Our People: Leading From the Center

Maria Rainsdon worked as a bartender and a food server at upscale bistros throughout her college career at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and continued to work in fine dining in Ruidoso after graduating from school in December 2009.

Courtesy photo: Maria Rainsdon, general manager at the Clovis Civic Center, is shown above the center in a Clovis Fire Department crane.

Rainsdon said she picked up much of her customer service and problem solving skills during these years. She said this experience prepared her to become the general manager of the Clovis Civic Center, a position she started about a year ago.

Rainsdon was born in Pocatello, Idaho and grew up in Billings, Montana, Katy, Texas, Silver City and Las Cruces. She said she eventually wants to work and live in other places in the U.S. and abroad but enjoys her life in Clovis because the people are friendly and her job connects her to the community.

How did you land a career in the facility management industry? I worked at a mom and pop restaurant during college in Las Cruces. Because the owners couldn't afford a manager I really took on a manager role and trained a lot of the new staff and helped create policies and procedures. It was really easy to transition from being the head server there to being the head catering supervisor here (at the Clovis Civic Center).

What was the most fulfilling part of bartending and working in fine dining? I really like customer service. When you're doing fine dining you really get to know the people you serve. You create those beneficial relationships.

I would have a full section (at the bistro she worked) and the other servers' sections would be empty because I created good relationships with the same people who would come in and request my section.

There were couples who would come in every Friday at the same exact time from about November to February because it was nice and warm in Las Cruces. I learned to come up with win-win solutions on the fly.

Tell me a little about your job at the Clovis Civic Center: I oversee the whole operation of the Clovis Civic Center. Being part of a nationwide company I get the opportunity to be on our mentoring committee and also assist other facilities that reciprocate.

If I have a problem I will call a couple different facilities and see how they solve it and pick the solution that fits our community the best. I make sure we are selling things at the appropriate price for the area.

I make sure our food service runs smooth, the rooms are set correctly and the building is clean and maintained. I forecast the future, booking events. I have to make sure every client is as happy as we can make them.

My favorite part of the job is having something different to do every day. There is always a different event. Events change even from year to year. I get to meet a lot of people in the community, a lot of the doers.

They're the ones who put on events and work hard. You get to know them because you're working side by side with them to make the event happen. Events provide people memories to take home at the end of the day so every part has to be as perfect as possible.

How do the other places you've lived compare to Clovis? Silver City and Clovis are both small New Mexico towns but they're definitely different. Of course the landscape is different. Both towns are welcoming. When I moved to Silver City it was a tight-knit community.

In high school there's a little bit of "who's the new girl" mentality but as soon as people start to accept you they are so welcoming and you're like family. I found this in Clovis as well. Las Cruces was the same way. I really love New Mexico's attitude toward other people.

I find when I go on business trips to the East Coast people don't want to chit chat; they just mind their own business. Montana is cold but the summers are absolutely gorgeous. Katy is a town in an urban area that a lot of people move in and out of so there's always that welcoming spirit.

It's definitely different and there is southern hospitality. It was kind of a culture shock moving from an urban area to Silver City, New Mexico but moving from Montana to Texas to New Mexico has really taught me to be an adaptable person.

Living in several different places has really taught me how to talk to and relate to all different kinds of people. I'm definitely an extrovert so I really enjoy getting to know other people and hearing their stories.

Do you prefer living in a big city or a small town? I think every place is what you make of it. Here I have opportunities that I wouldn't have as a young professional in a big city. I've been given access to our community leaders and they are more than willing to talk to me about anything anytime.

This is the most awesome part about Clovis. You might have an opportunity to be part of a large company in a place like Katy, Texas (in the Houston area) but here you have the opportunity to move up quickly and learn every part of our business faster. I've lived primarily in the Western United States so I would eventually like to move around and see what other places are like.

How do you like to spend your free time? I participate in the community band and the community choir. I've played the trumpet since fifth grade. It's like riding a bicycle; you don't forget.

There's a certain musical itch you can't scratch if you don't pick up your horn and get back in touch with that part of who you are. I also really enjoy being outside. I like to run the 5k races around here for fun. My dog Petra likes to go on the runs with me. She runs on a leash, of course.

— Compiled by CMI staff writer Benna Sayyed

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