Born in Nova Scotia and raised on the road as the daughter of a Canadian military family, Kim Bedier has come progressively west and then south to settle in Tacoma as the city’s public facilities assembly director.
Which means she has direct control of what goes on at the Tacoma Dome and the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, plus having purview over Cheney Stadium and city properties in the downtown Theater District, which are managed by other entities.
Hired last fall and on the job since November, Bedier spoke with The News Tribune shortly after the New Year began.
How did you come to a career in facilities management?
I fell into it very early. I was a lifeguard at swimming pools, and most pools are connected to ice rinks. I managed an ice rink in Grande Prairie, Alberta. That was my first real venue. Then I went to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as director of security. Then Comcast Arena in Everett from 2003 to 2012.
What kind of influences did you have growing up?
Part of what made me who I am is that I went to a lot of different schools. I lived in Europe. My father was in the military, at the embassy. And I went back and forth across Canada.
You were in Everett for nearly 10 years. Why did you want to come to Tacoma?
Originally I’m not sure I did. A search company called me. The more I saw, the more I liked the idea. It’s the next career step for me. I knew a lot of the people already – I teach human resources and diversity for the International Association of Venue Managers.
When I first came to Everett, my son was in the eighth grade. I really liked living on the coast. I love being able to see the mountains and the water.
And when you got to Tacoma, what did you think?
I think there exists a huge potential here, and I think I can make a difference. I met the city manager and I got the sense he was ready to do whatever it takes to make Tacoma a great place.
One of the things I also found when I was looking – Tacoma has a chip on its shoulder and the people don’t realize the gems they have.
I stayed at both the Murano and the Marriott. The service was second-to-none.
One of the first days I was here, I went to the fourth floor (of the convention center). I saw Mount Rainier, the Museum of Glass, Union Station, Tacoma Art Museum. That view epitomizes Tacoma. It made me even more excited to be here.
You are in charge of two major venues. Your impressions?
The Dome is iconic. We need to give the old lady the credit that’s due. We’re looking at the 30th anniversary. We may ask people for their memories. When you think of all the people that have come through the door, there are a lot of stories to be told.
And I always knew there was a convention center here – it’s one of the best-kept secrets Tacoma has.
Part of my job is to secure the capital funds necessary. I’m still learning what’s needed.
Did the convention center surprise you in any way?
I knew it already. They were my competition.
How do you see your job?
My job is the have the big picture for the two key facilities, to make sure the people have the resources they need. It’s my job to ensure the people there reach their full potential.
Also, with the LeMay Museum, the convention center and the LeMay should be working together, (for example) to get every auto-dealer association in the country to bring their meetings here.
The highway signage to Cheney Stadium needs work.
Overall, with people like me, we can remind people of why they live here. And it’s not because of the weather.
As far as funding goes, Tacoma is facing a deficit. How seriously will that affect your job?
Times are tough all over. We’re all being challenged. I knew what I was getting into.
There’s so much potential here. It may take someone from out of town to bring that different perception, to make sure we live up to our potential. Bennish (Brown, head of the Visitor and Convention Bureau) is a good example of that.
What are you planning to do right away?
The most immediate is the agreement between the convention center and the CVB to finalize the sales agreement. They will sell long-term clients, outside 18 months. We’ll sell the shorter term. The city will eliminate two sales positions at the convention center.
You’ve probably seen a lot of stars and celebrities during your career. Are you ever starstruck?
No. I’m probably a bit cynical.
Most of the country artists are really nice, like Carrie Underwood. She’ll meet her fans for hours before a performance. On the other side are the aging divas, the ones that don’t have time for their fans, the ones who hide in their dressing rooms.
I was excited to see Paul McCartney in Edmonton in November. I had no idea what a musician he was. I got to meet him backstage.
One personal favorite is Elton John.
You’ve been here nearly two months. Any buyer's remorse?
I have no reservations. This is going to be a great adventure.
C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535
Born: Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Family: Son Jonathan, 23.
Hobbies: Yoga, running. “I’m a little bit of a workaholic.”
Reading: “I just came back from Molokai. I did a lot of reading on Father Damien.”
What she misses from Canada: Coffee Crisp chocolate bars.