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Founder's Rules: Marriott to Put Copies of Bible and Book of Morman in Starwood/Westin/Sheraton Hotels...

There's a lot of pros and cons about working for a company that's still controlled by a founder.  For me, I think the pros dramatically outweigh the cons.  Every once in awhile, a little company grows into a giant that's still controlled by the founder and because they still call the shots, things get interesting related to what's important to them.

Case in point - Chick-fil-A - while the founder has passed away, the company is still run by the son - Don Cathy, who's conservative Christian views have been front and center in recent years.  There was past drama related to the Cathy's views on same-sex marriage, etc.   Since the company is still thriving, you have to guess that the service and food is still so stellar that the controversy didn't make an impact.

Here's another founder-controlled company with some new ripples - Marriott International plans to place copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in 300,000 rooms of its Marriott newly acquired Starwood, Westin, and Sheraton hotels, the Associated Press reports:

The big picture: The number of hotels that offer those kinds of religious materials fell 16% over 10 years, per the AP. Starwood-owned hotels haven't offered religious materials at all until being acquired by Marriott. But Marriott requires "its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room."

Marriott told the AP in a statement: "There are many guests who are not digitally connected who appreciate having one or both of these books available. It’s a tradition appreciated by many, objected to by few." Gideons International provides the Bibles, and the Books of Mormon are purchased with the help of the Marriott Foundation and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Other major hotel chains like Hilton and IHG, owner of Holiday Inn, let hotel managers decide whether or not to provide Bibles in their rooms.

Marriott, whose namesake founding family is active in the Mormon church, has been putting both the Bible and the Book of Mormon in its rooms since opening its first hotel in the late 1950s. Like most major chains, Marriott doesn't own the majority of its hotels. However, it stands out from the other companies by requiring — in franchise or licensing agreements — its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room.

There are some other Starwood properties acquired by Marriott that won't be get the book - the W and Moxy brands won't, for example. Turns out that condom packs in the rooms, etc - is inconsistent with the messages in the books.

A quick scan/text stream of 4-5 Marriott employees I know at decent levels in the company - and having a variety of political views - found my Marriott friends to be comfortable with the decision. They see all the progressive moves that go unnoticed by the company and are happy to shrug off the power play of 300K Bibles and Books of Morman going into rooms.

Founder-driven companies that scale are always an anomaly.  Good enough operationally to get big, small enough via the founder vibe (even at Marriott's size) to do whatever they want - damn the critics.

Long live the American entrepreneur. See you at the Westin, my home away from home, now with new books. 

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