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Passionate about their jobs

Highland Springs’ original employees reflect on the past decade

Created date

October 14th, 2016
Nancy Hebert runs the Hillcrest Market at Highland Springs.

Nancy Hebert runs the Hillcrest Market at Highland Springs.

When Highland Springs opened its doors ten years ago, it was hard to tell who was more excited, the community’s staff members or its pioneer residents. 

“We had 18 months of anticipation as the community was built,” says Sales Counselor Christina Christie. “To see it all come together at the grand opening was such a highlight.”

Now, in honor of Highland Springs’ tenth anniversary, three of the community’s original employees share stories from the past decade and their hopes for the future.

Christina Christie, sales counselor

With the exception of two maternity leaves, Sales Counselor Christina Christie has been a constant in the sales office. She’s worked with nearly everyone who has moved to Highland Springs.

A native of Ohio, Christie began her career with Erickson on the East Coast, where she worked as a sales counselor for Brooksby Village in Peabody, Mass., from 2002 to 2005.

“My husband was offered a job at Texas Instruments in Dallas,” says Christie. “I knew that Erickson was planning to build a community here, so I applied for the sales counselor job at Highland Springs. We moved to Texas in February 2005.”

Construction of Highland Springs began a month later. 

“We started taking appointments as soon as we opened the welcome center in March 2005,” says Christie. “The construction team was still doing site work, so we didn’t have any buildings to show prospective residents. We used virtual tours of other Erickson communities to give them an idea of what Highland Springs would be like.”

Christie says her experience at Brooksby proved invaluable during that time.

“It was much different selling a community on paper,” she says. “Fortunately, I’d been at Brooksby and knew what it was like. From that perspective, it was easy for me to talk about amenities and floor plans because I was familiar with them.”

Christie says the pioneers—the group of residents who moved into the community’s first residence building—acted on faith. 

“They trusted us to deliver the community they’d been promised,” says Christie. “Once they moved in and started enjoying the lifestyle, many of their friends followed. The second residence building filled up quickly.”

Ten years later, the community is growing again. Highland Springs opened a new residence building, Willow Ridge, in 2015, and construction is under way on another residence building, Pecan Grove, scheduled to open in late 2016.

“It’s exciting to see the growth of the community and how fast the apartments in Pecan Grove are being reserved,” says Christie. “As Baby Boomers begin to explore their options, we’re noticing a drop in our average move-in age. A lot of people in their 60s and 70s are touring the community.”

Christie says she continues to see Highland Springs appealing to the next generation of retirees.

“We offer a friendly environment and carefree lifestyle,” she says. “We also offer integrated health care services. There’s nothing comparable out there. Our residents are vibrant, active, and enjoying life at the community.”

Nancy Hebert, manager of the Hillcrest Market

Ten years ago, Nancy Hebert had three job offers in one day. She opted for the role of store manager at Highland Springs.

“I watched Highland Springs as it was built,” says Hebert. “The thing that appealed to me about this position was the opportunity to set up the shop. It was just an empty shell when I first saw it.”

The Hillcrest Market at Highland Springs is the community’s general store. It is located inside the Hillcrest Clubhouse and sells everything from milk and eggs to greeting cards and umbrellas.

“What separates this market from other retail locations is our consumer base,” says Hebert. “The residents are like family to me. I know about their children and grandchildren. I know what type of candy or snacks they like.”

Hebert relies on those personal interactions when she orders inventory for the store. 

“I try to stock items that residents request,” she says. “We also carry jewelry, clothing, and gift items for those who like to come in and browse.”

Ten years into her job, Nancy says her role is evolving. In 2015, the market began selling breakfast on Monday through Friday, making it a popular destination for the morning crowd.

“I feel like I have a purpose at Highland Springs,” says Hebert. “It’s all about the residents and the relationships we’ve built.”

Joyce Cates, restaurant manager

Joyce Cates has filled a number of roles during her ten years at Highland Springs—general services coordinator, front desk supervisor, finance associate, and custom interiors coordinator. 

“Every job is about customer service,” says Cates, currently the restaurant manager at the North Dallas community. “In every role, my goal has been to make sure our residents are happy and satisfied.”

Prior to joining the team at Highland Springs, Cates worked in customer relations for Schlotzsky’s Deli and Coca-Cola.

“Outstanding customer service begins with good communication and anticipating the needs of the client,” says Cates. “At Highland Springs, our focus is customer-centered.”

Cates pioneered the concierge approach to customer service at Highland Springs by implementing guidelines for how to best serve the people who live there.

Looking ahead, Cates encourages her team in dining services to consider future customers and anticipate their preferences and needs.

“We’re constantly keeping an eye on the residents of the future,” says Cates. “Our customer in 2026 will be different from the customers we had in 2006.”

As Highland Springs continues to grow and welcome new residents, Cates is certain the community is ready to pave the way into its next decade.

“Erickson Living offers the best concept in retirement living,” says Cates. “There’s really no parallel in the industry.”