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Wood County Human Resources director retiring

Reed, who would only say he’s “retirement” age, has been a human resources director for 40 years, working for three companies prior to taking the Wood County position. When Reed decided he wanted a change from his previous position, he also knew he wanted a challenge.

“I had never worked in the public sector before,” Reed said.

Reed said he liked Wisconsin Rapids and Wood County. The Manitowoc native liked the educational and recreational opportunities available in Wood County.

During the past 15 years, the county has benefited from Reed’s vast knowledge of human resources, said Trent Miner, Wood County Board vice chairman and Executive Committee chairman.

“He has laid out the issues that come up with employee relations,” Miner said. “He does it very well and very methodically and gives the County Board good options to help with the decision making.”

What Reed said he has liked best about his time as Wood County Human Resources director is the diversity of challenges he has faced. Recently, he was part of a discussion during which he was asked what a normal day is like for him.

“The answer is there is no normal day,” Reed said. “Every day, Human Resources is called upon to deal with situations they haven’t dealt with before.”

A good human resources team makes the challenges easier, and Reed said he currently has a fantastic team.

“I’m pleased with the most professional human resources team I’ve ever worked with anywhere,” Reed said.

That team has helped him through a lot of a challenges. When Gov. Scott Walker reduced the bargaining power of government employee unions as part of balancing the state budget in 2011, county governments across the state were left with the question of how to handle situations previously dealt with through union negotiations.

Going from a union-type atmosphere to a nonunion atmosphere and getting employee involvement was a difficult challenge, Miner said. Reed is a big advocate for creating a collaborative employee environment, Miner said.

Reed said when he started with the county, administrators had a mentality in which they dealt with almost every situation by reading a union contract.

“I had to spend a lot of my time negotiating and interpreting contracts,” Reed said.

Then things began to change, and officials started really managing employees and working with them as individuals with individual problems and not just as union members, Reed said.

Moving away from a union management system has been difficult for many managers, Reed said.

“They have to stop and think about situations and how they’ll impact the county and individual employees, but the decisions are much better,” Reed said.

The thing Reed said he is most proud of accomplishing in his time working for Wood County is increasing employee involvement. The county developed a formalized feedback group that meets quarterly, Reed said, the first of its kind in the state.

“The insight and suggestions coming out of that group are just fantastic,” Reed said.

The feedback group is something that will continue after Reed’s retirement, Miner said.

Reed and his wife, Cheryl, have big plans for his retirement, he said. They want to do a lot of traveling, beginning with a trip to Florida planned for shortly after his last day May 5. The couple also plan to go to Alaska.

“Then, the list just keeps going,” Reed said.

The couple will spend some time on land they own in Barron County. Reed said he plans to do “a lot of fishing, a lot of hunting, a lot of hiking and a lot of metal detecting.”