"It doesn't seem possible! It's gone by very quickly," says Highland Springs Sales Director Christina Christie, of celebrating her 20-year anniversary with Erickson Senior Living.
Residents and staff alike at the North Dallas, Tex., community appreciate her enthusiastic spirit - which is no surprise to Tom Neubauer, Erickson Senior Living's executive vice president of sales, marketing, and communications, who offered Christie her first job two decades ago. He was impressed the first time they met.
"She is instantly disarming," says Neubauer. "She engages you in a way that makes you feel like you've known her longer than you have. We connected right away. I consider her among the very best hires I've made in my career."
Start of a journey
A native of Sidney, Ohio, Christie and her future husband Steve were high school sweethearts who met waiting tables at a local Pizza Hut.
After earning a marketing management degree from Cincinnati State, they married and moved to the Boston area for his electrical engineering career. There, she landed a position as marketing director for a small assisted living facility.
Christie thought the job would draw on her experience in marketing, but it turned out to be mostly sales-driven, which was a little outside her comfort zone.
"But that's how I happened upon the sales side of things - and discovered I really enjoyed it!" she recalls.
In 2002, Christie was contacted about a sales position at Brooksby Village, an Erickson Senior Living community in Peabody, Mass. Accepting that position launched her long and happy career with Erickson.
Christie expresses her ongoing gratitude for Neubauer - that he "took a chance" and hired her when she was just 23.
On the move, again
After three years as a sales counselor at Brooksby Village, Christie heard that Erickson Senior Living was expanding by building a new community in Texas.
"I was very interested in learning more about the Dallas, Tex., property, and my husband thought Dallas would be perfect for finding an engineering job," Christie says.
When a recruiter from Texas Instruments contacted Steve with the perfect position, Christie thought, "it's almost too good to be true."
The couple settled in Allen, Tex., and later welcomed their two daughters, now 14 and 16.
Highland Springs was still under construction when Christie started in 2005 as a sales counselor, getting to know people who were interested in moving into the new community.
"For the first eighteen months, we were really just sharing the vision of what life at an Erickson Senior Living community is like," she explains.
Expanding the market
In early 2016, Christie was promoted to sales director, responsible for ensuring that Highland Springs continued to grow and offer Erickson's vibrant lifestyle to even more new residents of the community. As part of her leadership position, she also works on new development projects and manages staff members.
"My current role involves more of the 'bigger picture,'" she says. "But I still have the opportunity to interact with prospective residents on a daily basis - and that's the best part."
Since starting at Highland Springs, Christie says she has loved watching everything and everyone come together as a cohesive, friendly community.
"When I started, there weren't many Erickson Senior Living communities outside of the East Coast, where Erickson was so prominent. So, we really had to make a name for Erickson, and Highland Springs allowed us to do so in the Dallas market," Christie recalls. "Now, we are starting construction on our third neighborhood. I'm excited to see the whole development through from start to finish!"
Jason Atwell, vice president of regional sales for Erickson Senior Living, has worked closely with Christie for the last 16 years.
"She always does a great job. It's easy to see how successful she's been at leading her department through continuous growth," Atwell says. "Her partnerships with other community leaders, internally and externally, are exemplary. She is a model leader in our sales organization, generous in her kindness, full of integrity, and strategic in her leadership. She brings laughter and fun to her role and is a great business colleague and friend."
"She's amazing," Neubauer agrees. "She has excellent people skills, an incredible work ethic, and a commitment to doing whatever it takes to be successful - and doing it the right way. Her skills are unmatched. We are so lucky and thankful that she wears an Erickson Senior Living badge because she makes everybody around her better, including me."
"Erickson has supported me during every stage of my career," says Christie, and she's excited to see where it takes her.