John Willard Marriott was born on 17th September and was an American businessman who became a billionaire through founding the Marriott Corporation which was a hospitality company. This company grew to become the biggest hospitality, hotel chain and food services company in the world.
Marriott was born at Marriott Settlement near Ogden in Utah and was bought up on a farm owned by his father. From an early age he was given a lot of responsibility and he was raised as a devout Mormon. When he was 19 he carried out missionary work of the church for two years in New England. While passing through Washington D.C in the sweltering heat he noticed how fast a push cart peddler managed to sell his ice cream and soda. After he graduated from the University of Utah in 1926 he decided to return to Washington D.C and start up a business there.
In 1927 he got the franchise rights for A&W Root Beer for Washington D.C and Richmond in Virginia. With his business partner Hugh Colton he then set up a nine-stool root beer stand in Washington which opened on 20th May 1927. As it became colder Mexican food was added to the menu and the stand was renamed “The Hot Shoppe”. In 1928 he opened the first drive-in near the Mississippi and this business was incorporated into Hot Shoppes Inc. in 1929. The business expanded in the Second World War to incorporate the management of food services in government buildings like the U.S. Treasury.
In 1953 the company went public and in 1957 the business expanded into hotels. It was during this year that the first Marriott hotel was opened- the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
In 1967 the business became Marriott Inc., and the Big Boy family restaurant company was incorporated. In 1968 the Roy Rogers Family Restaurant company was also added to the chain. The company expanded over the years going on to provide in-flight food service and food service for schools and colleges. They also now own two theme parks.
The Marriott Corporation became Marriott International in 1993.
Marriott died on 13th August 1985 and by this time his company operated 1400 restaurants and had 143 hotels and resorts, and had earned around $4.5 billion in revenue each year. The company had 154,600 employees and had even extended into a line of cruise ships.