When a guest arrives at Cherokee Casino & Hotel West Siloam Springs, Zachary Alves and his valet services team kick into high gear with a smile. First impressions are everything.

“I want to give every guest the best experience from the moment they arrive. I learned that at Cherokee Nation Entertainment,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the guests, we wouldn’t be here.”

A Cherokee Nation citizen, Alves previously remodeled stores around the country for a huge corporation. When he began with CNE in 2011, he put down roots as he climbed from valet attendant to supervisor of valet services. He and his wife live in Westville, Oklahoma, with their two sons.

“Because my work commute is only 17 miles, I’m able to get home before dark and spend time with my family. We’re able to sit at the table for dinner,” he said. “I don’t miss out on much of their lives.”

Alves said his CNE experience has changed him.

“My work helped me overcome my fear of being in the public eye and public speaking,” he said. “I used to want to stay in the back, learning and working, but unseen. Now, I have more confidence.”

With plans to finish his college degree, Alves credits many people with helping him, but CNE provided the environment to make him the driven employee he’s become.

“I am a different person. Working for a company you like and want to know better changes your thinking.”

Each year, CNE reinvests 65 percent of its gaming profits into job creation for Cherokee Nation citizens. In 2018, that investment was more than $85.1 million.