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Bettendorf native helps families come home to the Quad-Cities
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Deb Boland is the director of relocation, corporate marketing for Mel Foster Co. Her division and Mel Foster Realtors help relocating employees with Deere & Co. and other corporations find homes.
DAVENPORT -- When you take your phone and laptop on vacation and don't mind answering calls or e-mails, then your job is much more than a job to you.

So is the belief and practice of Deb Boland, the director of relocation, corporate marketing with Mel Foster Co.

In her position, she is an active part of progress and growth.

Ms. Boland is involved in community organizations and works with community leaders to learn more about current and new activities and amenities in the Quad-Cities.

She then uses that information to help relocate families and employees for companies such as Deere & Co., and to help them realize the Quad-Cities is a great place to call home.

"I am a big supporter of the Quad-Cities," she said. "We travel for Mel Foster Company to state and national conventions, and when you talk about the Quad-Cities area, people think it is just cornfields. When families call, they are not sure they want to come. Then we take them on a tour. After the tour is done, they are ready to move here. The Quad-Cities has so much to offer that people just don't realize," Ms. Boland said.

She is a Quad-Cities native, raised on a family dairy farm on Middle Road in Bettendorf. While growing up, she was surrounded by farms. It was a community where everyone watched out for everyone else, Ms. Boland said. They learned respect and how to care for each other early on.

Those are lessons she still uses today, keys to her success in assisting relocating families.

"We work with many families relocating into the area, and sometimes it is quite sad. They are leaving their grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles. Children especially feel kids here aren't like them. It is a very difficult time for that family. We want to assure them what they are experiencing is normal, and if, at the end of the day, we can help a family feel special, glad they came, we have done our job. You have to care," Ms. Boland said.

She began working at Mel Foster in 1994 as a personal assistant for an agent. Ms. Boland did so for four years, then was asked if she wanted to work in the relocation division. She made the change and through the years worked up the ranks to her position.

Her days begin at about 8:30 a.m. and end after the last phone call or request for information is satisfied, which can be as late at 8:30 p.m. Working weekends is not uncommon.

Ms. Boland said the hours don't bother her.

"My day is never the same. Every day is different," she said. "I have no desire to go anywhere else. I love what I do."

She makes sure the Mel Foster Realtors are trained properly to work with the relocating families.

"We assign an agent to make sure the family's needs are taken care of. I also act as a buffer to make sure if there is a question or concern it is addressed. My division gives a lot of community tours and gets the agents set up, making sure they know where they are going, and get relocation kits handed out," Ms. Boland said.

"Whatever the families' needs are, we are there to make sure those needs are met. It can be home-buying, rentals or whatever the need is when they come to the Quad-City area," she said.

Ms. Boland always makes sure she is the first point of contact for the relocating family or employee. She likes to find out their initial worries or skepticism and identify the best way she and the company can help.

"You can sense it in their voice, and I want to hear what their concerns are," she said, adding that then the team can be sure to take extra steps to address those concerns. "We want them to feel at home before they even arrive here. I think that helps because then the spouse who is relocated can focus on their new job, which will make the employer happy because the employee is happy."

She's said she's learned through her career that the Quad-Cities is a wonderful place to live.

"We have a good quality of life. It is a great place to raise a family, we have great schools and two excellent medical facilities," she said, adding that the area is home to many major worldwide corporations like Deere & Co.

"Those companies help a lot in the area's growth," she said.

Ms. Boland said many people -- including young couples -- are realizing what she has realized about the Quad-Cities being a great place to live. She often is contacted by Deere & Co. employees who grew up in the Quad-Cities and were transferred to another state or country, who happily say they are coming back.

"They call and say, 'I am coming home'," Ms. Boland said. "The Quad-Cities truly has a lot to offer. People who are leaving are realizing everything they need was here and are coming back."

Her goal for the future is to expand the award-winning relocation division and for it to continue to meet the needs of every client and relocating family.

"We just want to make sure they are happy, that there is no stress," Ms. Boland said.

"When I go on vacation, my computer and cell phone go with me. You never know when there could be a family that needs something. To them, it could be a crisis, and I want to help," she said. "I truly care."

Local events heading

  Today is Sunday, April 20, the 110th day of 2014. There are 255 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The attention of contractors is called to proposals for building a magazine. The building is to be erected on the south side of the island, above the railroad, nearly opposite Sinnit's ice houses.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Ladies patent leather tip shoes were selling for $3 at the M & K store, and men's spring overcoats were advertised at $7.50.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Fred Feuchter, of Davenport, was elected president of the Tri-City Post Office Clerks club, and Joe Goldsmith, of Rock Island, was named secretary treasurer.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Mass vaccination of more than 1,600 employed of the Rock Island Arsenal has been ordered by Col. Norman Ramsey after a 13-year-old daughter of the Arsenal manager became ill with smallpox.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The 1964 Scout-O-Rama of the Sac-Fox Council of Boy Scouts closed a two-day session last evening at the Rock Island Armory with 5,000 paid attendance.
1989 -- 25 years ago: "From the horse and buggy days ... to this" said Mercer County Sheriff Marvin Thirtyacre, waving his hand to indicate the sheriff's department facilities at the new $1.5 million Mercer County Jail in Aledo.

(More History)