Best Western honors Madison businessman with prestigious award

MADISON BUSINESSMAN Brian Kern is named Developer of the Year by Best Western Hotels and Resorts. He credits his "dynamic team" with the accomplishments which merited the award.

Local businessman Brian Kern doesn't let the grass grow under his feet.

The owner and president of Rosebud Wood Products is also a local developer, expanding Lake Area Townhomes with a 21-unit building this year, and a hotelier. A week ago, he opened the Best Western Glo at Dawley Farm Village in Sioux Falls.

At the same time, Kern was named Developer of the Year by Best Western Hotels.

"This is as good as it gets," said Rod Lindquist, vice president of development for Makenda, LLC, the company through which Kern has been engaged in hotel development.

He credits the award to the work Makenda, LLC has done in the past year or so, completing four projects in three communities. A Best Western Plus was opened in St. Peter, Minn.

The Best Western Glo was recently opened in Sioux Falls. According to the corporate website, the Glo brand targets an audience which is looking for "bold options to work smarter, play harder and live healthier on the road."

"The theme is very, very, very contemporary," Lindquist said. This is not only evident in the building's design but also in the furnishings and the technology available.

In addition, Makenda, LLC purchased a Ramada hotel in Waterloo, Iowa, gutted it and remodeled it. It will be opening with both a Best Western Plus and an Executive Residency by Best Western. The corporate website indicates the latter offers "stylish comforts and affordable home-away-from-home extras," such as a kitchenette and suites designed for longer stays.

In October 2019, when Makenda, LLC was working out an agreement with the Waterloo City Council for this project, Lindquist was quoted as saying the project would "take a very tired property and make it brand new." The assessed value of the property was expected to increase from $1.6 million to $9.5 million as a result of the renovation.

Lindquist indicated pride in both Kern and in the projects they have completed.

"Here you happen to have a guy that you see every day being recognized by Best Western worldwide as Developer of the Year," Lindquist said. "He deserves this so much."

Kern isn't willing to take credit for all of the work which led to the award.

"The people around me made it happen," he said, naming both Lindquist and Gewei Cheng, the controller Kern said is "in charge of the global picture."

Kern was surprised to be named Developer of the Year, in part because he thought the folks in Phoenix, Ariz., might have gotten tired of visiting with him. After signing up for four franchises, he engaged in numerous conversations involving value engineering, a way of reducing costs while increasing functionality.

"You don't want to compromise their brand, but you don't want to overbuild, either," he said.

The goal was to save money while ensuring the new construction would be structurally sound. Kern said that creates a win-win situation for the developer. In this case, his suggestions also proved to be win-win for others affiliated with Best Western.

"They used that [Kern's ideas] with their other developers," he said. "At the end of the day, they can build these [hotels] for less money as well."

While Kern was honored to accept the award last week, he believes he did it on behalf of his team.

"We have a really dynamic team that made this happen," he said.

Tom Busch, director of development for Best Western Hotels, did not offer any insight into why Kern was selected to receive the award, but he did say the company is "especially pleased" to have Kern as a partner.

"We are extremely proud to be associated with Brian's talented team," Busch indicated via text.