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Bruce White: A Hospitality Icon


Bruce White founded White Lodging in 1985 with a single hotel in Northwest Indiana, ultimately growing the business into one of the industry’s largest privately held development, ownership and management companies. He passed away in early 2023.

Throughout his career, Bruce White developed, owned, and managed more than 225 new hotels over the last 35 years on behalf of White Lodging and with the support of other valued partners.

With hotels in some of the country’s most coveted urban destinations, White Lodging remains family-owned and headquartered in Northwest Indiana—where Bruce White’s legacy began.
White Lodging's founder, Bruce White, rests against a blue and white vintage pickup truck, surrounded by fields and mountain ranges.
A herd of antelope in the desert.
An aerial view of a grassy field with mountains in the background.

From Carlton Lodges To J.W. Marriotts

Bruce White had a vision when he first took over several small Carlton Lodges in Indiana nearly 40 years ago. He wanted to be the best. He wanted to take risks. He wanted to make a difference. This combination earned him trust with partners and quickly gained the attention of one of the most influential individuals in the hospitality industry: J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr.

“Marriott’s relationship with Bruce White and White Lodging has been going strong for decades and that’s a testament to our shared values and our belief that people are at the heart of this business,” said Mr. Marriott, Chairman Emeritus of Marriott International. “Bruce embodied that value. It isn’t often in business that you have the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with a partner for decades – it has been our distinct privilege to do just that with Bruce and the team at White Lodging.”

Bruce White’s relationship with Marriott flourished over the years beginning when he built and opened the first Fairfield Inn franchise (in Merrillville, Ind.) in 1990, followed by the first franchised Marriott headquarter convention hotel (Marriott Indianapolis) in 2001, the first dual-branded property (Courtyard & Residence Inn Austin Downtown) in 2006, and the largest JW Marriott in the world (JW Marriott Indianapolis) in 2011. For many years, Bruce White was Marriott’s largest independent franchisee.

Bruce White accelerated White Lodging’s growth in 2006 when he sold 100 of its suburban hotels. The proceeds were reinvested in new hotel developments where at one time the company was developing and opening more than ten hotels every year. In 2018, White Lodging sold 82 hotel management contracts and began a strategic shift to a concentrated urban portfolio with more complex hotels that deliver memorable and elevated guest experiences. In 2022, Bruce White sold the company’s remaining suburban hotels and management contracts to re-focus all efforts on urban and experiential hotels.
A tall hotel at night

Deep Community Involvement

Be a learner, be a leader, be a friend. These were the words Bruce White expressed to his children each day they went to school. This simple phrase beautifully captures Bruce White’s three-word philosophy on life, family, business, leadership, and philanthropy: Educate, Enhance, and Enjoy.

In recent years Bruce White and the White Family stepped up their philanthropic support, aligned with this three-word philosophy. Over the past five years, Bruce White has invested or pledged more than $100 million in legacy investments from family foundations that are designed to transform communities.

This includes the expansion of inner-city youth education and several state-of-the-art community centers and YMCA facilities in Northwest Indiana named for Bruce’s parents, and tens of millions of dollars in support of business and hospitality education at his alma mater—Purdue University.

“In all its history, Indiana has produced few citizens the equal of Bruce White,” said Purdue University President Emeritus and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. “In a spectacular business career, his imagination and boldness created opportunities and wealth for thousands of others. He invested enormously of his energy and personal resources in trying to build the prosperity and quality of life of his beloved Northwest Indiana. And, of course, as trustee, donor, and advocate, he was a central figure in building the Purdue University of today. We cannot replace him; we will remember him with the deepest gratitude always.”

In honor of the White Family’s philanthropic support of Purdue and successful entrepreneurship, it renamed the hospitality school and undergraduate business institute after Bruce and White Lodging.

Bruce White graduated from Purdue University, the Harvard Graduate School of Business O.P.M. Program and was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales.

He was a finalist for HOTEL magazine’s Global “Corporate Hotelier of the Year” and a member of the inaugural class of the Purdue University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Hall of Fame. Bruce White was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Purdue University in 2011 where he served through early 2015. He is also a member of Purdue University’s Business Hall of Fame.

Bruce White has been recognized with the IHLA Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hunter Hotel Developer Award for Excellence & Inspiration and, along with his family, the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership award. His board involvement has included University of Chicago Hospitals, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Chicago Economic Club, Big Shoulders Fund, the Terlato Wine Group, and Young President’s Organization.
photo of Bruce and Beth White at a podium
White Lodging Milestones
Milestone 3