Faces in focus: New role for hotel owner

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Dave Friedrich, owner of the Hampton Inn in Carson City, is enjoying his retirement, while working to boost area tourism.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Dave Friedrich, owner of the Hampton Inn in Carson City, is enjoying his retirement, while working to boost area tourism.

Dave Friedrich is in the glory days of retirement.

He comfortably spends his time and the wealth he earned as the former head of the seventh-largest payroll company in the country, and as one recipient of its sale. He kindly declines to say how much he earned in that deal.

His demeanor is reserved but friendly, his words are chosen carefully. He is not at a loss for them, but nothing else comes spilling out that isn't supposed to.

Friedrich and his wife, Sheri, own the Hampton Inn on North Carson Street, into which they poured all their efforts and $8.4 million.

Now that the task is completed, Friedrich said his goal is to live a productive life of both business and community service.

A seat on the tourism board for a lodging representative opened recently after the departure of former chairman Sean Sever, of the Piñon Plaza. Friedrich stepped forward.

Friedrich, 50, has the time to do it. It benefits him when tourism succeeds. He understands what attracts people to the area, as the Friedrichs were tourists in Carson City before they made it their permanent home in 2003.

He's a retired professional who devoted long hours to his payroll service company in Maine, where he worked from ages 22 to 40. An investment banking company in Chicago purchased Advantage Payroll Service in 1997. The couple came West for the skiing and friendly communities. At first, they considered Incline Village.

"We decided living down here in the valley was better," he says. "It gave us access to Tahoe, but without the snow."

For more than 20 years, Friedrich worked his way up to the top of his business, often working 90-hour weeks. In the end, Advance Payroll had 100 employees, 15,000 clients and 25 franchisees. When the Hampton Inn was in the building stage, his wife conducted the tours with ebullience.

When it came to the interior design of the inn, he respectfully stepped aside to let his wife take the lead. Friedrich controlled the building aspect.

He and Sheri have traveled extensively here and abroad. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Friedrich is a fan of helicopter skiing, where you fly with a private party to a remote, snowy peak in some place like British Columbia, ski down, then meet the copter at the bottom. Sheri is devoting her time to recreation and the arts.

After the Friedrichs developed the inn, their first, the couple passed on the daily operations to a company.

The Hampton Inn is meeting its season projections, Friedrich says. In spring, he expects the weekends to be fully booked, while the weekdays will fill with the business travelers who frequent the Hilton franchise.

"It benefits me when tourism succeeds," he says in the lobby of his hotel. The morning news broadcasts on the flat screen TV. An employee rotates fresh coffee into the breakfast bar set into the contemporary-style lounge. "It's time to start giving back to the community. Carson City residents welcomed my wife and I three years ago when we came to visit from Maine."

Promoting the reconstructed Virginia & Truckee Railway is a priority for him, as is the strengthening of the convention business.

He adds that Carson City probably will not build its own free-standing convention center, but the local hotels and government buildings fulfill that market.

It's the events that bring a smile to his face. His hotel opened Sept. 13, the start of Street Vibrations in Reno.

"For a week or two, we were filled up. We had a great week. The bikers really appreciated what we did for them. We cut up plywood so they could use it for their kick stands. We gave towels to them to wipe down their bikes. Little touches like that make them feel welcome."

Carson City has the history and the high influx of business and government travelers. Reno has the events on which Carson City can piggyback.

The Friedrichs may eventually open another hotel in Nevada. But Carson City is where they are staying.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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