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James T. Merkel

CEO | Rockbridge

Rockbridge CEO James ‘Jim’ Merkel has two decades of experience building hospitality investment and operating brands. Jim has always focused on building great teams while providing the vision for how to grow, lead, and strategically take advantage of an always evolving industry.

Jim’s drive and vision have positioned Rockbridge as a leader in hospitality. Under Jim’s stewardship, Rockbridge continues to grow. Its success features seven hotel funds and over 224 hotel investments in 38 states with transactions worth over $5.9 billion to date. In 2010, Jim formed RBHD, a leading hotel development and construction business. In seven years, RBHD has performed $800+ MM in renovation and ground up construction in 37 hotels.

Jim’s passion and vision extend beyond the investment world and drive a strong commitment by Rockbridge to making a difference in the communities in which it operates. In 2011, Jim created and launched RTRX (Rock the Road), a leadership and innovation event with the goal of doing good business, delivering inspiration and sharing purpose. RTRX raises money for cancer research and benefits Pelotonia, a 2-day cycling event. Through RTRX, Rockbridge has raised over $4.3 million in seven years and $1.1 million alone in 2018.

Additionally, Jim is the top, individual fundraiser in the nation for Big Brothers Big Sisters. His leadership has driven Rockbridge to raise over $1 million dollars for BBBS. Community leadership and corporate responsibility are ingrained in the culture at Rockbridge.

Jim has held key leadership positions over the last 20 years on industry boards, including the FHG Advisory Board, AHLEF Board of Trustees, and Lodging Industry Investment Council. He has been a featured speaker at many industry events and industry publications. Through dedicated service, he earned the notable Starwood Hotel and Resorts President’s Award at the annual 2014 North America Owner Conference. Jim also earned 2017 CEO and Executive of the Year honors in Columbus, Ohio from Columbus Business First Newspaper.

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