News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Schmelz, External Relations & Alumni Development
Phone: 608.822.2379
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: February 21, 2019

Southwest Tech alum earns Customer Service Employee of Year Award at Wilderness Resort

Fennimore -

Justin Johnson, a 2009 Golf Course Management alumnus and Customer Service Employee of the Year Award recipient by the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells, didn’t find Southwest Tech by accident.

Justin, a native of Lake Mills, said the college he was searching would need to have a golf-focused degree program with on-campus student housing that wasn’t dormitory style. Southwest Tech met those two important qualifications and led Justin to Fennimore.

“I definitely would not be where I am and doing what I’m doing without my start from Southwest Tech,” said Johnson.

Johnson said he learned important skills about golf course management from instructor Scott Kennedy. Johnson said Kennedy, along with Johnson’s mentor, taught him to read between the lines of job descriptions. He knew that the more skills and experience he could gain that would benefit his profession, the more valuable he would be to his employer.

After graduating from Southwest Tech, Johnson went to work at the Lake Mills Golf Club and started working on his bachelor’s degree from UW-Stout, as well as taking PGA courses. Johnson used his time off in the winter to get experience at a high-end clothing retailer as well as a nice restaurant to learn more about merchandising and food service. That experience was a huge benefit to the golf courses Johnson worked for.  “There were days at one job (in Eau Claire) where I could send everyone home if need be and send out golfers, tend bar and make food all on my own because of my experience and comfort level.”

Johnson has been working at the Wilderness Resort for three years. He is a first assistant golf professional at Wild Rock Golf Club and is also an accounting assistant at Wilderness Resort. In his position at the Wild Rock Golf Club, Johnson manages outside service staff, the golf shop, inventory, purchase orders, merchandising and displays. Johnson’s ability to adapt to additional positions and gain a range of skills is what led him to the accounting assistant position at the Wilderness during the off-season.

When asked how someone earns the Wilderness Customer Service Employee of the Year Award Johnson explained that employees are placed into the pool of candidates after receiving a written acknowledgement from a customer. Those employees are acknowledged in the all-staff newsletter and then directors of the different divisions in the resort choose who is selected to receive the “Guide of the Month.” From there a “Guide of the Quarter” is selected and then, at the end of the year, one employee from the division is awarded the Employee of the Year honor at the annual employee party, which was held on Jan. 16.

Not only has Johnson excelled in his professional life, he’s also taken the skills he learned at Southwest Tech and used them for charitable purposes. Justin’s brother, Todd, passed away in 2005, leaving a wife and two children behind. Justin recalls saying a prayer one night while he was in school that he could find a way to help honor his brother with the new skills he had learned. Literally, the next day a friend called and said they were thinking of doing a fundraiser, maybe a golf outing and asked for Justin’s help. They have since created a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation, have a board of seven directors and Justin serves as president. The mission of the Todd Johnson Foundation is to remember Todd’s legacy through Christian education scholarships as well as address autism needs.

To learn more about the Southwest Tech Golf Course Management Program, contact advisor Kyle Bennett at 608.822.2625 ( or Scott Kennedy at 608.822.2437(

Posted in Alumni