Heart of America Group doesn’t just operate hotels and restaurants — it engineers, designs, builds, and operates them, all with the intent that the company will be owning them for many years and bringing value to customers and to the communities in which they reside.
The Moline, Illinois-based company has grown considerably since it opened its first restaurant in 1978, The Machine Shed, a 100-seat restaurant in Davenport, Iowa, that was dedicated to the American farmer. Forty years later, the company, led by CEO Mike Whalen, owns and operates 35 hotels and restaurants in seven states, including Hilton, Marriott, and Holiday Inn & Suites locations, as well as brands including Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, The Republic on Grand, Hotel Renovo, Wildwood Lodge, Thunder Bay Grille and The J Bar.
Placing High Value on Customer Perception
“We are unique in that we have a life-cycle mentality, rather than a simple initial cost mentality, when it comes to our properties,” Whalen says. “We have a design department and five architects on staff, in addition to our own construction division. We place high value on the customer’s perception of us and their comfort while they are on our properties.”
That mentality particularly applies to the entrances of its hotels and restaurants, where Whalen seeks to not only provide a secure entry way for customers, but also an entrance that displays exellence in design, elegance, and quality – elevating the customer’s overall perception of the property. “The old cliché that you get only one chance to make a first impression is painstakingly true of a hotel,” Whalen explains.
Beautiful Lobby with Blasts of Cold Air
Whalen and his team explored the possibility of implementing revolving doors after their national chain partners imposed licensing agreements that required automatic doors for entrances. “I was sitting in our brand new, beautiful lobby that had an automatic sliding door, and every time someone walked into the hotel, cold air rushed in,” Whalen explains. Moving forward, Whalen and his team are choosing to use Boon Edam’s TQA automatic revolving doors for hotel properties and BoonAssist TQ manual revolving doors for restaurants. Both types of revolving doors fit the company’s design profile while minimizing unwanted weather intrusion.
“When our customers see a Boon Edam revolving door on our property, we think they view us as a higher class structure,” Whalen explains. “And from an energy management standpoint, the doors keep the cold air out, especially in the winter.”
Both the TQA automatic and the BoonAssist TQ manual revolving doors from Boon Edam are metal-framed doors with glass sidewalls and door wings. The TQA is a completely “hands free” automatic door that starts rotating when it senses that a user is approaching. The BoonAssist TQ manual door is unique in the industry because it combines three features: power assist, speed control and positioning: all three features combine to relieve users of extra effort, keep users safe, and make entry more intuitive. Its modern design employs electricity and can therefore be fitted with additonal security options that can be customized to an application, such as adding an access control system to allow managers entry after closing hours.
Whalen has been pleased with the level of customer service that he’s received from the Boon Edam team. “They have been very responsive to any issues. There was nothing that we were unhappy with in regard to the basic engineering or the quality of the finishes of the product. They operate great, and the perception [of them] is great.”