Changing Skylines and Building Landmarks
Michael Hite will be the first to tell you that he’s not a musician.
Nevertheless, Michael conducts his own opera of sorts on each of his large-scale hospitality projects, skillfully coordinating client relationships, choreographing interactions between hundreds of trade partners and implementing a philosophy of start-to-finish operational excellence to deliver iconic hotels and convention centers.
As a former superintendent and now as a Field Operations Director, Michael has served Balfour Beatty’s hospitality clients in many markets across the U.S. No matter their location, these projects require the decades of experience, deep industry networks and trusted leadership that Michael brings to every development.
From Designer to Builder
When his collegiate education as an architect was already well underway, Michael realized the rise of digital design signaled a major change in the industry. Computers were a useful and efficient tool, but the artistry lost some of its magic for Michael when he couldn’t put pencil to paper.
He quickly changed course, realizing he wanted to build structures instead of designing them. After attending construction trade school for four years, he soon found himself working for a mechanical contractor in Florida on the Miami Beach Convention Center project.
“That was my first exposure to big jobs, strategic planning, the implications of large-scale projects and the choreography of it all,” Michael recalls. “I didn’t yet understand that I was on the precipice of my career, but I was amazed and intrigued by it.”
Michael began cultivating his expertise in large hospitality construction by intentionally seeking out mentorship opportunities to learn the unique complexities of this market. This soon led to a brush with destiny on Balfour Beatty’s Broward County Arena project—and a life-changing job opportunity soon thereafter.
The Best Experts in Any Geography
Nearly 30 years later, Michael is one of our leading national experts in hospitality construction and has led projects that have become household names in their communities such as the two-million-square-foot Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. The project brought his family to their now permanent home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and remains one of the most iconic hospitality centers in the region, encompassing 460,000 square feet of convention space and 1,814 guest rooms.
Balfour Beatty identified a team of hospitality experts from across Florida and Texas to lead the project, each group contributing unique talents and perspectives but united by a common mission.
“The merging of our talent enabled us to deliver the best final product for our client,” Michael says. “Our strong, unifying culture makes it possible to send the right people to the right places for the right jobs.”
The “Mints on Pillows” Approach to Excellence
Michael’s impact on the North Texas hospitality market was only just beginning on the Gaylord Texas. More recently, he served as superintendent for the Omni Dallas Convention Center and Hotel, a $331 million design-build project completed in 2011 for developer Matthews Southwest.
Michael still counts Omni Dallas among his top three “greatest hits.” Early in pursuit, the team committed to a fast-paced 30-month schedule. Shortly after the groundbreaking, Michael—with the buy-in of the entire project team and trade partners—committed to further expediting the already compressed schedule by an additional two months. They ultimately exceeded expectations and delivered the 1.1-million-square-foot complex in just under 26 months.
“The Omni Dallas was an incredibly high-quality project in all the ways we measure success – financially, structurally and architecturally,” Michael recalls. “We had everything from mints on pillows to locally commissioned artwork installed throughout the facility. We had it all.”
The project also completed with more than 2.5 million total hours worked without a single lost time incident. Keeping jobsites safe is Michael’s deeply personal responsibility to his teammates, clients and communities, and he’s proud to lead projects that exemplify Balfour Beatty’s Zero Harm commitment.
On the Road Again
Michael recently returned to his Florida construction roots on the Broward County Convention Center and Omni Hotel Expansion project in Fort Lauderdale, another Matthews Southwest partnership.
Michael views the nearly $1 billion project as another incredible opportunity to build a lasting community and tourism hub. Most importantly, it’s another chance to join Balfour Beatty teams in different regions and foster trade relationships that share our values.
“You have to be willing to engage your teams and partners with daily conversation, clear communication and fair and honest treatment,” Michael says. “That sometimes requires tough conversations and tough calls, but when your heart’s in the right place, it works out for the betterment of the project itself and for everyone involved.”
Building lasting relationships with like-minded trade partners pays dividends. In every market where Michael has worked, he knows he can count on trusted trade partners to fully engage with Balfour Beatty’s most important goals: safety, quality, innovation and accountability.
Lasting Community Impact
Even if given the opportunity, Michael wouldn’t change any step in his storied career—but he still has work to do.
As he looks ahead to the future, no matter the location, Michael is proud to say how much Balfour Beatty’s projects impact communities where our teams live and work. He and his teams deliver incredible facilities, but their art lives on for decades more as thriving centers for employment,
hospitality and community events – as Michael realized on a visit to the Gaylord Texan years after its grand opening.
“I was able to sit and observe this facility that employs over 2,000 workers and enables so many other vendors and services to exist,” Michael recalls. “I realized that we make so much of an impact in the community and the trajectories of so many families. What we do makes a difference, and it matters.”