Longtime City of Columbus employees Shawn and Tommie Riedmiller always hoped to earn promotions, they just didn’t anticipate they would come at almost the same time and end up working so closely together.
In March, Shawn was promoted to City golf course superintendent after predecessor Keith Kline announced his retirement. In April, one of his sons, Tommie, was promoted to cemetery supervisor after Steve Wortman announced he was retiring. The father and son had previously been in roles within those City departments already when the opportunities presented themselves.
“We both kind of saw it coming. We had hoped it would happen this way where we both eventually got promoted, but the timing of both guys retiring at about the same time was not something we anticipated,’ Shawn said, noting interviewing for the superintendent role was nerve-racking to an extent. “It’s really cool it happened that way.”
The two have distinctively different roles but actually share an office space together out at Quail Run Golf Course. Even though there are oftentimes they’re not in that office at the same time, there are advantages when those moments present themselves.
“It’s really cool to bounce ideas off each other and collaborate even though we’re not in the same department,” Tommie said. “It’s still all part of the same umbrella. He really has and continues to be my go-to man for things.”
Shawn has more specific things he can point to as far as needing help from Tommie.
“If I have trouble with a computer, it’s nice to have someone from the younger generation helping me out,” he joked.
The elder Riedmiller is responsible for overseeing the maintenance at Quail Run and Van Berg golf courses, as well as working with a crew to accomplish various tasks, among other things. The younger Riedmiller oversees Columbus and Roselawn cemeteries. The work includes managing a small number of part-time employees on groundskeeping, using heavy equipment to dig and open graves, as well as selling cemetery plots.
City Public Property Director Doug Moore said they both have their own unique leadership styles, but that each is an asset to the City and community in their own right.
“They are both doing an excellent job,” Moore said. “Shawn has more of an old-school approach to turf management and Tommie is solid with the technical end, so they work well together to solve issues.”
Tommie, who is the second oldest of Shawn’s six children (four sons and two daughters), said he can’t help but be influenced by his father’s work ethic.
“Seeing the way he works, his ambition out here and how much he loves working inspires me to love what I do more,” Tommie said. “I just feel like I get to be a proud dad too, as silly as that sounds. It’s super cool that he gets to do what he has wanted to do his entire life. I’m super proud of him.
Shawn is equally proud of his son, noting how Tommie got his Pesticide Applicators License through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture on his first attempt.
Admittedly, the two keep things professional at work. Tommie calls his dad by his first name while on the job because they agreed it would be weird to call him “Dad” in a workplace setting around others.
“But we really don’t take anything too seriously, except for when we need to,” Tommie said.
There are a lot of benefits to a father and son working together, they noted. There are also some unintended perks for the son.
“He’ll come over so we can talk and he raids our refrigerator during lunch,” Shawn said. “We call it a supervisors meeting.”
Tommie quickly admitted he’ll take some of his dad’s favorite cookies, but Shawn only pretended to take offense.
“I didn’t know he was going to take all of my snacks,” Shawn said, with both of them beginning to laugh. “But that’s OK.”
(ABOUT THE PHOTO: Tommie, left, and Shawn Riedmiller in their office at Quail Run Golf Course.)