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Q&A: Wellness center manager sits down with PJ

On Monday April 7, Eric Robb will become the manager of the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center.

Until his permanent office is ready, he'll work at the city administrative center. According to the official job description, Robb will be "responsible for planning, managing, maintaining and monitoring all activities" at the $12.4 million facility, which is on track to open in the fall.

Robb, 43, comes to Wadena from Ada, where he works as a paraprofessional, coach and weight room supervisor at the school. He's a married father of two boys.

Robb stopped by the city offices Monday morning and took some time to chat with the Pioneer Journal.

Pioneer Journal: In the past, you've worked for similar facilities. How has your education and experience prepared you for this new job?

Robb: Well my degree is from the University of North Dakota in recreation administration. From there I started working in my hometown of Roseau back in 2000. I was there for four years, worked as the recreation manager, operated the hockey rinks and in the summer the parks. Then I moved to Ada, worked there for seven years as manager of the DEKKO community center. There I did everything: operations management, supervised employees, and that type of work.

PJ: One of the things (the council) talked about is that you were able to improve the budget situation at the Ada community center. How did you make sure the facility had a favorable fiscal picture?

Robb: One thing you have to look at is the best options whether it be vending as far as chemicals you're using for the pools, whether it be reduced costs utility-wise, looking at staffing to get the best bang for your buck and then really maximizing the utilization of the facility to its full potential - increasing usage.

PJ: What's your vision for the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center?

Robb: I'll be honest with you. I'm new and still learning. I have much to learn. But ultimately the vision I have is getting the max use out of it from all segments of the population, from youth to the elderly. Whatever type of activities we can get in there, we'll get in there.

PJ: What are you going to be doing in the next few months to prepare for the opening?

Robb: First of all learning about the origins of how this community center came about, learning the city's workings, getting out and meeting people in the community and meeting with businesses and taking what I learn about the Maslowski Center into the community.

PJ: It's more than just a workout facility, the city also wants to also have events. How are you going to help make sure that it's more than just a place where people swim and work out but also have other events?

Robb: We'll just have to look at every possible option and meet with various groups and try to increase the usage to get events in there.

PJ: Wadena is an economically challenged area. Some people are concerned about the rates being low enough to be able to join the facility. I'm not sure how Roseau or Ada was, but what are some of the things you did to make sure those facilities were affordable for people?

Robb: I would consider the county of Norman County and Ada to be very similar to here. You really need to review your rate structure to see what would be best for the community. There's a lot of different options and I'll have to take a look at it once I get going.

PJ: Anything else that you'd like to add?

Robb: I'm just looking forward to beginning work in the community of Wadena and the surrounding areas. I have been through here many times. I like Wadena. Wadena is a great community and I'm just looking forward to getting started with the Maslowski Center.