As children, we have this idea of what we want to be when we grow up. Most of us do not get to turn that dream into a reality. However, Alex Koch, the corporate director of development and administration at Eureka Casinos, followed his aspiration from youth.
During one summer of his childhood, Koch visited his grandparents in Las Vegas. “I was enamored by the Mirage, the first casino we went to—I had never seen anything like it,” he recalls. “The design, the restaurants, all the casino games, the volcano, the white tigers and dolphin habitat wowed me! I decided then that I wanted to work in Las Vegas creating great guest experiences using my math and leadership skills.”
Koch learned the business of hospitality and the meaning of service at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. “I was exposed to the world’s greatest hospitality education and got to learn from titans of the industry,” he says. He learned financial modeling, yield management, and the importance of a systems-based approach to service. In college, he interned with MGM Mirage and assisted in the purchase and sale of the Golden Nugget properties.
“At Golden Nugget, I learned how to apply academic theory to the real world,” Koch says. Working for Andre Carrier, chief operating officer for gaming at the Golden Nugget, he helped drive incremental revenues and profitability by focusing on the customer experience and using analysis and data-driven decision-making.
In 2008, he joined Las Vegas Sands and ran financial planning and analysis for their U.S. operations. “In the middle of the global financial crisis, my team helped reduce operating expenses by $100 million and stabilize profitability in the Venetian and Palazzo,” Koch says.
He re-joined Andre Carrier in 2009—however, this time at Eureka Casinos. Eureka Casinos operates two casinos, one in Las Vegas and the other in Mesquite, Nevada, as well as myriad other businesses under the Urban Group brand.
“I’ve spent the last five years of my career at Eureka, helping innovate, and making data-driven decisions that exceed customer expectation and drive profitability at the same time,” Koch says.
He finds that the most enjoyable aspect of his profession is creating special moments and experiences for guests. He also enjoys helping solve problems for guests, his fellow employees, and the business. “Whether the issue is $100 or $100,000, I try to always be fair, gain understanding of each side, and guide people to an amicable solution,” says Koch.
The mentors in Koch’s life have helped him in his personal and professional development. “My parents,” he says, “who gave me ethics and the right frame to view the world; Carrier taught me about how to lead and be a strategist; Andrew Klebanow, principal of Global Market Advisors, taught me how to view the world from a marketer’s perspective; Tilman Fertitta, owner of Landry’s Restaurants & Golden Nugget, taught me how to think like an owner; Josh Hirsberg, CFO of Boyd Gaming, taught me to always proofread and check your work meticulously; and Greg and Ernie Lee, the owners of Eureka Casinos, live lives to be modeled.”
Koch mentors young people just starting out in their careers, volunteers as the treasurer of Los Vaqueros Las Vegas, as president of the Cornell Hotel
Society’s Las Vegas Chapter, and with Three Square Food Bank.
Remember, he says, life is service.