Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Spotlight on Mike Linnabery: The dynamic leader of the Granbury Conference Center

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In July 2019, Mike Linnabery stepped into the role of operations manager of the Lake Granbury Conference Center, a sprawling 20,000-square-foot facility known for hosting a variety of community events. He hit the ground running as the center buzzed with events ranging from financial wellness workshops to quilting classes and sci-fi festivals. However, Linnabery soon faced an unprecedented challenge that would test his leadership and resilience: the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 swept across the globe, the United States government issued warnings in March 2020, urging people to wear masks, maintain social distancing and stay home. The once-bustling conference center transformed into a ghost town. Ironically, one of Linnabery's favorite books is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, in which America has been turned upside down; a dystopian nightmare where the character Clarisse says, "No one has time anymore for anyone else."

During this period, Linnabery remained optimistic and proactive, contributing to a positive outcome for the conference center. Embracing Albert Einstein's words, "In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity," Linnabery and his team took advantage of the downtime to make significant improvements.

Reflecting on the obstacles posed by the pandemic, Linnabery said, "It (COVID-19) was obviously a challenge (for us) like it was with everybody in the community, so we took that time … restructured our schedule to do things like resurface the entire floor." The project involved grinding concrete, resurfacing and staining, perfectly timed with the pandemic-induced lull in scheduled events. Linnabery's mindset of making the most of each day carried the team through the tough times.

His personal interests and background further illustrate Linnabery's character. Growing up in Sugarland, he spent his summers playing baseball, a sport he still loves. He is a devoted fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros — he even worked briefly in the marketing department for the Houston Astros. At 15, he worked as a sacker at Randall's grocery store, where his affinity for interacting with people became evident. "I am a people person," Linnabery says. "I like people, all people."

Outside of his professional life, Linnabery is a devoted father to his two adult children, Carlin and Haven. He built enduring relationships and a strong support system with his sons as they grew up. They made the most of every day, whether it was boating, golfing or hiking. The most memorable, albeit bittersweet, parenting moment was when each of his boys left the nest—moving off to college.

In his nearly three decades in the Granbury area, Linnabery served as director of operations for Glen Lake Camp and Retreat Center and owned and operated Inn on the River in Glen Rose. His path to managing the Lake Granbury Conference Center was influenced by Tammy Dooley, director of Visit Granbury. Years earlier, Dooley had been a mentor to Linnabery, so after he sold the Inn on the River, her connection providentially opened the door for the Texas State University graduate to manage the Lake Granbury Conference Center.

Faith is a cornerstone in Linnabery's life, guiding his approach to his work and interactions. "I like seeing lasting moments and memories being made," he says. With COVID-19 now in the rearview mirror, the Lake Granbury Conference Center's calendar is again bustling with exciting bookings. One particularly heartwarming, memorable occasion for Linnabery was an event for people having difficulty making ends meet. The focus was on teaching registrants budgeting and money management skills. The event, supported by multiple vendors, provided services, groceries and utilities, and illustrates the center's role in community support.

Linnabery’s challenge for the future is maximizing hotel occupancy with two-day conference center bookings, creating another win-win for the city.

For those considering a career in the hospitality business, Linnabery offers sage advice: "They have to genuinely love interaction with people. They have to look for the things that work — the things that are positive — the things that would make people's experiences good … They have to learn to never say no." Linnabery emphasizes the importance of finding a way to say no without actually saying no, a skill crucial for effective leadership.

As the Lake Granbury Conference Center looks to the future, Linnabery's leadership, community focus and unwavering optimism continue to drive its success and impact on the community.