Our Story – A Look Back at 10 Years of HR Annie
by Cindy Free
My mom, Annie Reed, worked for Mt. Bachelor ski resort my entire childhood. As a single woman working at a ski resort in the 80’s and 90’s that meant toting me up and down from the mountain on weekends and holidays. It was a 28-mile drive that might have taken anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the weather. Mom and I had a lot of conversations about people on those drives. She is a self-proclaimed ‘people-ist’ and this is so evident in the many, many lives she’s impacted.
Most of the time we’d get to the mountain and I’d boot up and hit the slopes. But if the weather was bad, or I got bored and annoyed her too often in her office, or if it was super busy…I got put to work. Yes, child-labor, from an HR mom!
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Over the years, I found myself working in too many Mt. Bachelor departments and roles to count. Including HR and Training after Annie left the company and started her own HR consulting firm, Jan Baker Facilitates, with her business partner and friend, Jan.
In 2010, Annie sold the firm and relocated to the Portland area to join her children and grandchildren. That’s when she founded HR Annie Consulting was as way to ease into retirement. Her goal: retire at the pace she wants, doings something she loves.
Anyone who knows Annie, knows that she’s a small, straight-forward, direct, ball of equal parts wisdom, intelligence and wit. Combined with her HR background these traits helped her launch a very small retirement business—fostered by relationships she built with the past clients, and those she developed mostly through the Beaverton Chamber of Commerce, initially.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for her little retirement business to get busy and she had to bring on help to manage the workload if she ever wanted to take time off. At that time, I had the ability to jump in and tend to the HR Annie clients so Annie could go on a vacation without disrupting service to clients. She and I quickly realized we could take this business to the next level by working together—she could retire at the pace she wanted, and I could grow and manage this amazing company.
One of the best and first major business decisions Annie and I made was in 2014, hiring a business strategy facilitator—Karen O’Keefe. She helped us with all the major components of strategic planning, including a 10-year outlook. I remember thinking how 10-years seemed so far away—2024!
Over the past 7 years we have been blessed with a small handful of talented and mighty HR professionals, business colleagues and partner resources that helped us reach our lofty goals. We were lucky to see a lot of success and even more lucky to experience the kind of challenges that helped us realize how strong and resilient we can be when we work together.
In 2016 I purchased HR Annie from my mother. This was the year Annie was planning to officially retire! As any child of a family business owner would know, she found it a lot harder to walk away than she had imagined.
So, we continued on together and in 2019 we were humbly surprised to realize that we had met our 2024 financial goals five years early! A success that I attribute to Annie, the team (past and present), our amazing and loyal clients. We celebrated our successes and then got to work on a new 10-year plan, including a track to retirement for Annie (for real this time).
We’ve worked hard over the last year to continue defining who and what it takes to be successful working for a company that is so customized, tailored, and adaptable for the clients we are lucky enough to work with and for. We have launched a more in-depth catalog of trainings, including our love language—Manager Development, through our HR Annie Manager CrashCourse. We have refined our recruitment and other processes to be able to support our clients with an intentional focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, so they may foster a most respectful culture, where employees are happy.
Our one non-negotiable: We only work with people who want to take good care of their employees. This last September, a monumental event happened for our little HR company. Annie, my mom, our founder, our mentor, RETIRED! And she did it at the pace she wanted, doing what she loved.
I cannot thank my mom enough for the opportunity to continue growing this company and upholding her legacy of kindness and unparalleled support to the community. (Yes, tears are running down my cheeks). She has been the ultimate example of hard work—driving up the mountain, helping so many people, involved in her communities on boards and through volunteerism. She has literally worked her A$$ off and still has more energy than anyone I know or have ever met. There isn’t anyone who she hasn’t made a meaningful impact on through her life; especially me, I think.
Mom, congratulations and thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Team HR Annie