full Circle

A few years ago, PM was involved with the acquisition, renovation and repositioning of the Sheraton Society Hill in Bojanowski’s hometown, converting it to a Marriott property. The morning of the ribbon cutting, he went for a run, as the dedicated runner often does.

“I was running along the Delaware River and I saw a sign for Port Richmond, which is where my grandparents originally settled in a little row house when they first got to the U.S.,” he said. “That morning as we were about to cut the ribbon on this $100-million-plus project, I ran by my grandparents little row house in the Polish neighborhood of Philadelphia. That afternoon I was on stage and on camera with the mayor of Philadelphia cutting a ribbon. It was quite the journey from about a couple of miles away over that 40-year period of time to where we were that day so it was a pretty special day.”