The child of missionaries, Johnson was born in Brazil and lived there most of the time until he was 14.
“I speak Portuguese fluently and can fake a pretty good Spanish,” said Johnson, who started at Intrust Bank Arena last month.
Despite his time abroad, he considered Peoria, Ill., home because that’s where his mother and grandparents were from.
Johnson, 38, graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with a degree in communications. He intended to go into radio broadcasting, but finding that field difficult to break into, he returned to a hotel job that he’d held in college. He spent eight years working for hotels, rising into management before moving to Peoria and going to work as assistant operations manager at the Peoria Civic Center in 2007.
“It’s a larger complex, but the arena seats less people than the arena here does,” he said. “We had a lot more events, but they were smaller events.”
Both facilities are managed by SMG.
Johnson’s duties at the arena include supervising ice installation and removal, events set-up and conversion, building and grounds maintenance and management of the operations crew. He’s familiar with ice work from preparing a rink for the Peoria Rivermen, an American Hockey League team affiliated with the St. Louis Blues.
Johnson said his job requires a “high time commitment” during much of the year, but in his free time, he enjoys playing sports such as softball, basketball, soccer and golf.
“I try to stay active, but it seems like every year I play more golf – more of the easy stuff and less of the running stuff.”