"I’m so glad I don’t have to wear a tie!"
Position: Vice President and COO
Responsibilities: Directs and coordinates the day-to-day operations of Reptile Gardens – the glue that holds it all together.
A key player in keeping Reptile Gardens running smoothly, Tom has been the General Manager at Reptile Gardens since 1984, and Vice President since 1994.
He directs and coordinates all aspects of the reptile park’s daily operations: implementing the policies and procedures as the liaison between management and the staff (which is quite an undertaking during the summer season when the staff jumps to100 people), interacting with Guests, and helping out wherever he is needed. He is also one of the biggest cheerleaders for the staff, encouraging them and helping them do what they do even better.
“It’s unique to find a job you enjoy doing. Sure, this is work, but every day is different. I’m so happy not to be stuck behind a desk all day!”
After graduating from the University of South Dakota with a business degree, he moved to the Quad Cities, but later moved back to SD. When Joe asked him to consider returning to Reptile Gardens to become General Manager, Tom jumped at the opportunity to retire his monkey suits.
Tom began working here at age 14 as a Bumper Boy. Back in the day, the animal park would hire young kids to stick Reptile Gardens’ bumper stickers on all the cars in the parking lot (of course this is no longer standard practice, but the stickers can now be purchased in the Gift Store for $0.10). He’s also been a maintenance boy, and has worked in the Sky Dome, the Reptile Department, maintenance, and presented many snake shows, missing only one summer since 1975.
Things to know about Tom
- He grew up in Rapid City.
- His daughter worked at Reptile Gardens for a couple of summers.
- When he isn't at work, he is usually on the golf course.
- He has traveled to the Galapagos Islands with Joe to learn more about the Reptile Gardens’ most popular residents, the giant tortoises.