Marriott Alumni Magazine

Winter 1989 Exchange

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Page 13 of 31

J. WILLARD MARRIOTT Turn-of-the-century Utah, with statehood just four years past, retained many characteristics of the Old West frontier. And J. Willard Marriott-born near Ogden in 1900-was in many ways a frontiersman. A hard-working, caring youth, Bill was entrusted at an early age with adult responsibilities. Early experiences with his family's sheep herds helped prepare him for what was to come. He left Utah for the first time, traveling alone to San Francisco by railcar with 3,000 sheep, when he was only 14. A devout Mormon, he journeyed to New England at age 19 to serve a two-year mission for the Church. He returned to Utah and financed his education by selling woolens in logging camps throughout the North-west. He earned his bachelor's degree in history and political science from the University of Utah in 1926. He married Alice Sheets in 1927. Upon her graduation that same year, they gathered savings, a loan, and partnership funding to establish the Washington, D.C., area's first A&W root beer franchise. They added hot foods to bring in year-round business, added new locations, renamed the outlets "The Hot Shoppes," and in 1928 opened the first drive-in restaurant east of the Mississippi. By 1931 they had built a business earning $1 million in annual sales. Operations soon moved beyond restaurants as Bill Marriott became a pioneer in the airline catering industry in 1937, began managing food service in defense plants and government complexes during World War II, and by 1955 added hospital and educational food service. With people traveling more than ever, Bill Marriott's entrepreneurial instincts told him his expertise in food service could extend to lodging. In 1957 the first Marriott hotel opened, becoming the foundation for a new business that would make the Marriott name known worldwide. ~ Two new restaurant concepts soon came under the Marriott umbrella - Big Boy family restaurants in 1967 and Roy Rogers fast food in 1968. Over the years, the Marriott Corporation has grown into a diversified hospitality business. By the end of 1988, the company that Bill and Alice Marriott founded had over 4,000 operating units in lodging, contract services, and restaurants, with some 230,000 employees and more than $7 .5 billion in sales. Today Marriott Corporation continues to explore new frontiers just as Bill Marriott did until his death in 1985. 12 EXCHANGE

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