Rockbridge Motivates Industry Through Focus on Innovation and Leadership in "Rock the Road" Event

Leading hospitality private equity firm's annual event supports nation's largest cycling fundraiser benefitting cancer research

Aug 20, 2015, 14:35 ET from Rockbridge

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Rockbridge, a leading U.S. private equity firm specializing in hospitality, rallied industry influencers during the fourth annual Rock the Road event in Columbus, Ohio. Leaders representing global hotel brands, financial decision-makers and marketers disrupted business paradigms with the unparalleled event, challenging traditional thinking surrounding leadership and innovation. Presidential sponsors included Rockbridge Hotel Development; Marriott; Starwood; Davidson Hotels & Resorts; IDC; Morris, Manning & Martin LLC.; Noble House Hotels & Resorts; and Hilton.

Rockbridge created Rock the Road to shake up the hospitality industry and beyond, breaking norms and stimulating thinking through dynamic presentations showcasing examples of leadership and innovation. This year's event featured four vibrant speakers who motivated attendees to leave Rock the Road better than they came:

  • Dr. Michael Caligiuri, CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute; Director of the Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center; John L. Markakas Nationwide Insurance Enterprise Foundation Chair in Cancer Research;
  • Robin Thurston, Chief Digital Officer for Under Armour;
  • Blake Smith, Director of Entertainment for Virgin Hotels;
  • Tim Knight, Owner and Leadership Coach of Focus 3 Culture.

"We wanted to inspire the industry and bring people together to make a difference," noted Rockbridge President & CEO, Jim Merkel. "Our guests responded overwhelmingly to Rock the Road's uniqueness in content centered around innovation and leadership and the impact we are making in cancer research as a result is what this is all about."

One of the only non-for-profit hospitality conferences, Rock the Road directly supports Pelotonia, the nation's largest cycling event benefitting cancer research. President & CEO Jim Merkel presented a donation of $650,000 -- nearly doubling last year's contribution -- to pioneering cancer researcher Dr. Michael Caligiuri as a result of the conference proceeds, sponsorships and team fundraising. Rockbridge has contributed more than $1.3 million to Pelotonia and cancer research over the last five years through Rock the Road attendees, sponsorship and individual rider fundraising.

"The growth and momentum this event has are amazing and I know that research breakthroughs will occur with the money we are raising," noted Joe Apgar, Team Rockbridge Captain and cancer survivor.  "Working for a company with a vision toward one goal – ending cancer – is truly inspiring."

Rock the Road attendees are invited to stay one day after the conference and ride in Pelotonia. Rockbridge provides a team jersey, high-end road bike and helmet for those wanting to fundraise for and take part in the cycling event.  Team Rockbridge had a team record of 143 members this year, with 121 cyclists, 19 virtual riders and three volunteers. 

Hospitality industry executives continue to commit to Rock the Road and Pelotonia because they share Rockbridge's passion for the fight to end cancer. Rockbridge's Rock the Road conference is a perfect example that companies of any size can influence resources and generate new ideas to make a major difference in the community.

About Rockbridge
Rockbridge is a private equity firm that invests in hospitality. Over the past 20+ years, it has made more than 340 hotel investments in 44 states in transactions worth more than $5 billion.  Through its deep in-house experience and strong foundation of industry relationships, Rockbridge has delivered a track record of high absolute returns across multiple cycles and is a leading investor in hospitality.  

For additional information about Rockbridge, visit

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SOURCE Rockbridge