GHBA’s “Director of First Impressions” to Retire: An Interview with Janet Todd

Aimee BertrandFeatured

GHBA’s “Director of First Impressions,” Janet Todd, will be retiring on June 1, 2021. In honor of her retirement, I asked her about her time with the association. Janet’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Aimee Bertrand (AB): How did you end up working for GHBA?
Janet Todd (JT): I was working for a copier company at the time and was laid off. I sent an email to all my top customers letting them know that I was no longer with the industry but hoped to return soon. GHBA just happened to be one of my customers. Soon after, Donna Buenik called me to come in and interview. That was in 2010 and I was in the board room with several interviewees and Toy explained the job, the pay, etc. Toy called to offer me the job shortly after the individual interviews. I was thrilled and have been here ever since.

AB: What has been your favorite project or assignment at GHBA?
JT: My favorite projects were working the Million Dollar Circle and our first Realtor Rendezvous. They kept me busy, which I love. My favorite assignment is serving as the office manager at the GHBA. It has been rewarding in lots of ways, but the most is seeing the members laugh and enjoy our events. I like making them feel loved and appreciated. Many came into the office straight to the candy basket on my desk, specifically for Swedish Fish. Toy would always stop by the basket and say, there was a “reason” she came to get a Riesen candy. She loved those. For Greg Tomlinson, I always made sure he had Lacroix Lime soda in the fridges. I remember wondering how in the world I would ever remember all the members’ names that I came in contact with, but I did it!


AB: What will you miss about working at GHBA?
JT: I will miss quite a lot at the GHBA. As a matter of fact, I’m having so many mixed emotions right now. I’m scared. I have a little anxiety. I am sad to not see the faces I’ve spent my last 11 years with daily. And, I’m happy, all in one. I feel also, like the last year with all the COVID-19 has prepared me for what my future may look somewhat like.
I will miss getting all dressed up and girly for the Installation and PRISM events. It was so much fun to talk with the other staff about what we were wearing, even though it wasn’t our big night.

I will miss my co-workers and calling them by their nicknames, VB, DB, Meli-Moo, Simonee, Peggy-Poo, Bradley-O, and my Hunny Bunny, they all know who they are. I’ll miss chatting with them and talking about our lives and family. I’ve made a lot of great friendships with staff and our members, that I will miss.

AB: Tell us about your philosophy on being the “Director of First Impressions.”
The title of “Director of First Impressions” was given to me by a member, Michael Reiland, as we were having a conversation in the lobby at the GHBA. I’m a little vague on how our conversation led to that, but he was talking about having a passion in your work. I said I wasn’t even sure what would be my passion. He then said, sure you do! You are here to take care of your members and show them the face of GHBA…to serve and direct them for their needs. The face of “First Impressions.”

AB: Do you have any favorite stories about your time at GHBA that you would like to share?
A very long time ago, I went on my first (TAB) Rally Day. It was a pretty interesting bus trip and the friendship I made with Kevin Bertlesman. From then on, every time Kevin would come into the office or at a luncheon, he would bring me small pieces chocolate.

There are so many stories about golf tournaments and fishing trips that were so fun, you didn’t really feel like it was working. So many good conversations and laughter were had with our members.

AB: Have you encountered any difficult situations/decisions during your time at GHBA? If so, tell us about that.
I don’t really feel I had any difficult decisions or encounters without help from my co-workers. All of the team will help out each other when things become challenging. My biggest challenge was technology, seriously.

AB: What do you plan on doing in retirement?
After my retirement, I will relax for a short time. I want to step out of my box and travel to see some of my friends by car. I want to start a little garden above ground in a box. At some point, I feel like I will work part-time or find something that I may enjoy doing by volunteering. I have thought about becoming a mobile title signing agent part time.

As far as my four granddaughters, they make me smile just saying that word. Jaden and Naudia call me “Gamma” while Jaycie and Paisley call me “Mimi.” They are my heart.

AB: Do you have any parting thoughts?
I want to say that I have really truly enjoyed my employment with the GHBA. It is very different than working for a corporation. I have worked for three bosses in the past 11 years—Toy, Casey and now you (Aimee). They have never truly felt like a boss. It has always felt like family. I won’t say that there weren’t a few staff differences of opinions, but on the whole we all got along, past and present. The only part of my job that I won’t miss is filling the fridges up with water and soda.

I will miss my co-workers quite a bit and making new friends while we share our life with each other. I hope to hang on to those friendships that I have made. I will most certainly miss the members we serve. They have shown much love and respect for me over the years. I will miss my interactions these past 11 years with our vendors that we use to keep this building running. Some of my contacts have been with me this whole time. A big shout out to Claudia with Puraflo, I will miss her and so many more.

The freedom to do my job and know the boss has faith in me. I will miss our birthday celebrations, fishing tournaments, Million Dollar Circle, and pretty much all of the events, because they kept me connected to our members.

On behalf of GHBA, it is my honor to thank Janet for more than 11 years of service to our team. We appreciate you, Janet, and wish you well in your next adventures.

About the Author

Aimee Bertrand

Executive Vice President & CEO of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA)