Lois Croft, FRLA Southwest Florida Regional Director
TAKING RISKS TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
Lois Croft, FRLA Southwest Florida Regional Director, always knew she wanted to move some place warm. Growing up in Minnesota with harsh winters will do that to you, she says. Lois was raised with 15 brothers and sisters on a farm in a small town in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. While she respects the work required on a family farm, she knew she wanted something different in her life.
To make that happen, Lois worked hard, was resourceful, and became the first of her siblings to attend college. Through a scholarship and getting a job in the intramural department of St. Cloud State University, she developed a love for coaching. She then spent 23 years working for school districts in the Community Education Department and coaching volleyball, basketball, and track.
When a Recession hit in 2010, and with temperatures getting colder, she longed for the Sunshine and a new start, so she sold everything she owned and moved with her son to Florida. Across South Florida, she got very involved with events, helping with restaurant openings, charity fundraisers, and more. Eventually she found her way to RCS, a subsidiary of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and the leading provider for risk management and regulatory compliance training programs to Florida’s hospitality industry. Training was a great fit for someone with 23 years of teaching and an educational background, and she found she really loved the work. Eventually, she changed positions, though, taking on new challenges and opportunities as FRLA Regional Director for Palm Beach County and now as FRLA Southwest Florida Regional Director, where she is been since 2014.
Lois loves serving her members across Charlotte, Lee, and Collier Counties where she organizes fundraisers and events to support local hospitality high schools and colleges along with advocacy work for her members.
When asked how women positively impact Florida’s hospitality industry, Lois noted how nice it is to have a rich diverseness in business to ensure different perspectives are not just represented but respected as well. She is encouraged to see more female leaders and owners/operators across hotels, restaurants, and suppliers.
It’s no surprise that qualities she values include being a self-starter, a go-getter, fearless, and ambitious considering the risks she took to relocate. Selling everything and moving 1,500 miles a way to start over in a new place and a new industry takes guts and someone who isn’t afraid of taking chances.
Lois believes that Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to showcase so many excellent women who have succeeded in their various paths, and she feels that it is important for that recognition to continue. Recognizing women in leadership roles, for instance, is critical because so many women have worked hard to achieve and progress. Ensuring that they are compensated and respected helps result in our collective representations and equality.
To continue that legacy on, women must also support each other. When asked what advice she would give to women coming up in hospitality, without missing a beat, she declared, “Stay true to yourself. Whatever your goals and ambitions are – go for them. Don’t feel that you can’t achieve whatever you want. If you work hard and take risks, you can make it happen.”
Closing Question: Is there a woman from history or your past that you admire and why?
“My mom. As a full time, mom and farmer, she basically ran a company without ever receiving a paycheck. She raised 16 kids, managed the finances for the home and farm businesses, cooked, cleaned, made sure we did all of our chores, and more. Despite all of her work, she still made time for life and fun too. My mom and dad played in an old-time band with polka and waltz type music. They played at most of the weddings and other celebrations around town. She taught me to follow my dreams and see my efforts through – to never give up. And I haven’t yet!”