Carolyn Bogott: HHH’s Holly Johnson learns along the way
Holly Johnson’s philosophy is to take opportunities as they come along and learn as you go. Austin is so fortunate that she took the opportunity to become the Executive Director of the Historic Hormel Home. She says she has developed a PhD. in “Being Flexible.”
A degree in hotel and restaurant management from Purdue University was Holly’s first step toward a dream of owning a chain of hotels. Her first job brought her to Austin as manager of the country club. She has also worked in sales at Hormel company and at Hormel Sales Cabin. In all of her work, she says good customer service and personal interactions are the most important elements for success.
Holly doesn’t admit to any regrets about not running a hotel chain. She says her current position brings her joy and has helped her to discover new things about herself. She has come to love history and enjoys finding out unusual tidbits about the Hormel family or about the previous rental periods and Girl Scout activities that went on in this home.
The main priorities for The Hormel Home are to preserve and share the history of the Hormel Family, to honor and share their values of hospitality, education, and their legacy of music. The history panels on the walls throughout the building, plus tours explaining the architecture and the history are basic to the programming. The activities for children with autism are one aspect of the educational program. And the many concerts indoors and in the garden honor the Hormel’s legacy of appreciation of music.
Prior to the pandemic, The Hormel Home hosted four to five hundred events a year. Some events were for small groups and some used the maximum space for 200. Holly says they warmly welcome any event that will fit in their space. Currently they are open at 25 percent capacity, with all the current safety policies in effect as to social distancing, masks and sanitizing routines.
Contrary to what some people think, The Hormel Home is an independent non-profit organization. They are not part of the Hormel Company or the Hormel Foundation. They are financed from revenue from rental and tours, contributions and grants.
Austin is fortunate to have this lovely historic landmark and to have it managed by such an open and creative person. Holly says she loves puzzles and loves to see the pieces come together for a complicated event. Her advice is sound: “Be open, as you never know what is coming. Embrace your opportunities.”