Employees of the Year
Exceptional Stars of an Exceptional Year
This year we’ve relied on our staff’s dedication, versatility and above-and-beyond service approach to make our way through the changing landscape of the hospitality industry. We closed during Montana’s stay-at-home order and when we reopened, the stakes were higher. We spent months changing everything we’d fine-tuned over our first ten years in an effort to protect those who we relied on. Management stated from day one that employee safety had to be established before we could safely welcome back guests.
Though we are a small operation in the hospitality world, The Ranch at Rock Creek is the largest employer in Granite County. 180 jobs were at risk if we couldn’t reopen. And we could only reopen if our staff redoubled their safety efforts, covered shifts for any staff member staying home when they weren’t feeling well, and became proficient at executing the new standards we required. Last year, we recognized only three people, but we had to expand our employee of the year award to include the exceptional efforts these seven individuals achieved this year. It was far from just these people that took that commitment seriously, but we are very pleased to recognize the year’s shining stars. Thank you, sincerely, to all our staff for your commitment during a hard year, and thank you to our guests for supporting the safety efforts we put in place.
Mountain Mover: Candace Sellman, Spa Supervisor
Our Mountain Mover award winner is always going the extra mile to help their teammates, cover shifts and be flexible with scheduling. They understand that a ranch requires the wearing of many hats and understanding the extraordinary times call for flexibility and positivity. Spa Supervisor Candace Sellman is the epitome of Mountain Mover, helping out with dishwashing, housekeeping and driving while creating a safe experience in the spa. If you’ve ever had a massage from Candace, you’ll know she is exceptional at her most specialized role, but she seems capable of anything she puts her mind to.
“Candace is a rock star in every way you look at her. She gives incredible treatments, she handles operations in spa, she looks for any other people she can assist when she is not busy with her primary position. This year she has been a vital helper with housekeeping, food and beverage, and laundry, often coming in before or staying after her schedule in the Granite Spa. She has done the same with assisting the front desk in doing drives. We love her and appreciate every thing she does for The Ranch as a whole!” ~ Spa Manager Brooke Bucher
Master Ranchers: Ranch Manager Rob Laird and HVAC Technician David Todd
Our master ranchers excel at specialized skills that serve to enhance both their department and The Ranch in general. “Rancher” means many things at our property because we are both a working cattle ranch and a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star guest ranch. We have two winners in this category because it’s impossible to separate the importance of the agricultural and tourism operations of our ranch.
“Not only does Rob have the skills and work ethic developed over a lifetime of ranching in the region, Rob ALWAYS takes the time to teach. He is always there to answer a million questions and teach us anything and everything we could ever want to know. It could be about fencing, calving, pasture rotation, bovine pink eye (in the summer or winter, it is different I now know), the breeding process, throwing a rope, getting your horse to turn on a cow, trimming a hoof and more. It is his quiet leadership and guidance that makes him most special to me and our department. He shares this knowledge with our guests through the Ride Along with a Rancher activity.” ~ Lead Wrangler Ariel Roselle
“David consistently goes above and beyond his HVAC role at the ranch. His skillset allows him to work on so many different pieces of equipment around The Ranch, including boilers, furnaces, refrigerators, chillers, ice machines and all sorts of kitchen equipment, and he is able to fix everything he works on. David always has a positive attitude and is willing to take on any project no matter the difficulty or duration and works whatever hours are necessary to complete his work without interfering with other ranch operations. I am happy to have him as a part of the team.” ~ Engineering Director Michael Heinz
Homestead Hero: Lead Fly Fishing Guide Eli Smith
Our homestead hero is chosen from the many safety-conscious team leaders. During Covid and in the Montana wilderness, the adventurous (and occasionally dangerous) task of navigating inclement weather and outdoor adventures, our hero ensures The Ranch is always running as safely as possible. For Eli this was anything from mask wearing, social distancing, lightning warnings to emergency preparedness and his role as a local first-responder.
“Eli is a nose to the grindstone worker. His knowledge of what it needs to be a professional guide and outdoorsman is only amplified by his skills as an EMT. His calm demeanor and professionalism have led our ranch team and community through emergency situations with grace and yes, safety first always.” ~ Activities Manager Kelsey Bruns
Ranch Trailblazer: Front Desk Agent Glory Aulik
Our Ranch Trailblazer shows exceptional leadership skills, stepping in during times of need to take charge and ensure The Ranch runs smoothly. Always leading by example, winner Glory remains cool, collective and cheerful – always ready to lead by example.
“From the day Glory started she has been making improvements at The Ranch. Guests and employees alike benefit from her positive attitude, efficiency and willingness to create memorable experiences. Her natural ability to lead and her desire for excellence makes her a real Ranch Trailblazer.” ~ Director of Rooms Linda Walser
Service Superstar: Server Kayden Windsor
In our seventh consecutive year as a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property, our service-driven staff shines in what we refer to as “homestead hospitality” – an approach that values service and personality equally. Kayden is a perfect example of someone who is able to deliver a personalized touch and show a sincere interest in providing a Five-Star experience.
“The energy that Kayden brings to The Ranch at Rock Creek is contagious-during 2020 it’s the one thing you want to catch. His attitude sets the tone for service and the mood, not only in the dining room, but across The Ranch. Not only does he work tirelessly in the Food and Beverage department he has helped out in housekeeping, at the Front Desk and on drives. He has the energy of a Christmas elf, 365 days a year. Kayden is second to none when it comes to Hospitality; it comes naturally to him and we are lucky to have him on our team at the Ranch. As steady as the sun comes up every morning so does Kayden come to work with a smile on his face.” ~ Food & Beverage Director Christina Wernikowski
Manager of the Year: Housekeeping Manager Stephanie Boutry
Our Managers have worked especially hard this year, so often working tirelessly in the day-to-day operations and managing personnel and service standards at the same time. Housekeeping is the backbone of any property, but especially in this year that required a sky-high level of spotlessness. Stephanie worked at The Ranch for its previous owner, before it was a guest ranch, almost 14 years ago. Since returning she has been a force at The Ranch, never accepting “good enough” and managing her housekeeping team with compassion and spirit.
“It would be impossible to be a successful luxury property without our great Housekeeping team, led for over two years by Stephanie. She is both compassionate and driven by perfection. Every time we walk through a room to inspect, Stephanie looks for ways to improve our guests’ experience. No detail is too small and our guests regularly comment about how great the Housekeeping team is and how impressed they are with the thoughtful touches they return to in their room like eyeglass cleaner placed next to their glasses.” ~ General Manager Jon Martin
Thanks to all our staff who kept us going through this particularly challenging year. We know that our second decade will be even better than the first, if we’re able to surmount these challenges and improve the guest experience.