When asked to describe his current role at TS2 Hospitality, a hotel development, ownership, and management company based in the Kansas City area, Tom Koenigsfeld jokes, “I’m a managing partner, slash CEO, slash IT guy, slash laundry attendant. It just depends on the day.”
Tom formed TS2 in 2016 with his brother-in-law, Steve Ehrhardt, and father-in-law, Spike Ehrhardt. The Ehrhardt story is a real-life example of the American dream: Spike started his career as a fast-food restaurant manager in the 1960s, and with several sons joining the business, the family ultimately owned and operated a small empire of over 60 Hardee’s locations before shifting the business to hotel ownership and management in the 1990s.
Through TS2 Hospitality, Tom manages four of the Ehrhardt family’s 32 franchised hotels and oversees new project development in the Greater Kansas City area. He enjoys the flexibility to retain the locally-owned, small-company culture that he feels sets them apart from larger service-industry companies, while also having access to the size and scale of a company with over 800 employees spread across Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois.
For Tom, business ownership and leadership have always been the dream. He started washing cars and doing yard work when he was fourteen, worked in a corporate setting as a young adult, and nearly bought a business with his father before joining forces with his in-laws in the hotel business. Since then, he’s never looked back.
So, what drives Tom in his daily work? “My wife and I did a family mission, vision, and values exercise a couple of years ago,” he shares. “Our family’s mission is to love God, be a light, and serve others. Our values are love, integrity, gratitude, hospitality, and trust. If you compare that to our vision and values at TS2 Hospitality, there’s a great deal of alignment and a similar driving force.”
And that driving force is people.
When it comes to building a successful business, Tom emphasizes the importance of prioritizing employees, building relationships, and helping team members grow and develop. “That’s what gets me excited to get up and do this every day,” he affirms.
“We achieve excellence through others by seeing them find the best in themselves.”
His enthusiasm for people can be seen in a simple fact: of the organization’s fourteen managers, nine were promoted into their current positions from within rather than being hired externally. “People development is a big part of building a healthy culture,” Tom emphasizes. “It’s wonderful to be able to promote someone to a manager position who really understands what the experience of working here is supposed to be like for those they lead and support.”
Tom has recently found himself in a rare moment of pause—although two new projects are currently in development, there’s no active construction underway. Tom loves the building and construction side of his work when new hotels take real shape for the first time. Still, he is also excited to use this time to focus on leadership development and operational excellence, furthering his goal of pouring into and building up people throughout the company.
Tom would be the first to say it: we all struggle and have areas of growth. “For me, there’s a fear of failure, a tendency to be a perfectionist, and a bit too much interest in what others think of me,” he shares. And what better place to work to balance and grow in those areas than in community?
When Tom moved to Kansas City, he didn’t know many people, so when an acquaintance connected him with the Acumen community, he was excited to get involved. And over five years later, he still loves having the opportunity to walk the journey with other like-minded business leaders.
“The biggest value of joining Acumen has definitely been getting ‘off the island.’ It’s so easy to believe you’re the only one dealing with the problems and stress of business ownership. But now I have a whole community of people sharing how they’re in similar situations, so I can build these relationships and know I’m not alone. We help each other figure out how to do life as business owners while being good spouses, parents, and Christians, and we provide each other with accountability in all those areas—we can call each other out when needed.”
Tom’s other formative community is, of course, his family. “I’m in a phase of life that’s all about the kids,” he laughs. “My wife and I are working to strike a balance where that’s not all we are anymore, but the reality is I haven’t played golf since my 10-year-old was born, and I care deeply about savoring the limited time we have with our kids.” Tom and his wife, Stacey, have three children, and they love spending quality time together more than anything.
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November 9, 2023