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Rob Johnson Announces Retirement at 30th Anniversary Celebration

During a party at Altair Global’s Frisco, Texas headquarters to celebrate his 30th anniversary with the organization, Rob Johnson, Senior Vice President of Client Services at Altair Global, gave a tearful, joke-filled speech to a room full of colleagues as announced with heartfelt emotion his upcoming retirement.

Rob’s journey with Altair has been an incredible one, marked by growth, transformation, and, most importantly, unwavering dedication. Over these 30 years, Rob has witnessed the company evolve, contributing to its growth and success every step of the way. Ahead of his official last day on October 31st, we asked Rob to walk down memory lane. Read on for 30 questions for 30 storied years.

30 Questions for 30 Years

1. Altair was founded 34 years ago. You joined the company 30 years ago. What number employee were you?

I was probably the 15th employee at that time.

2. Pop quiz! What was Altair Global called back then? 

AmeriCorp! And we knew to make sure we said “AmeriCorp” and not “AmeriCore!”

3. Who hired you?

Bill Plummer, who at the time was President and CEO of the company.

4. Do you remember your first day?

Yes, I do. It was August 5, 1993. We were in a small office in Addison, TX.

5. What happened next?

Shortly after starting we learned we had been awarded the group move for TIG (Transamerica Insurance Group) to move over 480 employees from Los Angeles, CA to Dallas, TX. We took a team of people (both existing employees and new employees) with us to LA and set up a Relocation Center at TIG’s office in Woodland Hills. It was almost a herculean effort to get people hired, develop relocation polices for TIG, set up the relo center (open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) to ensure all 480 employees had the opportunity to have a one-on-one counseling session with Altair, a lender, and a household goods (HHG) van line contact. We worked hard but had fun too! At night and on weekends the team and our business partners enjoyed southern California to relieve some of the stress – some of us still reminisce about those times with fondness.

6. How would you describe those early days?

Modest. There was one office, fewer than 25 employees, and two coffee pots. There was also one of those big Britta water jugs – but Bill and I secretly filled it with tap water.

There was no TMXR department, no Supplier Partnerships team, no Global Consulting, no Learning & Development, no STAR portals. We were a small group of people who wore multiple hats, and the spirit was immense.

7. Describe working with Altair’s founders.

I had the privilege of working closely with Bill and Gail Plummer. Bill focused on new business and the checkbook, while Gail dedicated her efforts to operations. Together, they formed a dynamic duo.

8. How was your first trip to London to help AmeriCorp expand into international relocation, a year after you started?

I joined Gail Plummer, Jeannie James, and Conrad Bassett to head over to London in 1994 to explore the idea branching out to handle international moves – focused on the UK and Europe. We accomplished a lot in that jampacked week, learning as much as we could. Gail often reminds me how I wore my ill-fitting London Fog overcoat which was too tight (and I was slimmer then!). It splayed in the back and my arms were splayed backwards, too. It was time to buy a new coat and London was the perfect spot to buy a new, correctly sized London Fog coat!

9. You didn’t start in Client Services. What was your journey to get there?

I had ten years of relocation experience before joining Altair. I started at Equitable Relocation Management Corporation, as a Relocation Manager. Before that I was a real estate agent in Albuquerque, NM – when interest rates were 18%! It’s at Equitable where I met Bill Plummer, who was our “sales guy” in the Dallas office and that’s how this whole journey started. First I assumed the role of Director of Operations. As the business grew, then I shifted focus and moved into my role in Client Services in 1996 – which admittedly is my favorite part of the business – supporting the clients across our offices in both Connecticut and California.

10. Your passion and spirit for forming lifelong friendships is a hallmark of who you are.

I’ve experienced the joy of winning new clients, the low of losing a few clients, weddings, funerals, and other life events both small and large. I have loved working with our client partners.

11. Tell us about your involvement over the years with Worldwide ERC (WERC)?

Altair encouraged me to be involved in WERC which provided the opportunity to learn from other industry professionals, be a panelist, and work on various WERC committees and boards (CRP, GMS, BMA, Appraisal forums), which led to my induction in the WERC Hall of Leaders. I sincerely appreciate the honor of representing Altair over the years with WERC.

12. What other industry groups have you worked with?

In addition to WERC, I’ve had the privilege of working with Relocation Director’s Council (RDC) and Relocation Appraisers and Consultants (RAC).

13. How many WERC conferences have you attended?

Over the years? More than 60!

14. Can you name a favorite?

Many have been memorable. I would say the 2015 spring conference, when I was inducted into the Worldwide ERC Hall of Leaders. It was a true honor of recognition to the relocation industry. And of course, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Global Workforce Symposium coming up in Boston!

15. How has the global mobility industry evolved in the last 30 years?

The industry has morphed from a home-purchase-only industry, where the relocation management company (RMC) provided a conduit for a relocating employee to either sell their home on their own or receive a “buyout” from their employer. In the latter scenario, their home was “purchased” for a guaranteed purchase offer (GPO) amount, which allowed the employee to move from point A to point B with a firm offer in hand to rid themselves of the burden of selling their departure home.

