Reaching out and giving back. At 41 years old, Red Roof President George Limbert has already given a career’s worth of service to the hospitality industry. From his work as an adjunct professor of franchise law to his work with the American Hotel & Lodging Association, TourismOhio and more, he believes in sharing his knowledge and talents. And he’s just getting started.

“I think I'm the youngest CEO in this industry right now, which means I have quite a bit of runway in front of me,” he said. “I thoroughly enjoy and love what I do. Being at the helm of such an iconic hotel brand is just such an honor for me. When you can wake up every morning with a big smile on your face, you know you're in the right place.”

Family Business

Limbert grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, on the far eastern edge of the state, nearly in Pennsylvania (in mixed territory, he chose to be a fan of the Cleveland Browns instead of the Pittsburgh Steelers at a young age, for better or for worse—usually worse). The son of a father who is a lawyer and a judge and a mother who was a high school English teacher with a master’s degree, Limbert said law was the family business and education was its foundation. Two of his three siblings are lawyers and he followed in their footsteps.

“It was all about following the lead from my parents and so I wanted to be an attorney effectively from the day that I was born,” he said. “My father was an attorney. He's also currently a federal magistrate judge and so I grew up watching him go to work six days a week. I thought this this is what I wanted to do. But if he had a Greek diner I'd be working at the Greek diner. That's the path I thought I would follow.”

He first earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting from The Ohio State University, followed by his law degree from the University of Dayton. He joined a Columbus, Ohio, law firm for six years, focusing on contract negotiations and dispute resolution, business entity formation, sales and use tax issues, landlord and tenant issues, and fraud claims.

Then in 2013, Red Roof came calling. Limbert served as corporate counsel then general counsel, taking over as interim president at the end of 2020. In August of 2021, Red Roof removed the “interim” label.

The move from private law to hotel company president is not a common one, but Limbert’s family history played a part this career move as well. Limbert’s grandfather was one of the first La Quinta franchisees in Ohio and also was a Sheraton franchisee. And Limbert himself worked full-time at a hotel when he was in college.

Limbert said that lessons learned through law and hospitality actually mesh well together, starting with his judicial temperament, which he defines as understanding and seeing all sides of every aspect of every angle and making sure that all voices are heard.

“When I first came to Red Roof, I found myself in many different situations that weren't necessarily purely legal in nature,” he said. “There were conversations that were more about the business, or more about how to advance the business. Being a mediator, being someone who's drawing out the thoughts and engaging in facilitating the conversations and solutions is a role that I relished. I did well at Red Roof and in my capacity as corporate counsel and then general counsel. I think that is part of what also propelled me to the presidency.”

Getting Involved

Limbert is an advisory board member for TourismOhio, on the board of trustees for the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, on the board of directors of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and more. These roles are a great honor, Limbert said, and he has thoroughly enjoyed his work with the groups.

“To be a member of the AHLA board and to be a member of the OH&LA board, it's my way of giving back. But it's also my way of representing the voices of the 675 Red Roof franchisees and having a seat at the table to be able to help craft the future advocacy of our industry,” he said. “TourismOhio is a little bit different—it's a little bit more civic minded for me. Ohio is trying to become what they're calling the silicone heartland and tourism, of course, is a major piece of the hospitality industry—tourism is your first glimpse into an area. So I want to be part of that welcome committee for the state of Ohio to show the world, to show those future employees … I wanted to be part of that welcome team.”

Politics is another area where Limbert is active and has been most of his life. In fact, he said politics was a religion in his hometown and there’s pictures of him as a 5-year-old walking in Fourth of July parades wearing oversized campaign T-shirts.

“Northeast Ohio is a very highly politically charged area and Ohio in general being the bellwether for many presidential elections is a hotbed of political activity,” he said. “But what I always saw was an avenue for effectuating positive change and I've always been politically involved in order to help our industry. It's not something you should bury your head in the sand about, it's not something you need to be polarizing about. It's just something that I think that as a good person who's a community leader and a business leader, and an industry leader, you need to be aware of.”

While Limbert followed his father’s footsteps into the family business, his educator mother had an equally strong influence on his professional life in terms of teaching.

“I'm passionate of course about franchise law because I am now the president of a franchise company, butut I've always been passionate about franchise law. Education is at the root of my family and has been from the day we came to this country [from Greece],” he said. “For me, giving in the education realm was very important. Sharing my legal experience and now sharing my experience as president of Red Roof with young law students has been a real thrill.  I hope that they get as much out of it as I get, but it's definitely something I enjoy and wish to continue to do.”

Red Roof

Headquarters: New Albany, Ohio
Structure: Franchisor
Portfolio: 59,597 guestrooms, 674 properties