What began as an industrial design teaching position grew into a hospitality legacy; Chris Rapp to continue on as president.
After an exceptional career that took him from the classroom all the way to the boardroom, Triple Crown founder Dave Rapp has officially retired. He began the organization in 1991, and for 27 years he transformed it into a major force in hotel renovations and commercial construction projects. Guided by rock-solid principles and values of quality, fairness, and family, Dave made Triple Crown into a respected name throughout the industry.
Dave Rapp had a passion for construction from an early age, taking on design and drafting projects on his own time while in high school, and studying civil technology and industrial education in college. He taught mechanical drafting and architecture at Wootton High School for ten years and then industrial design as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland until a position with Marriott Hotels allowed him to put his passion into practice. Dave worked for Marriott’s restaurant design department first, and then managed staff in both hotel and restaurant departments at the company.
Building off this experience, Dave founded Triple Crown Design & Construction, which served as a consultant for a number of commercial organizations, particularly in the hotel renovation space. Marriott was one of the company’s first clients, and its reputation grew as Triple Crown became known for its reliability, efficiency, and dedication. As the market reacted positively to the company, Dave knew he needed to scale up from his family basement-based setting (with just himself and a single part-time assistant on the staff!) in order to grow. He brought on his colleague Dennis Haeder—who he met back in his teaching days but had also worked alongside during his time at Marriott—to take Triple Crown into a new era of growth.
At that point, Dave didn’t foresee Triple Crown growing into the legacy it is today: having opened a large office in Frederick, employing dozens of talented employees, and operating at a multimillion annual revenue rate—a triumph that Dave is proud to pass on to the current President, Chris Rapp. Back then, they were taking it one day, one client at a time. “In 1991 I had no idea where I’d be in 1998, much less 2018,” said Dave. “But I enjoyed every day, and I’m fortunate to be where I am today and to have guided Triple Crown through more than two excellent decades.”
At the early points in the venture, Triple Crown focused on simple hospitality renovation projects like updating carpets, furniture, doors, and other “cosmetic” aspects, while also undertaking commercial projects such as restaurants and tenant fit-outs. Over time, with advancements in design elements and technology, the company was able to efficiently and creatively offer large, strategic remodels for client properties. That embrace of new technologies is something that Dave expects Chris to lean into in this new era of Triple Crown that will unfold in the coming years.
“When the new office [in Frederick] opened, Chris made sure it was equipped with modern tools at each workstation so that everything from project management and collaboration processes—allowing us to communicate across multiple work sites on big projects—to invoicing and administrative tasks could be completed quickly and effectively. We’ve come a long way from working with only a single IBM 286 computer in my garage.”
This year represents a changing of the guard to Chris, Dave’s son, who began working for Triple Crown while in high school. He began as a simple laborer on remodel sites and worked his way up the levels of management until being named President. Since he’s been with the company for many years, Chris taking the helm has been a smooth transition for the employees as well as the customers, who are still working with the same project managers and teams as they have in the past, and can rely on the same quality as they’re used to.
“Strong leadership is what allows companies to succeed in the long-term,” Dave said. “It starts from the top. One of my best moments at Triple Crown was the first time I suggested a course of action and Chris replied, ‘We don’t do it that way anymore.’ While a more prideful person might have been wounded by this, I was overjoyed to see that I was able to instill in him the ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances, and not stick to something just because that’s the way it was done in the past. His employees welcome this receptiveness to new ideas, and as a leader, their respect for him will go a long way toward his and Triple Crown’s success.”
Dave will remain in a consulting role with Triple Crown so that the company can still benefit from his decades of experience, and he’s excited to see how Chris will take this already-formidable company he built and move it forward in the future.
“I’m grateful to Dave for all the years he’s given to Triple Crown, and for building not only a successful company but also a real community within it,” said Chris Rapp. “It’s an honor to be following in his footsteps; thanks to him this company has grown into a premier construction company, and I look forward to doing my own part in guiding it on its next steps.”
Though Dave will serve in an advisory capacity to Triple Crown moving forward, he will still be keeping busy, sticking to his usual blend of pleasure and work. He’ll be traveling more domestically and abroad, and while he’s at his home in Florida he’ll spend more time with his grandchildren, go boating, do woodworking projects, and take on the occasional construction projects—not out of any obligations, but simply for his own satisfaction. Dave also remains an active member of his local Corvette Club, Rotary chapter and church activities.
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About Triple Crown Construction:
Triple Crown Construction is a licensed General Contractor specializing in hotel and hospitality renovation projects. Since 1991, Triple Crown has partnered with highly regarded hotel brands across the United States. The Company has demonstrated expertise in renovations of Guest Rooms, Public Spaces, Food Service and Meeting Spaces in Select Service, Full Service, Boutique Hotels, and Resorts. Partner-Grade is the standard by which Triple Crown delivers successful renovation projects. For more information, please visit www.TripleCrownConstruction.com.