Meyer Crest, Ltd. is now a 2 generation woman-owned family business established in 1948 in the lodging industry. Since that time, the operations have evolved and include now ownership of commercial properties and well as lodging facilities.
The unique character of Meyer Crest, Ltd. has its foundations in the special qualities of its founders, Herbert and Frances Reichert Meyer. Herb, a transplanted New Yorker, was a highly self-motivated man with strong aspirations. Fran (Frances Lengfeld), a third-generation Californian born in San Mateo, CA, took after the strong-willed, highly intelligent, self-reliant, and multi-talented women of her family. The lodging industry provided both Herb and Fran with an outlet for their creative energy and drive.
Herb’s interest in the lodging and hospitality business can be traced to his relationship with his grandfather who emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1892, and established a small hofbrau in Middle Village on Long Island. Later “Opa” retired to the Catskills Mountains to operate a little pensione.
With childhood memories to inspire him, Herb’s fascination with the lodging industry was heightened when he and a college classmate “motored” their way through the Southern Atlantic states, encountering the early blossoming “tourist court” concept which preceded the “motel” category of lodging. Even then Herb, who had graduated from Columbia University, envisioned the possibilities inherent in developing lodging accommodations convenient for people traveling by automobile. Although he was a rising star in the merchandising sector of retail at Macy’s department stores, Herb never stopped thinking about career possibilities in the lodging industry.
A graduate of Stanford, Fran descended from families who emigrated from Germany, France and Bohemia during the middle 1800’s, eventually settling in San Francisco by the mid-1850’s. Several fascinating stories have been recounted about her family’s experiences in early San Francisco. One is told of her grandfather Lengfeld’s pharmacy on Union Square near Maiden Lane. According to the legend, the bottom floor of his building housed his pharmacy while the above two floors were leased to a restaurant and “lodging” accommodations.
Building a family business was a natural for Fran and Herb. Both were willing to dedicate their energies to the development of a business that reflected their dreams and hopefully provide a future for generations to come. The lodging industry was their vehicle; their early slogan represented their philosophy: “Styled for Your Comfort, Priced for Your Purse.”
Guided by his instinct and competitive nature, Herb worked tirelessly, one step at a time, to build the foundations from which their business would grow. With as much determination and drive, Fran provided insight, support and guidance, contributing her ideas and maintaining the accounting for the family business, while also remaining devoted to fulfilling her roles as wife and mother.
Herb and Fran had four children within two and one-half years (that’s right, twins!): Diana Meyer (later Dede), their first born child; Bert Meyer (formerly called Rick Meyer), the youngest and the only son; his twin, Christina Meyer; and middle sister, Barbara Meyer (now Bhavani Mair). In 1948, the year in which Dede was born, Herb and Fran bought their first motel, the Crystal Motel in Red Bluff, CA, as an investment. Little did Herb and Fran realize where this would lead. Several years later they purchased another motel, the California Motel, in Redding, CA. Soon thereafter, Herb decided to leave the retail sector and devote his energies to building the family lodging business.
Family life revolved around the motel business. The business was the family, and the family was the business. Even when very young, all the children were involved in the business to varying degrees. At six years old, Dede would accompany her Dad to the motels to help, even renting rooms and operating the old-fashioned PBX at “the California.” Bert would land the jobs no-one else wanted to do, seeking to learn more about the family business from the ground level. Throughout their childhood, all the children worked to clean rooms, maintain the grounds, deliver supplies, assemble the newly built motels, and do whatever the family business needed. In 1956, Herb and Fran formed Meyer Motels, Ltd. (later to become Meyer Crest, Ltd.) in pursuit of their dream to create a family company.
It was only natural that the children continued in the path envisioned by Herb and Fran for their family. For twenty-five plus years, Dede and Bert were responsible for the management, operation and development of their family’s businesses as a uniquely close sister/brother team, fully involved in all aspects of their family business. Believing in the adage, “What goes around comes around,” they tried to approach their business honestly and fairly and, as most parents, they were motivated by their hopes and aspirations for the third generation. The family businesses subsequently split, with Dede and Chris pursuing the family traditions and goals of Meyer Crest, Ltd. Meyer Crest’s family-owned company holdings now include commercial real estate properties as well as lodging facilities in California, managed through GEN III, LLC, a Meyer family company, which also manages properties and businesses outside of, and in addition to, the Meyer Crest businesses.
We are blessed with a talented and supportive staff, both at the hotels and on the management level at GENIII. They are our extended family. At our hotels, all effort is made to extend this sense of family to our guests and staff. Staff is encouraged to take pride in their respective properties, to welcome each guest into their “home.” We believe that this form of management embodies the essence of the American tradition, providing a warm and congenial atmosphere for our clientele. At all our hotels, we strive to provide an independent touch to our guest’s stay to impart that “home away from home” feeling of comfort. We constantly evaluate our product in order to provide incomparable, affordable accommodations that are tastefully furnished, clean, and comfortable for the traveling family, tourist, and commercial person alike.
Although Fran passed away in 1996, her spirit remains a wonderful inspiration; her life an embodiment of the Golden Rule. She is still remembered by staff and guests who knew her as warm, gracious, and kind whenever they encountered her. Guided by her memory, the second generation strives to create the same home-away-from-home environment she provided to our guests for many years. Herb survived Fran by seven years and, until the day he passed on, was actively engaged in the family business, frequently visiting the Staff at his most recent projects, building new hotels and pursuing sites for future construction. His memory continues to support us as we move forward in the family business.
We have so much more to share. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please contact us at:
Meyer Crest, Ltd.
725 Folger Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710
In the words of Herb and Fran,