New owners of Pasco Red Lion plan roof, exterior upgrades

The new owners of the Red Lion Hotel & Conference Center in Pasco introduced themselves to the community during a recent grand re-opening ceremony by feeding everyone Indian food.

It was Kamaljit “Kam” Singh and his wife Sukhbans Shahi’s way of telling everyone present at the April 25 event that “we’re all family.”

He also told existing Red Lion employees they were going to be an important part of the process.

“I kept everyone,” Singh said. “I didn’t kick anyone out. Nobody was cut back. And I adjusted (up) some of their pay scales. I can’t run the show myself.”

Singh — under the name JODH’s Development LLC, and RRR Investment LLC, both Washington limited liability companies — bought the 279-room Pasco hotel from RL Pasco LLC and the Red Lion Hotel Corp. on Feb. 28.

The purchase price was $13.1 million and includes three acres adjacent to the hotel grounds, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The franchise agreements run for 20 years and call for hotel owners to pay RL Franchising a monthly royalty and program fees, set at a percentage of the hotel’s gross room revenue.

Either party may terminate the agreement without penalty on the fifth or 10th anniversary of the hotel’s opening date, by providing at least 180-day notice of termination.

In 2015, the Spokane-based RLHC decided to sell off its hotel properties and get into franchising.

It allows the company to benefit from its brand, yet allow franchisees to do what they do best: run hotels.

And for Singh, this isn’t his first hotel.

He owns seven hotels, including some Best Westerns and Holiday Inns, in Washington, Oregon and California.

Singh has been a businessman for almost 20 years.

“I started in business in 1999, in the food and restaurant business,” he said. “I moved into the construction business in Vancouver, B.C. In 2004, I got into the retail business with gas stations. We have 14 convenience stores in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington.”

He has a One Stop Mart convenience store and gas station on the corner of Jadwin Avenue and McMurray Street in Richland.

In 2013, the entrepreneur ventured into the hospitality business with his first hotels.

It all keeps him and his younger brother, Laddi Singh – who has been his partner for years – busy.

In addition, his younger son, Paranvir, is joining his management team.

Altogether, Singh said they have 650 to 700 employees working at their various companies, depending on the summer fluctuation.

The Pasco Red Lion has anywhere from 130 to 150 employees, depending on the time of year.

Singh, who describes himself as hands on, will have his office at the hotel.

“It’s right in the middle of everything,” he said. “I’m like 90 minutes from my other businesses in Moses Lake, Hermiston, Boardman, Mattawa. And I usually travel to them once a week.”

The first thing Singh did when he bought the hotel was tweak its name to the Red Lion Hotel & Conference Center.

“I’ve been here for two months, and every day almost there is something always going on,” he said.

That’s why the words “Conference Center” were added.

Buying the hotel was an easy decision for him.

“It was a great opportunity here,” he said. “It’s located by the airport. The land is 16 acres. This hotel has a lot of conventions and conferences. There is the food and beverages. We have Bin 20 (restaurant). There are multiple businesses under one roof.”

Speaking of roofs, that’s where the next changes have begun.

“We’ve already started on the roof,” he said. “We have some issues on the roof. But we’ll also look inside the whole property, with room updates and a better looking lobby.”

It’ll be a big investment.

“Structure-wise, we’re going to spend $3 million to $4 million to upgrade the facility,” Singh said.

He said his first priority will be the exterior of the property.

“That means landscaping, painting, roofing and the front entrance,” he said.

It’s important, he said, to get it right.

“The hotel business has bigger investments compared to retail,” Singh said. “A hotel is kind of a challenge. People need their milk and gasoline at the retail store. But when people are on a budget, they might not spend that money on a hotel room.”

This is the biggest of Singh’s hotels, and he’s excited about the challenge.

“I have some new ideas,” he said. “But I want to keep the good things going on here.”

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