Cecil B. Day Sr. was the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Days Inns of America, Inc. The budget-luxury concept of Days Inns began with an idea Day had in 1968 while traveling with his family in New England. He realized there was a void in lodging accommodations for middle Americans - the family with two, three or four children - traveling on a limited budget.
This realization was reinforced when, during a family vacation to California, he observed the success of an existing budget motel chain. He returned to Atlanta and designed a 60-unit motel module which combined budget and luxury features. The plans were completed in the summer of 1969 and construction began on the first Days Inn in February, 1970. His experience and success in construction convinced him that standardization of construction and operations would generate substantial savings which subsequently would be passed on to the motel guest through low room rates.
The Days Inns value-oriented concept became a reality in June, 1970, with the opening of the first Days Inn in Savannah Beach, Georgia. This prototype motel was later redesigned to encompass lodging, gasoline, restaurant and gift shop facilities to meet all the needs of the traveling public. In addition, most properties provided guests with a swimming pool and a children's playground.
The Days Inns concept caught on quickly. The chain was soon billed as the fastest growing chain in the world as it began to double in size every six months. By 1973, the American Hotel and Motel Association recognized Days Inns as one of the top 25 lodging chains in the United States and by 1978, Days Inns was the sixth largest motel chain in the United States.
The success of the Days Inns concept was based on the simplicity of Cecil Day's own personal life. Born the son of Lon L. Day, Sr., a Southern Baptist minister, in Brooklet, Georgia, on December 10, 1934, he grew up in Savannah and Macon, graduating from Macon1s Lanier High School in 1952. Day's early years were marked by the hardships of the depression and his father's illness and death when Cecil was fifteen years old.
Years of hard work followed for Cecil Day. As a high school student, he worked after school in his uncle's real estate office, thus laying the foundation for his future career. He enrolled at Mercer University, Macon, in 1952 and continued to work full time. While there, he met and married Marian Uldine (Deen) Smith of Macon. In 1953, he interrupted his education to serve two years in the United States Marine Corps. In the fall of 1955, he entered Georgia Institute of Technology. While at Tech, he carried eleven consecutive full-time quarters of academic courses and worked full time for Moncrief Heating and Air Conditioning Company; and he served as President of the Society for the Advancement of Management at Georgia Tech. Day graduated from Georgia Tech in 1958. At the time of his graduation, Cecil and Deen Day were expecting the third of their five children.
With a family to support and a career to build, Day continued with Moncrief as a heating and air conditioning engineer. In March, 1959, he became a real estate salesman with Dolphin Homes Corporation, East Point, Georgia. After becoming a broker in 1959, he joined Scott Hudgens Realty and Mortgage, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. By early 1962, he had been promoted to Vice President and General Manager. In late 1962, Day decided to go into business for himself and established Day Realty Associates, Inc. The company initially concentrated on building and operating apartments, amassing over 2,000 units before selling a majority of the properties in 1970.
The proceeds from this sale provided the capital base for the funding of Days Inns of America, Inc. and its rapid expansion into a national chain. Day opened real estate and development offices in Savannah and Albany, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas and Richmond, Virginia. In order to meet the financing needs of his business, Day formed Day Mortgage Company Inc. in 1971.
Even as a busy entrepreneur, and a father of five children, (C. Burke, Kathleen (Kathie), Clinton M., C. Peyton and C. Parke), Day found time to render service to civic business, religious and educational organizations. He was a member of the Young President's Organization and The Conference Board. He was a Trustee of Tift College in Forsyth, Georgia and a Trustee of Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. He served on the National Advisory Board of Georgia Institute of Technology, the Board of Directors of the American Bible Society, the First Georgia Bank and was Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for Haggai Institute which later named its Singapore Campus in his honor. Day was a charter member of Dunwoody Baptist Church and a member of the Board of Deacons, serving two terms as Chairman.
Hard work, sound academic preparation, practical application of creative ideas, and the practice of Christian ethics in business - all of these were reflected in Cecil Day's original concept of Days Inns of America, Inc. Cecil Day died in 1978 at the age of 44. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors for Days Inns of America, Inc. and Cecil B. Day Companies, Inc. His dynamic leadership and entrepreneurial spirit had created a unique concept in the lodging industry. The life of Cecil Day is a noble example of a Christian steward using his personal life and business abilities to express the love and hope of his faith.