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Over the course of his career, Bob Holesko has picked up some playful nicknames, like Bear Trap Bob. But he’s also earned some monikers that carry more weight, like Energy Star partner of the year and certified energy manager.
Holesko, director of corporate engineering for Great Wolf Resorts, has a long track record of success with energy efficiency. Holesko’s first energy conservation project was a simple one: converting fluorescent and incandescent lights and exit signs to LED at the Marriott Buffalo. His efforts earned a rebate check from the utility company for $86,000. The hotel was one of the first businesses in western New York that earned the rebate. “That’s really when I got hooked on energy conservation,” he says.
He also learned a lesson. Lighting retrofits are the low-hanging fruit in energy conservation efforts. Not only do the projects tend to be straightforward, but many also allow owners to recoup their investments in a few years — critical when many properties frequently change ownership. That makes it easier to win approval from the finance folks.
The combination of practical, cost effective energy efficiency tactics, combined with a keen understanding of how to sell energy to top management, has been at the heart of Holesko’s accomplishments, first at the Marriott Buffalo, then HEI Hotels and Resorts, and now at Great Wolf Resorts.
When Holesko walked into a Great Wolf lodge and waterpark for the first time, “it just blew me away,” he says. “I’d been in the corporate hotels my whole career. Guests check in Tuesday, check out Thursday, and maybe there’s some weekend business.”
(Holesko oversees Great Wolf’s 18 properties, which span more than 8 million square feet, including 1.5 million-plus square feet of indoor water parks and more than 7,000 guest rooms.)
Not at Great Wolf. “There’s hundreds of kids running around the lodge wearing wolf ears. They’re going down the water slides, swimming in the wave pool, playing in the arcades, and doing zip line and rock climbing courses,” Holesko says. “I fell in love with the brand the second I walked in.”
Holesko’s enthusiasm carries over to his job as corporate director of engineering with the Chicago-based owner and operator of resorts and waterparks. When he joined the company in 2017, Holesko was the first corporate director of engineering in many years. In his role, Holesko oversees Great Wolf’s 18 properties, which span more than 8 million square feet, including 1.5 million-plus square feet of indoor water parks, as well as more than 7,000 guest rooms.
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