WILDWOOD CREST – Steve Tecco and his wife, Bonnie Tecco, look forward to a better spring and summer season than in 2020. As head of the Greater Wildwood Hotel and Motel Association, Tecco keenly understands Covid’s economic impact.
Yet, Tecco’s world is more than numbers. Faith in Jesus Christ, as the redeemer of the world, guides him through the polished world of business. Business and faith are not necessarily at odds, according to Tecco.
Seeds of Success
For Tecco, success begins at home, loving your family and caring for your community.
Born in the Philadelphia region, Tecco came to the Wildwoods as an infant, in the 1960s. His parents owned a home in North Wildwood and ran a beach grill.
Then, in 1967, his family bought the former Satellite Hotel and later built the Armada, in Wildwood Crest. Understanding the importance of tourism is in Tecco’s blood.
“We’ve had some guests for 40 years,” Tecco said.
Tecco learned the hospitality business alongside his parents. He stands by honesty, integrity, and taking a personal interest in guests.
“Faith is at the core of everything I do,” Tecco explained.
The Regions Beyond
In time, Tecco married and settled down to raise a family. New connections opened the door to conduct mission work in Prague, Czech Republic, formerly known as Czechoslovakia.
In 1989, the Iron Curtain still separated Eastern and Western Europe under Communism. As a Christian and American businessman, the dichotomy between east and west hit hard.
Borders and culture took a backseat in Tecco’s mind as he helped train Czech pastors and distribute Bibles and other literature. Holes in the Iron Curtain became obvious as the world held its breath.
With a smile, Tecco recounted a tale of being searched by the secret police while traveling from Vienna, Austria, into Czechoslovakia.
“They (police) were not pleased,” Tecco said, referring to the material they found. They wished to “interview” Tecco again.
“I was able to talk my way out of it,” he said. Tecco traveled on unhindered, and still thanks God for his protection.
Tecco made about 35 trips in and out of Czechoslovakia. Even when Bibles were confiscated, Tecco said God’s word found another way of getting into people’s hands.
In 1990, Tecco returned to Wildwood Crest, becoming involved with the local motel association. After serving on the board of directors, Tecco was nominated for president of the association. He served for two terms.
“This is the little hat that I wear,” Tecco said, smiling.
The Greater Wildwood Hotel and Motel Association represents 150 properties in total. Tecco says he seeks “to be a positive influence” while keeping up with the changing industry and keeping members informed. Saving money in bulk purchases, i.e., furniture and supplies, and participating in events, i.e., car shows and monster truck rallies, fills a large portion of Tecco’s time.
“People know who I am and what I am,” Tecco said. Although he does not force his beliefs “down anyone’s throat,” Tecco makes his faith public.
“I don’t see faith as just what happens on Sunday,” Tecco said.
He is not a “prude” and can have a good time with “the best of them,” according to Tecco.
Like other hotel/motel owners, Tecco is preparing for a longer season.
“This season looks good,” Tecco said.
The Armada is currently undergoing renovations, including updated features and a new roof. Reinvesting in the property helps retain customers and provides an enjoyable stay. Tecco and his wife also pray for their guests throughout the year.
He believes the Wildwoods will attract more tourists due to its proximity to highly-populated areas.
Tecco endured loss of revenue alongside other businesses in 2020, but is focused on the coming days.
He stands firm in his position on beach tags, saying that tags will not aid economic recovery. Tecco contends that the political sector often uses the hospitality field as the “default industry” in order to secure more revenue.
“South of Cape May, there are no beach fees,” Tecco explained. If tourists wish to save money, especially after 2020, they may go further south and bypass the Wildwoods. Maintaining free beaches is vital to Five Mile Island’s recovery.
Tecco also stated that the Greater Wildwood Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA) receives funding for beach maintenance. According to current legislation, if beach tags are imposed, each municipality would no longer receive state funds.
Tecco’s primary concerns center on people, both guests and employees. When he served as interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Cape May Court House, in 2007, his philosophy remained the same.
How does Tecco escape the tension between business and faith?
“I don’t compartmentalize,” Tecco answered.
“There are times when I slip, but my goal is to be above reproach,” he added.
He doesn’t view success in the form of “beating the competition.” If other hotels/motels do well, so do the restaurant owners, Boardwalk merchants, and the Convention Center. If they do well, so does Tecco.
“We all have won,” Tecco concluded.
Faith Matters is an ongoing series exploring the connection between individuals and their faith, impacting their families, community, and beyond. Those with a story of faith to share should contact the writer at email@example.com.