Best Places to Work 2021: Despite pandemic, 3H Group Hotels team pushes ahead together

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Hiren Desai, Founder and CEO of 3H Group Hotels, poses for a portrait at 3H's corporate headquarters on Thursday, April 1, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The hospitality industry took some of the hardest hits during the pandemic, with hotels everywhere emptying out as travel shut down. At 3H Group Hotels, there were layoffs and pay cuts - CEO Hiren Desai eliminated his own pay altogether - but there was also a foundation that made it possible for the company to endure and eventually thrive, Desai says.

"We got kicked in the gut, but what do you do?" he says. "We met and said, this is what we have to do. Everyone was flexible enough to do what was required of them, and when we asked them to come back, they all came back. What more can I ask?"

Desai says the culture of the company he founded in 2000 is built on the principle of working as a family.