100 Years and Counting: Our Legacy, Our Reputation, Our People

Tricia Rickard joined the Guest Services corporate team twice. First in 1986 as an admin when boxy word processors and eight-by-eight floppy disks were the latest rave in technology, way before the internet revolutionized everything. She left in 1998 and returned again in 1999 to become the Intranet Webmaster, a position she still holds 17 years later.

For Tricia, Guest Services provides that sense of being “home” and her co-workers are just like family. At Guest Services, “we’ve all gone through life together.” And when you go through life together, “you’re comfortable with one another and you value each other, which makes for a more productive work environment.” And she would know. Through the birth of her daughter, a wedding and several funerals, her Guest Services family has stood by her side.

“We’ve all gone through life together. And when you go through life together, you’re comfortable with one another and you value each other, which makes for a more productive work environment.” – Tricia Rickard, Corporate Webmaster

The Guest Services family includes more than 4,000 employees, each providing the best in food operations, hospitality, and recreation management services for more than 35 million people annually at more than 300 unique sites nationwide. With over 100 employees who have been with the company for more than 25 years, Guest Services is proud of its legacy of investing, honoring, and maintaining positive relationships with their team.

In 1988, Guest Services had enough employees reach or surpass the 25-year benchmark that they began the Twenty-Five Year Club – a tradition they continue to this day. “There was [even] one person who had been with the company for over 60 years,” recalls Tricia. “The Twenty-Five Year Club Dinner grows every year. With so many people who reach that level, you know there is just something special that makes people want to stay.”

When People Are The Bottom Line

How does a 100-year old company keep employees around for entire careers?

For Troy Cardwell, Managing Director of The Marbella at Pelican Bay, it comes down to one thing: finding people that love to work with people. “I like leading people who like to take care of people and truly enjoy what they are doing,” he says. And Troy has been taking care of people at Guest Services for more than 16 years.

“The traditional values of Guest Services are a reflection of my personal values,” says Addis Worku, a district manager of the National Mall parks in Washington, D.C. and a 25-year tenure employee. “They value hard work, respect, and ethics. I cherish these, too, as my personal values.”

“The traditional values of Guest Services are a reflection of my personal values.” – Addis Worku, District Manager, National Mall Kiosks

Surviving the bumpy road of business through the past century is an achievement in and of itself – especially when it comes to keeping tenured employees. Throughout America’s economic downturns, when most companies put the bottom line above employees, Guest Services put its team first. “During the tough times, when the economy was in bad shape, Mr. Gabrys said to us ‘we’ll get through this without laying people off. We’ll just have to buckle-down,’” recalls Tricia.

Back in 2001, after September 11, Troy was working at a luxury property in Washington, D.C. when he watched the hotel occupancy rate drop from 80% to 3% overnight. The entire industry was suffering and suddenly everyone needed to find a new job. Instead, Troy was hired by Guest Services that same year. “That changed my life,” he said.

Through Good Times, Through Bad Times

A few years ago, Tricia was taking her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer, back and forth between doctor appointments. During a stop in the Guest Services’ cafeteria, several executives sat down to talk with her mother. Her mother was surprised at the gesture. “That would not happen at my company,” she later remarked. When her mother eventually passed away, a lot of folks who knew Tricia at Guest Services also attended the funeral. “To work with people who care enough about you to come to a funeral and support you, that means a lot,” she says.

And that applies to the good times, too. When Tricia married her husband, present and past friends from work were there to celebrate, joking, “We weren’t sure if it was a wedding or a Guest Services reunion!”

When Jennifer Wallace, an award-winning managing director for several Guest Services properties, needed to take time off to attend to her father, it was never a question. “It’s these human interactions that are integral to guiding a sense of loyalty,” she says.

Seventeen years later, Tricia still leads the company’s efforts to keep pace with technologies near-constant evolution as the company Webmaster. It’s a skill Guest Services has entrusted her with, investing and elevating her along the way. Just like it will and does with each of its 4,000 other positions.

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