CBS’s “Undercover Boss” reveals Branson’s real “undercover boss”

Joel Manby, the president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), will be the “Undercover Boss” on tonight’s episode of the new CBS hit reality show, “Undercover Boss.” The underlying premise of the show is that a high level company executive goes “undercover” within their company at the “worker bee level” to see what is actually going on outside of the hallowed halls of the corporate office.

That should be of particular interest to those of us who live and work in the Branson area and the millions of visitors who visit Branson each year because HFE operates the majority of Branson’s most popular attractions. This includes Branson’s oldest and most popular attraction, the award winning 1880’s themed theme park “Silver Dollar City,” “Ride the Ducks,” the “Show Boat Branson Belle,” “White Water” and, in partnership with Dolly Parton, “Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.”

All indications are that Manby will be undercover at Silver Dollar City and the Showboat Branson Belle in Branson. In a media statement made by Manby promoting the show he said, ‘“Undercover Boss,’ gave us the chance to see if we were delivering on what we feel makes HFE different – our people, our ‘Servant Leadership’ philosophy, and core values. Additionally, we knew that our employees’ dedication and passion to our company’s mission to ‘Create Memories Worth Repeating’ would be evident.”

Not a month ago, the Ole Seagull had the opportunity to interview Brad Thomas, the General Manager for Silver Dollar City. During that interview he asked Thomas, “Is a large part of the experience that guests will have at Silver Dollar City related to the character and quality of its employees?” Without hesitation Thomas said, “Absolutely. The experience at Silver Dollar City is about rides, festivals and shows, but beyond anything it’s about the people. We have employees who have been here for as long as 42 years and they truly take pride in what they do and their passion is to serve our guests.”

For over 50 years Silver Dollar City has been a blessing to our area in so many ways. It is a world class theme park, has brought and will continue to bring tens of millions of people to Branson, has marketed Branson as a destination for decades with millions of its own dollars, is a one of the area’s biggest employers, is a major source of legislative leadership and influence for the Branson area and yet, in the opinion of an Ole Seagull, its greatest blessing to Branson is none of those.

It is the faithfulness of its employees for 50 years of passion devoted to serving their guests and helping them “Create Memories Worth Repeating.” For 50 years those guests, their children and their children’s children have remembered those memories and come back to Branson to relive and share them. Most would agree that has been a blessing not only for Silver Dollar City, the development of HFE, but the entire Branson area.

Sure, it has a lot to do with fun, excitement and entertainment, but it takes the personal intervention of people with a passion for serving the needs of their customer to really make it a “Memory Worth Repeating.” What a blessing it would be to the millions of guests Branson will have this year if every employer in town could have the same confidence in the passion of their employees to provide their customers with “Memories Worth Repeating” expressed by Manby and Thomas.

Just as important however, is the passion of the individual employee themselves to do what they can to ensure that the Branson guests they interface with have “Memories Worth Repeating.” At the end of the day, the real “Undercover Boss” in Branson is our guests. Thank you Silver Dollar City employees, past and present, for 50 years of passion, service and example in actually “Creating Memories Worth Repeating” and all that has meant to Branson.

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