University of Delaware
Corporate executive Lance Shaner discusses his extensive business ventures during the annual Chaplin Tyler Executive Leadership Lecture Series.

Tyler Lecture

Visionary leader Lance Shaner addresses UD faculty and students


8:51 a.m., Nov. 1, 2012--A miss of the draft, an interest in investments nobody else wanted and a dedication to hard work helped Lance Shaner, chairman and CEO of the Shaner Group, become a success, the businessman told a crowd of faculty and students last week at the annual Chaplin Tyler Executive Leadership Series.

Hosted by the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the lecture series brings leaders from business, nonprofit organizations and the government to campus to share their experiences and insights with students, faculty and the business community in an open exchange of ideas and perspectives.

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“Lance is a great business leader who has been successful in multiple business sectors by bringing strategic ideas and vision to his work,” said Lerner College Dean Bruce Weber, who welcomed attendees. “His commitment to business and dreams for success are a lesson that everyone can learn from.”

Shaner, who was a student in the 1970s at Alfred (N.Y.) University in New York and who was not selected for the Vietnam era draft, talked about his career path and methods for creating success and value in business during the lecture.

By entering the corporate world as a contrary investor, Shaner said he made unpopular investments as part of a unique approach to managing capital and keeping people motivated.

Shaner launched Shaner Development Corp. with his brother, Fred, early in his career. The firm entered the real estate and hospitality industries, acquired a large regional oil company, and developed and managed a cable television system.

In the early 1980s, Shaner said he and his brother purchased their first hotels and started the Shaner Hotel Group.

According to Shaner, around that same time real estate in the United States faced an extreme depression with massive overbuilding.

“I invested in and brought new capital to struggling businesses so they could reproduce,” said Shaner. “By forming partnerships I started acquiring real estate assets and my investments started to improve.”

He also emphasized during the lecture experimentation and performance as key factors that can lead to advancement and success. 

“Mutual respect of all associates and clients of the company ensures that associates can ask questions about the business openly and freely,” said Shaner. “And experimentation is a process that means taking chances and taking losses, but if you keep doing doubles all the time you will do very well and eventually you will strike.”

Overall, Shaner has become a front-runner leading companies in finance, venture capital, real estate development and strategic investment advice by following its mission and formula for success: “hard work, commitment to growth and a genuine concern for customers and associates alike.”

“The best part is to make it all fun,” added Shaner.

When asked by a student what was most rewarding for him in his career, Shaner said it was being able to personally get involved with charities and make a difference in hundreds of lives.

Prior to the lecture, Shaner met with 10 graduate business students for a roundtable discussion. According to Kim Ragan, administrative assistant in the Graduate and Executive Programs office, the process for students to have the opportunity to meet with Shaner was competitive.

“The students submitted applications and were chosen based on their answers to questions and their GPA,” explained Ragan. “Prior to their visit with Mr. Shaner the students met with the Lerner Career Services Center to discuss meeting etiquette and to practice posing questions to a local business leader before brainstorming what they wanted to ask Mr. Shaner. They also continued to work together during the two weeks prior to his visit to discuss other logistics of the meeting.”

Headquartered in State College, Pa., Shaner Group now consists of a family of companies including Shaner Hotel Group, which grew as a result of expertise in contract negotiations and acquisitions from a 17-hotel company to 53 hotels in 20 states.

Bill Sullivan, managing director of the Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware, attended the lecture and noted that the hotel on campus is part of the Shaner Hotel Group.

“The hotel serves as a learning laboratory for our Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) students,” said Sullivan. “Through this lecture, students got a firsthand glimpse of how Lance achieved his success.” 

Fred J. DeMicco, ARAMARK Professor in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management, also attended and commented that he has worked with the Shaner Group as part of an internship program with Shaner Italia Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Tuscany. 

DeMicco added, “Shaner has been instrumental in helping UD students prepare for careers in a burgeoning global hotel industry.”

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