18:40 PM

Frontline Faces: Kim Holden, Wendy's

As you approach the Wendy’s counter at Tampa International Airport, you see the smile on Kim Holden’s face and feel welcome before she ever says hello. Even a face mask can’t hide her cheery personality.

And while Kim says that she loves working at Wendy’s, she says there’s something special about working at TPA, where she’s been for nearly three years.

When asked why the location matters, she simply replies, “I love working here.”

Kim explained that for her it’s all about the customers, her customers, who make up the best part of her day.

“Every day I meet new people and win them with my personality right off,” she laughed. “They tell me about where they’re going and why their traveling.”

Kim said that in addition to meeting new people, she has come to know many of the airport’s more than 10,000 employees and takes a lot of pride in treating them as valued customers as well.

“I have my regular customers,” she said. “It makes them smile when I remember their name, and they really love it when I remember their order. It makes them feel special and it makes me so happy knowing that I made someone’s day.”

For many, it’s a lasting impression.

“I’ve had many of the regular customers, pilots, TSA and others, come by when they are with their families or friends and introduce me because they’ve told them about me and I’ve heard a lot about them,” she said. “When you’re friendly, people open up. It’s really special.”

It’s a refreshing reprieve from her day-to-day home life, which she described as “not always the best.”

Kim has faced personal challenges in her life, she said, which includes raising a rambunctious four-year-old nephew with her sister. Kim lives on the outskirts of Hillsborough County and catches a bus two hours before the start of her shift. She said she enjoys working at the airport “that much.”

“When my home life is chaos, I look forward to my time at the Airport,” she says. “The time with my coworkers, my boss Mary Lou and my customers … that makes me so happy. I don’t know a lot of people who can say that about their job.”

Kim has been recognized by the Airport for her outstanding customer service which she said has been part of her work ethic from the beginning.

“I’ve worked at other restaurants, a local casino and in door-to-door sales at a time when it was so hard to do, but I was successful,” she said. “I can sell anything.”

She smiles when she reveals that other concessionaires have even tried to “steal her away.”

“They try, but I won’t leave,” she said with a smile. “I‘m happy here. They care about you. It’s like a family.”

When asked for one great reason she would give to someone who is thinking about working at TPA, she laughs and says, “It’s the customers. And it’s not one, it’s a million, and they’re all great.”

Tampa International Airport is currently hiring for multiple positions, including in the shops, restaurants, spas and rental cars. A list of openings, locations and pay ranges can be found on the airport website.