The industry evolved to include the coordination of moving the household goods of the relocating employee, providing temporary living before a new home is found, destination services, and payments of allowances and other benefits tied to policies.

16. If you could magically enact any change for the industry, what would it be?

That’s a tough one… the ability to make every move for each person and their family to be completely stress-free.

The industry evolved to include the coordination of moving the household goods of the relocating employee, providing temporary living before a new home is found, destination services, and payments of allowances and other benefits tied to policies.

17. Top memories from being on the road?

My travels included the opportunity to see all 50 states in my career before and after joining the company. I also was traveling during world events – for example on 9/11 I was about to board an American Airlines flight from San Jose, CA back to Dallas, TX. I had been upgraded to 1st class and was in line to get on the plane, when we were told we needed to return to the waiting area. We soon learned of the tragedy from breaking news on the TVs and evacuated the airport. I ended up staying with friends in CA for a week until flights resumed.

The other event etched in my mind was the day I was leaving NY LaGuardia Airport about two hours before Sully Sullenberger landed in the Hudson River. Those two events will forever be etched in my mind.

18. How many miles have you racked up?

Over 2 million miles!

19. What airline are you loyal to?

American Airlines, always. My home airport of Dallas/Fort Worth International is their largest hub.

20. How many group moves have you completed?

Over 25! Ranging from small teams of less than 25 to massive endeavors involving more than 2,500 individuals.

21. If you could recommend someone to relocate anywhere in the United States, where would it be?

Of course, I’m biased, being from New Mexico, but In the U.S. I would always recommend Western, either New Mexico, Colorado, or northern California.

22. And what about internationally?

The Tuscany region of Italy – so beautiful.

23. When you’re not helping Altair clients, what can we find you doing?

Traveling for pleasure. I’m very fortunate that my husband, Walter Cole, loves to travel as much as I do and visit favorite places (Santa Fe, San Diego) and explore new places in both the U.S. and abroad.

24. What post-retirement trips have you planned?

We’ve got three trips already planned for 2024! To San Miguel Allende in Mexico, Portugal for a Duro River cruise, and Puglia, Italy!

25. What would you consider your biggest achievement in your career?

Developing lasting relationships with our clients – many of whom have become friends outside of Altair. Also, the opportunity given to me by Altair to be involved in Worldwide ERC, which provided an outlet to be very involved and honored as the 50th inductee into the Worldwide ERC Hall of Leaders in 2015.

26. And the biggest lesson learned?

If you do the job well, treat your clients as true business partners, and work in lockstep, we can both be successful. It’s important to enjoy what we do on a daily basis, work hard, and have fun, too!

27. What advice would you give someone just starting out in global mobility?

Get involved. At the company level learn as much as you can from your colleagues, no matter what department they represent, as we’re in this together. Get involved in both regional and national relocation organizations. Our business is everchanging, exciting, and provides a great view of the world of business and how we can make a difference in the lives of those we serve, from client intern populations all the way up to the C-suite. We are dealing one of the most stressful times in the lives of every customer and their family, as they move from point A to point B.

28. What advice would you give someone entering client services?

Client Services is a great role within the mobility space. The role is multifaceted, which requires having a good understanding of the big picture to be able to support the needs of our client contacts in HR (both new to their roles and experienced) for success.

29. What will you miss the most about Altair?

That’s a hard question! Remember, I’ve worked with some people in our office for 30 years. I will miss the camaraderie and my colleagues listening to my stories of both professional and personal nature. I bet they say, “…oh brother, did you hear the latest story Rob had to tell about such and such?”

30. What plans do you have in retirement?

After 40 years, I will be moving from Dallas, TX to Albuquerque, NM. I grew up in NM and enjoy the beauty of the American Southwest; the climate offers four seasons and majestic vistas. We have purchased a home in Albuquerque, nestled at the base of the Sandia mountains. Initially, we will be starting a remodel project, which is slated to take about four months. That being said, we all know projects like this take longer and cost more than anticipated. Additionally, I look forward to doing some contract work, volunteering at one of the local museums, more travel, and the next chapter of life.

In an era where career longevity is a rarity, Rob’s three-decade journey with Altair stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment. His legacy is etched not only in the company’s history but also in the hearts of those who have had the privilege of working alongside him.

“Rob’s remarkable journey at Altair Global serves as an inspiration to us all. His passion, dedication, and contributions have been instrumental in shaping Altair’s past and will undoubtedly influence its future. We extend our heartfelt gratitude and wish him a retirement filled with joy, relaxation, and new adventures.”

— Chad Sterling, Chief Executive Officer at Altair Global

Thank you, Rob, for 30 years of excellence and camaraderie. Your legacy lives on at Altair Global.

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Published On: October 5, 2023

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