Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

May 10, 2013

Wild Adventures staffer on ‘Undercover Boss: Epic Employees’

VALDOSTA — A Wild Adventures employee returns to national television this evening in “Undercover Boss: Epic Employees.”

Four years ago, Albert Sandford worked as a trainer of new admissions employees at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. In late 2009, Herschend Family Entertainment was celebrating 50 years of being a family-owned business, and cameras were a normal part of the job as media covered the unique nature of a business being started and operated by the same family for a half century.

So, it wasn’t unusual when a camera crew arrived in October 2009 to film Sandford train a new employee to deal with the public.

“When you come to work for Herschend, we think of each new hire as a new addition to the family,” Sandford says. As a trainer, Sandford was the man to

initiate that family approach to welcoming and preparing new employees for the corporation’s work environment as much as preparing them for the duties of their new jobs.

What Sandford didn’t know was that the man he trained in front of the cameras was Joel Manby, HFE’s president and CEO. Manby was in disguise for what was then a new show, “Undercover Boss,” which had yet to air.

In a filmed reveal, Sandford later learned Manby’s true identity. It was an emotional moment.

“Undercover Boss” viewers only saw Manby and Sandford working together for a few minutes on the episode which aired March 2010 on CBS, but they spent the entire day working together at Silver Dollar City.

“If you treat your co-workers like family, you open up to one another,” Sandford says, “so we established a personal connection, but this took place over a full day.”

Sandford was not only surprised to learn Manby was the company’s CEO and that the filming was for a network reality show, but he was surprised to learn he qualified for HFE’s employee programs.

Unlike some CEOs on “Undercover Boss,” Manby didn’t lavish cash and gifts on the company employees he encountered. Instead, he strengthened HFE’s existing programs and ensured that the employees he met while undercover qualified for them.

Under HFE’s Share It Forward program, Sandford qualified for a full scholarship to the university of his choice, with the stipulation he must continue working at a Herschend park each summer.

Though raised in the Branson area, and with family still there, Sandford was not satisfied with the types of business programs offered by Missouri universities. With his then-fiancee, Christie, Sandford looked for a business program offered by a university near other HFE parks.

They discovered Valdosta State University, a neighbor of HFE park Wild Adventures.

“We found Valdosta State University, this gem of a school in South Georgia ... with a stellar business program,” Sandford says.

Albert and Christie married and the Sandfords relocated to Valdosta by fall 2010, when he enrolled in VSU and took a job with Wild Adventures. The park also hired Christie, who works in the finance department. She is enrolled in radiology classes at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College.

Since arriving at Wild Adventures, Albert Sandford has earned promotions to become a supervisor of admissions.

He describes the work as “very fulfilling. Some people may think I have received special attention or I’m an exception because of the show, but I wasn’t given anything that isn’t already available to everyone else. ... I earned them through programs already in place.”

The Sandfords will not be in town to watch the special “Undercover Boss: Epic Employees” episode with fellow Wild Adventures employees tonight.

Having completed his junior year last week and still a few weeks before the park opens daily for summer, the Sandfords are in Missouri, on a pre-planned vacation, to visit family.

“Undercover Boss: Epic Employees” is scheduled to air 8 p.m. today, May 10, CBS.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpg SGMC hires three cardiovascular surgeons

    South Georgia Medical Center has hired three cardiovascular surgeons, according to the hospital Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moody firefighter 2.jpg Moody firefighter feeds burning passion for food

    He can bust down a burning door and save lives from a flaming inferno. If the kitchen survives, he might whip up some elegant blackened salmon.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • vpd accreditation.jpg VPD receives national reaccreditation

    The Valdosta Police Department received reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and is ready to file for accreditation for the regional crime lab.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fussell Tire & Service to expand into new facility

    An existing business will open a new facility and expand its operations, according to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014

  • Brown Johnson Solis Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpeg Cardiac, Vascular, Thoracic & Endovascular Surgeons Join South Georgia Medical Center

    The three surgeons will operate a full-time medical practice and professional office named the SGMC CardioVascular Institute.  The medical office, which is located in Suite 230 of the Professional Building which is adjacent to SGMC, will be open 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140729-Gas_Leak002.jpg Roadway closed after second gas line break

    For a second day in a row, workers from Valdosta’s Utilities Department struck a natural gas service line causing a leak that shut down a portion of Forrest Street, officials said.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dump truck arrest photo.jpg Deputies nab stolen dump truck suspects

    The search for suspected dump truck thieves ended Tuesday afternoon with the arrest of two men in the same area officials searched extensively Monday.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bears sighted on Baytree

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road this week could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Johnson family files second suit against school

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 30, 2014

  • Teachers Harvest

    With students and teachers returning to the classroom in the coming days, the need for school supplies is at the top of numerous priority lists. For teachers, this often means spending their money to ensure classrooms are fully stocked.

    July 30, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results