The Pfister Hotel Press Coverage

Part curator, part manager, Smith steps in at Pfister: Tim Smith

Almost 30 years ago, Tim Smith stepped into the general manager’s office at The Pfister Hotel to interview for his first job with Marcus Hotels & Resorts.

In mid-October, Smith returned to the office as general manager, continuing his prominent role in downtown Milwaukee, a 27-year history with The Marcus Corp., the hotel’s Milwaukee-based parent company, and work in the industry that started as a dishwasher at age 13.

Smith comes to Marcus Hotels & Resorts’ most historic and iconic location from one of its most modern — downtown Milwaukee’s InterContinental Hotel.

His favorite spot — so far — is a second-floor balcony that overlooks the lushly appointed, Victorian-style lobby, where he can watch guests come and go.

Smith fills the shoes of Paul Ohm, who moved from California to take the role in early 2013 after general manager Joe Kurth‘s departure. Ohm left to become general manager at Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel.

Smith served as general manager at the InterContinental since 2007, and previously was corporate director of sales for Marcus Hotels & Resorts. His new role became official Oct. 14.

Now Smith enters a world where front desk staffers have served for 35 years, where employees don’t bat an eye at international royalty or rock stars’ antics, and where banquet halls have catered three generations’ weddings.

The hotel was built in 1893 and offers classic examples of Victorian architecture. It was bought and renovated by Marcus Corp. founder Ben Marcus in 1962.

The Pfister boasts “unbelievable history and tradition,” Smith said. He’s part manager, part curator in the 121-year-old historic property located a few blocks from Milwaukee’s lakefront along East Wisconsin Avenue.

“It’s a very special place,” said Tom Kissinger, interim president at Marcus Hotels & Resorts.

“To continue that heritage and that culture is a challenge, but I think one (Tim) will succeed at.”

Smith’s challenge, Kissinger said, is to ensure The Pfister remains Milwaukee’s premier hotel.

Kissinger, who also serves as senior executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for The Marcus Corp., said Smith is a great motivator who is passionate about what he does.

“He’s been with us a long time,” Kissinger said, detailing why Marcus offered Smith the job.

“He’s got a proven track record. He does an outstanding job. He knows Milwaukee and the community very well. I think he’s the perfect fit for The Pfister.”

Smith feels a strong affinity for the city, serving on many local events and nonprofit boards.

He lives on Milwaukee’s east side with his wife, Peggy Williams-Smith, also a Marcus executive who he met while at the InterContinental. He readily rattles off their favorite local restaurants and talks up the city’s arts and other offerings (praise he thinks many Milwaukeeans don’t advertise enough).

“I’m probably one of the top 10 biggest cheerleaders of Milwaukee ever,” he joked.

He came to The Pfister for his first interview in the 1980s on the recommendation from an Eau Claire general manager, and remembers how friendly the city was to him even then.

Now that the office is his, Smith said he has no doubt he’ll leave his print on the place, but for now he’s settling in.

TIM SMITH

  • Title: General manager
  • Company: The Pfister Hotel, owned by Marcus Hotels & Resorts
  • Age: 53
  • Education: Undergraduate degree in accounting, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • Hometown: North Attleborro, Mass.
  • Best business decision: “It seriously is when I was offered the opportunity at the InterContinental. It gave me a whole new perspective on the hotel industry.”
  • Surprising fact about you: “I’m a ‘Fanilow’ — a fan of Barry Manilow.”
  • Favorite vacation spot: “A lot of our best times away are within a hundred miles of Milwaukee — Chicago or Green Lake or Sheboygan, or whatever it happens to be.”
  • Favorite meal to make at home: “I have an awesome stir fry recipe that one of the cooks at the InterContinental gave me last year. I’ve made it for my wife numerous times and she’s never had anything bad to say about it — and she’s vice president of food and beverage, so I’ve got a pretty tough critic.”

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