Terri Thompson compares the responsibilities of managing a shopping center to those of being a mayor.
“You had your own little city, which was your people in the mall, you had your customers, you had your tenants and you had your employees; you had all three different aspects,” she said.
Mrs. Thompson managed malls and shopping centers for almost 30 years and plans to use that experience in her new position as director of property management at Wolford Development Inc.
The position is not only new for Mrs. Thompson, who relocated from Columbia, S.C. in January, but also just created at Chattanooga-based Wolford Development.
The company is headed by Bucky Wolford, who started it in 1999. Since then the company has grown from a small, lean operation to one that plans to add more than 30 employees over the next three to five years. Wolford Development moved its headquarters into the newly constructed Brabson Place downtown late in 2007.
Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover-- Terri Thompson oversees malls such as Towne Center North.
In the past several years the company has completed two shopping centers in Chattanooga — Oak Park Town Center and Towne Center North — both on Highway 153. Wolford Development is working on large-scale shopping center projects in Iowa, Montana and Arizona.
“She’s been here for several weeks now and I have been very impressed with her,” Mr. Wolford said of Mrs. Thompson. “She really knows the management aspect of the business and knows how to handle it.”
* Name: Terri Thompson
* Age: 48
* Personal: She and her husband, Robert, have two daughters, Jennifer and Jessica
* Professional: 27 years of experience in shopping center management
* Interesting fact: Started college as a fashion merchandising major
Mrs. Thompson will manage all of the company’s five completed centers plus those under development. Until Mrs. Thompson started, the company had relied on third parties to manage its shopping centers. Because of the company’s growth, the property management was brought in house.
She said stepping into the position and building the property management department presents a unique opportunity for her.
“It’s exciting because it’s an opportunity to look at the over 27 years of experience I have in property management to set it up the way I feel it should be set up, the proper way,” she said. “You are not having to go in and look at the way it is being done and change it, you are starting it from scratch.”
Mrs. Thompson originally is from Michigan, but spent the last seven years in South Carolina working for Edens & Avant, where she was responsible for 111 centers. She holds a business administration degree from Columbia College.
From the time she graduated from college, Mrs. Thompson has worked in shopping center management, and she liked it from the very beginning.
“It’s not sitting behind a desk and just doing work, it was a lot of interaction with people, you did shopping center management, but you did marketing,” she said. “I like doing both and you weren’t sitting behind a desk eight hours a day shuffling paperwork. It was a lot about relationships among those tenants.”