Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew J. Fay.
Andrew, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
From a very early age my mom insisted that my brothers and I experience the world beyond the small island of Tasmania where we grew up. After a stint in a hotel management training program, I landed in upstate New York at the Cornell Hotel School.
In 1988, Roger Hill and I, along with two more of our Cornell friends, founded The Gettys Group here in Chicago, focusing on interior design and procurement services for the hospitality industry.
With time we were able to expand our reach and our service offerings. Nearly 30 years later we have 120 team members in 3 offices across the globe. We’re engaged in projects in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific; and in the US in cities as diverse as Anchorage Alaska, Pocatello Idaho, and Flint Michigan. Two hundred thousand people around the world are sleeping in rooms we’ve designed every night!
Has it been a smooth road?
Major projects always have significant challenges. Naturally, lots of things are going to go astray and believe me, we’ve had plenty of examples over the years. Some are good memories now, although they didn’t necessarily seem so at the time.
Like when we were engaged to renovate over 2000 rooms at the Hyatt Regency Chicago soon after starting our business. The existing furniture was being removed from the top floor guest rooms and put on the loading docks on Lower Wacker Drive to be carted away. There was an unexpected work stoppage with the liquidators and the materials began to seriously back up. There was no way we could stop stripping the rooms because of the schedule. This was a panic situation.
So we put the word out on the street that all of this furniture and lighting were available for free—come and get it! Within an hour you could see all types of vehicles leaving Lower Wacker with armoires and nightstands strapped to them. Our problem was solved in true Chicago-style!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Gettys Group – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
While we’ve won many awards, what we’re most proud of are the opportunities we’ve been able to offer our people. We’re incredibly lucky to have such passionate, talented people working with us.
We’re able to consistently deliver great design that drives great business for our clients. Today’s increasingly sophisticated consumers expect and demand great design—everywhere—whether they are in a Hampton Inn or a Four Seasons. They’re opinionated and only too happy to share their criticisms across social media. Design is now a strategic weapon that brands use to set themselves apart and up for success.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
As we’ve evolved as a business, it’s been great to watch the city evolve into the world-class hospitality destination it is today. We’re very proud to have played a role in that progress. I believe Chicago is truly one of the world’s best-kept secrets. In our travels around the globe we endlessly talk up the city; we’re true advocates and ambassadors.
We’re incredibly excited about Chicago’s future as an architectural, gastronomic and cultural mecca.
Any final thoughts?
At Gettys, our mantra is “Think Big. Go Bold. Have Fun.” I think “fun” is the most important word here. Love what you do. Life’s too short!
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