Texas State Aquarium’s success, growth tightly linked to Tom Schmid

Tom Schmid, Texas State Aquarium’s CEO, had no idea he was going to be taking on a new adventure in Columbus, Ohio when he bought a new house in Corpus Christi nine months ago. 

Schmid, 58, is starting the next chapter of his life Dec. 6 when he will take on his new position as the president of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio, the largest zoo in the United States. 

Schmid looked into the position after a recruitment firm reached out to him.

“I was not looking to move,” he said. “It’s about $100 million-a-year operation. It’s a really big enterprise. And so the scale of that was intriguing to me, particularly the aspect of the of the wilds, which is their their Conservation Center. I just think there’s going to be tremendous opportunities out there in the future.”

President and CEO Tom Schmid walks through jungle habitat in the Caribbean Journey wing Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, before the Texas State Aquarium reopens after Hurricane Harvey.

In the beginning 

Schmid was recruited to work at the Texas State Aquarium more than 25 years ago when he worked at the National Maritime Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

The aquarium was only a 44,000-square-foot building and attracted about 390,000 visitors a year back in 1996. Schmid started out as director of animal husbandry and was appointed as CEO roughly three years later. 

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