Inaugural Class of the Hospitality Pipeline Program Honors Success

May 20, 2019
Tech Talk

Celebration was in the air on Thursday, May 16 at the DoubleTree by Hilton during a program for the first seven graduates of A-B Tech’s Hospitality Pipeline program.

The Hospitality Pipeline is an internship program through A-B Tech’s Transitional Studies for individuals in the community who have low levels of literacy or are individuals with disabilities. The integrated education and training program prepare students for jobs in the Asheville hospitality and tourism industry.

Students Kevin Edwards, Cheryl Feutz, Jacob Landau, Nicole Rotundo, Greg Staib, Shawn Stewart, and Jesse Trimbach started with a four-week boot camp training program in January and started internships in February until the end of April. Classes included teaching the students hospitality vocabulary and industry terminology, to prepare them for the internships.

The partners, A-B Tech, Goodwill, the Biltmore Company and Biltmore Farms, are working together to increase the reliable workforce in the Buncombe County area, which has the state’s lowest unemployment at just 3.2%. They provide teaching, paid internships, and workforce preparation training for the students.

Shawn admitted the program was tough at first. “I almost gave up on myself, but Ms. Lisa (Cook, Goodwill and A-B Tech Instructor) never gave up on me,” he said. 

Nicole was praised for her internship working in laundry at DoubleTree and for her ability to bring other people out of their shells. Jacob wanted to work in laundry and came in every day bringing a smile to his internship next door at the Hampton Inn & Suites.

Jesse also interned at Hampton Inn where he performed data entry by updating records from the beginning of 2018. He was responsible for driving Trip Advisor scores for the hotel, garnering 94 reviews, which is 17 percent of all the reviews that Hampton Inn has had since it opened. 

Kevin faced so many barriers outside of his control, according to Cook. “However, he never gave up. No matter how frustrated he got, he kept his chin up. I think many people in his situation would have quit, but not Kevin,” she said.

Kevin had advice for the next cohort of the Hospitality Pipeline. “You can get through it. You will have support and people behind you to get you there,” he said.

Greg had work experience bagging groceries, but his father encouraged him to push himself beyond his comfort zone in search of a more challenging and fulfilling career. When Page McCorkle, Coordinator for Pathways & Adult Basic Education at A-B Tech began to advertise this new integrated employment and training program, he signed up. Greg has now secured a job in housekeeping at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, a Forbes 4-Star 4-diamond hotel, where he completed his internship.

“The program provided Greg with a baseline understanding of various roles within the Hospitality industry,” said Chip Bryan, Talent Acquisition and Recruitment Supervisor for Biltmore Company. “Greg entered his internship with confidence and curiosity, and was paired with departmental trainers who helped him learn the various aspects of his role. He was able to reflect on the training he learned in the class with A-B Tech, and was shown how to implement that training in his work at the Inn.”

Cheryl had experience at McAllister’s Deli, but wanted to work more hours and grow within a larger company, so she enrolled in The Hospitality Pipeline for additional academic skill development and workplace training. She was hired as Breakfast Attendant with the Residence Inn by Marriott where she completed her internship for the course. “I am moving forward and not taking a step backward,” Cheryl said.

“Cheryl’s attitude and smile are contagious. She has received numerous guest comment cards stating how valuable she is to the team. We look forward to her being a part of our team for years to come” said Andrew Alexander, General Manager for Residence Inn. “She has helped the hotel to improve the Breakfast Staff Service score by over seven points and helped the hotel get into the Top 10 out of nearly 800 Residence Inn hotels,” said Alexander.

For more information, contact Page McCorkle, Coordinator of Pathways & Adult Basic Education for A-B Tech, at or (828) 398-7131.



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