Hotel Online  Special Report

 Steve Belmonte Immersed in Sarbanes-Oxley as a
New Member of the Board of Directors
of Arlington Hospitality Inc.
Former Ramada Executive Looking to Bring Expertise to Board-Room Tables in Interpreting, Applying Complex
New Federal Regulations

Randolph, N.J. — April 30, 2003 — As president and c.e.o. of Hospitality Solutions LLC, one of Steve Belmonte’s goals is to bring to board rooms the leadership skills developed in his years as president of one of the world’s largest franchise companies. In that context, he has educated himself—and the board upon which he currently sits—in the complexities of a new law that governs the financial activities of public and, to a certain extent, private companies. 

Belmonte served for 11 years as president and c.e.o. of Ramada Franchise Systems and led its emergence as one of the word’s largest and most recognizable hotel brands. Now he’s moved on to his own enterprise, Hospitality Solutions LLC, a New Jersey-based company that provides franchise consulting, litigation support, arbitration, expert-witness and motivational-speaking services to all service industries.
Steven J. Belmonte
But of all the new pursuits in which he’s currently engaged, Belmonte says the most challenging—and most satisfying—is his role as a member of the board of directors of Arlington Hospitality Inc., a hotel-management company based in Arlington Heights, Ill. 

Belmonte was elected to the Arlington Hospitality board last year, along with fellow board member Ken Fell. His experience running for the post, Belmonte says, was both educational and eye-opening for him. 

“Both Ken and I saw a need to bring to the table some fresh thoughts and ideas on improving the value of our shares for our shareholders,” Belmonte said. “We ran on what you might call a dissident slate, and as it turned out, we won election to the board overwhelmingly.”

Belmonte—always one to dive head-first into a project—has become a student of the intricacies of board-room operations. As an example, once he made the decision to run for the Arlington Hospitality Board, he studied and learned everything he could about regulations that govern the financial activities of publicly and privately held companies. Belmonte’s diligence paid off: About the time he was elected to the Arlington Hospitality board, a new law governing boards of directors was about to go into effect.

“This new law, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, came on the scene shortly after I was elected to the Board,” said Belmonte, now chairman of the Compensation Committee and a member of the Audit Committee for Arlington’s board. “I did a lot of research on Sarbanes-Oxley and believe me, this law carries a lot of clout and its complex rules and regulations will be enforced to the fullest.”

One worldwide accounting firm refers to Sarbanes-Oxley as “the single most important piece of legislation affecting corporate governance, financial disclosure and the practice of public accounting since the U.S. securities laws of the 1930s.” Like most federal regulations, the Act’s requirements for corporate governance, financial-statement disclosures, management assessment of internal controls, and the changed responsibilities of auditors are voluminous and intricate in detail. 
Surprisingly, Belmonte said, the new act is still relatively unknown—or at least is being underestimated or overlooked—in board rooms across the country.

“According to the May/June issue of Corporate Board Member magazine, only 52 percent of all companies’ boards of directors have formed a governance
committee, only 56 percent have adopted governance guidelines, and only 53 percent have named a chief governance officer or named others as governance
watchdogs—all of which are set forth in Sarbanes-Oxley,” Belmonte said. “The board of any company in any industry needs to do what we’ve done at Arlington
Hospitality—we’ve immersed ourselves in Sarbanes-Oxley and done everything by the book, as it requires. Companies that don’t follow these regulations will be
held accountable—strongly and stringently—by the Federal Government, and will face some very heavy penalties if they’re not in full compliance.”

It’s Belmonte’s goal to bring his brand of knowledge, diligence and experience to the table in other board rooms.

“I’ve learned a lot being a member of the Arlington board, and it’s my objective to be of service in a similar way to other boards of directors,” Belmonte said.

Hospitality Solutions LLC, based in Randolph, N.J., provides expert witness and arbitration services, litigation support, franchise agreement formulation or termination negotiation assistance, asset management, targeted training programs, special projects and motivational speaker services to service industries. In addition to heading up his new company, Belmonte serves as vice chairman of the American Hotel & Lodging Assn.'s Educational Foundation. For more information, call (973) 598-0839 or e-mail


Steve Belmonte
Hospitality Solutions LLC
Tel: (973) 598-0839

Also See: Arlington Hospitality Proxy Fight Succeeds in Adding Two Independent Board Members; Goal to Enhance Shareholder Value / Sept 2002
Corporate Corruption Act Clean Up Affects Hotel Companies Too / The Global Hospitality Advisor / JMBM / Oct 2002
Belmonte’s Back In Business As Hospitalty Solutions LLC / Feb 2003

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