Employee Spotlight - Judy Fortner!
Fort Wood Hotels has five award-winning hotels in St. Robert, Mo, and this wouldn't be possible without our incredible employees! Our mission at Fort Wood Hotels is to serve our guests, our community, and each other. Our team of top-notch employees that make our mission a reality through community involvement and always serving our guests with Ozarks Hospitality! Read on to learn more about our Director of Sales & Marketing, Judy Fortner!
1. Q. How did you get started with Fort Wood Hotels?
I met Steve Ehrhardt, owner of Fort Wood Hotels, through a committee I was on in Lebanon, Missouri. I was in the Lebanon Tourism Director position at the time and worked with him on the Friends of the Fort Committee. He informed me of a possible job coming open in a few months, the Director of Sales & Marketing. I ended up applying and interviewing with Rick Morris, Director of Operations for Fort Wood Hotels, who I met previously at a tourism meeting as well as previously worked with at Fort Campbell, Kentucky during my time there in the Protocol Office before I moved back to Missouri. I did get the position in 2013 and am one of the very few on the management team who is a transplant to the company verses working up through the ranks.
2. Q. What brought you to the St. Robert, Missouri area?
I moved back to the area after 23 years away. I moved from Clarksville, Tennessee. I did grow up here on in Laquey and attended school there all 13 years. I graduated and went to college and moved away quickly after. I moved back as the opportunity opened to get closer to my parents as they were getting older. I felt it was a good time to bring my three children to a smaller area and be close to family for once. We had moved multiple time with their dad in the military prior. Two of my three children were excited for the move, my middle-schooler loved her friends in Clarksville and was not too happy with this choice. The place has grown on her now. We have made it home and been back since 2012.
3. Q. What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not at work?
One of my favorite things to do is floating the rivers in our area. I especially have fond memories of Kelley family floats of more than 30 people and the array of food that spread out at lunch time on my summertime visits home. I enjoy spending time with family the most barbequing at home or for any reason we find to get together. I enjoy working out, running, eating out and trying new restaurants and reading or playing solitaire.
4. Q. What do you like most about your job?
I love to have a variety of things I do and the fun I have working for this company! I never have the same week and always enjoy a challenge. Both Rick and Steve give me projects to figure out and that is probably what keeps me most engaged. I get to do fun things too from social media, videos, photo campaigns, community career fairs, employee events, public relations and so much more. I also enjoy working with the community and helping others to include group travel, company travel or families traveling to our area.
5. Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little, I played office with my friends. We had makeshift desks and scrap paper for memos and play telephones and we played for hours. I guess I knew I would be in business. I discovered Marketing in high school when one of my teachers decided we should do some career research. I wanted to be a buyer and travel the world. I am thankful she did push us to take career assessments and do research and find something that we should do that fit our skills and abilities. I did go on to get my B.S. in Marketing and my MBA and I did travel but I did not become a buyer. I have done so many other jobs in the Marketing field and it has been an extremely rewarding career.
6. Q. What is something very few people know about you?
It is probably easy to guess I was a cheer mom with two girls, Kaylee and Cassi, who both cheered in high school at Lebanon. They both cheered since a young age in competitive cheer and kept me busy with practice and competitions. However, many do not know I was a “MotoMom”. I had a son who raced motorcycles for 10 years. Tristan started racing at 5 and I was scared to death of the sport in the beginning. It was not long before you could find me at the track with him practicing through the week and at motocross or supercross races on the weekends. His dad was deployed most of the time with Special Forces, so I was hauling the bike on the back of the truck or in a trailer. My son and I had a system to get that big 250 up in the back of the truck, it was a sight I am sure. I could change the oil and give lots of encouragement on the starting line. Although I was limited in my knowledge of the sport, I was there every race. I am so lucky to have a son who did not get hurt too much and many good friends to help me when things went wrong and in racing that happens a lot!
7. Q. Tell us about your family?
I have three children, Tristan, Kaylee and Cassi. Tristan is the oldest and lives in Lebanon and has been trying different jobs, he put in some time in landscaping, truck driving and cooking in restaurants. Kaylee is a daycare teacher and goes to college at OTC but most importantly raises Zachoriah, my grandson who stole all our hearts. Yes, I am a proud grandma too. Cassi is in her second year of college at LSU. She decided to move near her dad and has done very well there and I always enjoy her coming home to visit and cannot wait to see what she pursues. I am the youngest of 7 kids and both my parents live in the area and I get to see them for lunch or anytime they need some help. I live with a man I love, Brent, in Lebanon and we enjoy our home and all our children, he has three great kids and five grandkids to add to the mix.
8. Q. What activities are you involved with outside of work?
I am active in the Friends of the Fort, a committee under the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce supporting the Military connection with the area. I am co-chair of the Fort Leonard Wood Regional Tourism Commission under SOP (Sustainable Ozarks Partnership) and we just launched a new website www.exploreflw.com and Facebook page to promote what you can do in our region. I am a Leadership Graduate with the Waynesville-St. Robert Chamber of Commerce and participate as a promoter of the area for both chambers at the Community Orientation for new families coming to Fort Leonard Wood. I participate in judging both DECA and FBLA for our region. I also get to meet and work with many organizations in the area when the come to Fort Wood Hotels looking for sponsorship and partnerships.
Whether you stay for a weekend or a week, we know you will have plenty to keep you busy. Plan your next great trip to St. Robert MO, and stay a few days. We have so much to see! Fort Wood Hotels has six different properties to choose from and we will find exactly what you need for your visit. Just make sure you choose one of our hotels near Fort Leonard Wood as your place to stay. Fort Wood Hotels has been serving guests and communities in and around the Fort Leonard Wood Missouri area since 1999. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that your stay is as special as the reason you are here.