Cordes set to retire

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, August 28, 2010

Allan Cordes is retiring as Mower County's human resources director after nearly two decades in county government. - Eric Johnson/

After almost two decades in county government, Allan Cordes is retiring as Mower County’s human resources director and is shifting his focus to finding his next trophy.

Mower County's human resources director Allan Cordes talks about his time in county government from his office. - Eric Johnson/

Cordes’ retirement comes as no surprise, as he’s nearing the end of a 1,044 hour phased retirement. During that time, he worked two or three days a week so the county could save money. He’ll likely be done by the end of August.

Cordes started working as Mower County’s human services director March 8, 1999. Before that, he worked the same role in Nobles County for more than four years. Cordes has worked in county government for about 16 years, and he worked in human resources in the private sector before that.

Email newsletter signup

Private companies and county government have their differences. The biggest difference, Cordes said is the statues that have to be followed in county government. For example, veterans get points when interviewing job candidates.

He also noted there’s more of a process in making decisions in government.

“In some cases, it seems like it takes a little bit longer in county government to make some decisions and get things done,” he said.

Willing to listen’

Cordes said he hoped he’s always had open communication with all the staff.

“In this job you have to be willing to listen,” he said.

Cordes said he always wanted county employees to know they could talk to him and the conversation would remain confidential. He also said he felt like he was able to work with the employees and management.

“You’re wearing two hats,” Cordes said. “You’re wearing the hat for the employee for benefits and union stuff, but your other hat is on the management side when you get into negotiations. It can be difficult sometimes, but I think very rewarding, too.”

“You’re serving both sides,” he added.

Never a typical day

As a human services director, Cordes said every day on the job was different as he’d deal with personnel concerns, or employee leaves.

“I’m not sure on this job there ever is a typical day,” Cordes said.

At the same time, Cordes said the job has been rewarding. He also looked back on re-writing all the county’s policies as a memorable accomplishment.

When Cordes came, the county had a $5,000 whole life insurance policy and he helped renegotiate a $50,000 term life policy for the same amount of money. He also was happy with some of the changes made during his time to other benefits plans, like insurance.

Cordes also worked to plan for employee retirements, so the county could plan ahead. That has been difficult, however, as employees are working longer due to the current economy.

Hiring new employees has been a challenge of late, as Cordes said they had more than 100 people apply for a clerical position in the new jail. The challenge is to identify top candidates based on things like education and experience to call in for interviews.

While a high number of candidates can present challenges, Cordes noted employees have far more options when choosing potential employees.

“The quality of candidates, I think, that we’re getting is much better with this economy than what it was a few years ago,” Cordes said. “A few years ago, we may have gotten 25 to 30 people to apply. Now, we’re getting three to four times that amount.”

Hunting for the trophy

Cordes is currently working three days one week and two days the next week to stretch the phased retirement until the new human resources director is trained in.

Cordes grew up in the Rushford area, and he moved back here to be closer to his family.

Cordes and his wife, Cathy, also plan to travel. Cathy retired as a nurse at Mayo last May. The two have been to each of the 50 states except Alaska, where they plan to travel next year. The two plan to spend a few months south in the winter, but Cordes noted they will definitely be in Minnesota during the fall and hunting season.

Cordes and Cathy have two daughters, who both live near Mazzepa, and five grandchildren. Cordes also said they’re looking forward to going to his grandchildren’s’ sporting events.

Cordes and Cathy moved out of their Stewartville home to a 70-acre property near Goodhue last year. Cordes plans to spend much of his time hunting and fishing.

Cordes hunts deer and turkey with both firearm and bow and arrow. Now that he has more time, Cordes said he wants to dedicate more time to blending photography and hunting.

Not only does Cordes commonly take a camera out with him as he hunts, but he also has about six still cameras mounted around his property. These cameras take pictures when triggered by motion, like if an animal passes by.

The cameras allow Cordes and his family to track animals on his property. The cameras don’t only provide an image of the deer, but they also give the time and location of the deer.

“Really, you’re patterning the deer and when they’re going to be there,” Cordes said.

Along with the pattern, Cordes can also track the age of the animals on his property.

“I’m not just hunting for meat, I’m hunting for the trophy,” Cordes said. “We let all the little bucks grow up, so we’re looking for mature bucks.”

Last year, Cordes tracked nine different bucks on his property.

“If you didn’t have those, it’s a guessing game because you didn’t know what’s there,” he said.