Rick Todd started out at Silver Dollar City as a summer parking attendant in 1967. Five decades later, he’s with the same company.
“In almost 50 years, I have held 18 different management positions,” says Todd, senior vice president of enterprise risk management and business administration for Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., where he was hired as a full-time employee in 1969. “Some of those positions were over departments or divisions I had little, if any, practical experience. I learned that applying the same leadership skills would get results in any area.”
In his first few years with the company, Todd was supervisor of parking, front gate manager and director of attractions. In 1976, he was promoted to director of operations for Silver Dollar City in Tennessee, which later became Dollywood. Two years later, Todd added director of personnel, design and planning and maintenance and construction to his resume.
“I have been committed to continuous learning throughout my career,” he says. “In most cases, I would take on the challenge to learn something and then lead the process to teach to our management team. I still teach a few leadership courses to our management team and to various organizations in our community.”
Todd moved back to Missouri in 1980 to work in the White Water division. Three years later, he and his team were put in charge of the development and design of rides, attractions and facilities at Silver Dollar City locations, including Dollywood. Todd was instrumental in the development of the Grand Palace concept, Grand Village, Showboat Branson Belle and in negotiations with the state of Georgia to lease and develop Stone Mountain Park.
Todd is responsible for all new business development and the first to vet new proposals. Receiving three to five a month to evaluate and analyze, Todd has directly been involved with many HFE startups and acquisitions.
“Some of these worked great and some did not,” he says. “The lesson here is in order to grow a business you must be willing to take some chances and be willing to fail. Some of the best learning comes from failure.”
In 2000, Todd moved into the position of vice president of strategic planning, human resources and safety before being promoted into his current role in 2010. In addition to new business, he is charged with strategic planning, business administration and enterprise risk management.
Through all of his positions with HFE, Todd is most proud of the role he’s played in hiring, training and developing other leaders in the company.
“Being a coach and mentor to someone who achieves their career aspirations and becomes a significant contributor to our company is the most rewarding thing I have ever done,” he says.
Todd is serving his third term as an alderman for the city of Branson, and he sits on the board for Cox Medical Center Branson. He has served on the boards for Ozark Medical Council, Branson Area Lake Chamber of Commerce, Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.