2017 Veterans of Influence Veterans’ Champions Award: Westgate Resorts

Oct 05, 2017

By Anjali Fluker – Associate Managing Editor, Orlando Business Journal

At 82 years old, David Siegel is still known as the timeshare king — but it’s clear to his workforce and clients that he’s also a military veteran.

The founder, president and CEO of Orlando-based Westgate Resorts and the company’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Waltrip both served in the U.S. Air Force, and CFO Tom Dugan is a U.S. Army veteran. The leaders' continued support of their military brothers and sisters trickles down throughout the organization.

In fact, Westgate Resorts supports the nation’s military in three ways: veteran employment, philanthropic support and with its annual tradition of honoring military personnel and their families with free vacations. In the last six years, the company honored our nation’s heroes and their loved ones with more than 23,000 free room nights at Westgate Resorts properties.

The timeshare company took that a step further earlier this year with its Westgate Military Weekend, providing more than 1,000 military families nationwide a free two-night, three-day vacation at the Westgate Vacation Villas & Town Center Resort in Orlando.

For its contributions, Westgate Resorts won Orlando Business Journal’s 2017 Veterans of Influence Veterans’ Champion Award.

How does your company help employees transition from being deployed to returning to work here? We listen to our team members to gain an understanding of their skill set and how we can transition that military experience to a civilian role. This includes an initial assessment to discover a role that provides a good fit. We then support them by planning any additional training to bridge the gaps, so their military experience transfers successfully to a civilian role. We train in-house and offer tuition reimbursement for trade schools and universities.

What qualities make veterans great job candidates? Veterans offer a multitude of qualities from their military careers that translate to the knowledge, skills and abilities needed in civilian roles. Our veterans’ creativity and feedback remains an essential ingredient to our success.

What’s next for your company when it comes to military vets? Veterans are a focus for us in our talent-acquisition pipeline. We seek veterans and value their character as well as their wide array of experience and training that easily translates into team-member roles in Westgate’s large workforce.

Advice to companies that want to make military vets feel valued in the workplace: Start by looking at your talent-acquisition pipelines to confirm successful onboarding of your current military hires. Then move internally and empower military veterans to establish a committee, share ideas about what makes them feel valued, and give them the ability to deliver on the ideas that are the best fit for the culture and business.

Westgate Resorts

Description: One of the nation’s largest timeshare resort developers that owns and operates 28 themed destination resorts with 13,000 rooms and villas in Orlando, Miami and Cocoa Beach, as well as Park City, Utah; Las Vegas; Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Williamsburg, Va.; Branson, Mo.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Tunica, Miss.

Corporate address: 5601 Windhover Drive, Orlando 32819

Total employees: 8,582

2016 revenue: $1.24 billion

Contact: (407) 351-3351

Twitter handle: @WestgateResorts