The Listening Tour

Huntersville Commissioner Danny Phillips and Bill Russell meet with Doug Kropelnicki with A-1 Vacuum Solutions regarding Sam Furr Improvements
Huntersville Commissioner Danny Phillips and Bill Russell meet with Doug Kropelnicki with A-1 Vacuum Solutions regarding Sam Furr Improvements

A few weeks ago I was asked by Aaron Burns, a reporter for Lake Norman Publications, what sorts of skills are necessary to be a good Chamber President?  At first, my immediate response was the thought you needed to be able “bob and weave.”  Like the prize fighter, the blows come fast and furious and instinct takes over.

Businesses look to the chamber for a myriad of resources.  In times of plenty, it may be a chance to expand their contact base, building referrals and customers or sometimes just giving back to the community.  When times are challenging, such as they have been since 2007, businesses look to the chamber almost like an emergency room.

Local businesses look for programs and advice to help them market, staffing solutions, and financing through the tough times.  Chamber executives may not have the answers to complex operation problems, but we must be able to draw from resources that might be unavailable or simply not knowledgeable to the business owner or manager.

The ability to think quick, build cohesive partnerships, and support your business member is critical to the chamber executive. That said, perhaps no single skill is more important than communication. It goes without saying that boards look for a strong executive who can communicate the message of the chamber – whether speaking to groups, in front of the camera, or with a pen.

However, the Good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason and perhaps the most difficult skill to master – but the most important to implement – is the ability to listen!

Over the last few months I have had the privilege of meeting with many of our members.  Cornelius Commissioner John Bradford and Huntersville Commissioner Danny Phillips and I have made impromptu calls on many of our local businesses.

We have stopped in on retail businesses, healthcare agencies, restaurants, and attorneys.  We’ve called on businesses that have been challenged by signage constraints to those dealing transportation issues. Some have seen great improvement over 2011 while some are still just getting by.

Recently we’ve added Don Harrow, our new Cornelius EDC Director, to the calls in Cornelius and soon my visits will expand into Davidson.  The Chamber’s specific goal is to hear from as many of our existing members, as well as businesses who are not involved in our chamber family, how we can work better as a business association and make recommendations to our towns, which can make us a more viable business community.

As we enter this new year and with it many new opportunities, I am reminded of the words of former President Ronald Reagan from his second Inaugural Address (January 21, 1985).  Reagan said, “My friends, we live in a world that’s lit by lightning.  So much of it is changing and will change, but so much endures and transcends time.”

The introduction of social media has changed how we as chamber executives communicate with our members.  The Internet, much like lightning itself, has profoundly impacted our businesses and how we promote, represent, and serve you the member.

One thing that has not changed is listening to you and how we can best serve your business needs.  With it – our commitment to allow our words to speak boldly of our intentions and our actions to speak louder than the words.  Our commitment that will endure and transcend time.


Chamber Celebrates 25th Year of Service to Lake Norman Regional Business Community

Annual Banquet & Meeting: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at Havana Banquet & Ballroom

Bobby Cashion and 2011 Chamber Chairman Robert Reed present John Bradford of Park Avenue Properties, LLC (center) with the 2011 Robert T. Cashion Business Person of the Year.
Bobby Cashion and 2011 Chamber Chairman Robert Reed present John Bradford of Park Avenue Properties, LLC (center) with the 2011 Robert T. Cashion Business Person of the Year.

On Thursday, January 24th at 6:30 p.m. Chamber officers and members will gather at the Havana Banquet & Ballroom 8325 Copley Drive in Cornelius to celebrate this past year of accomplishment and reward key individuals who set the benchmark in our region at the Lake Norman Chamber Annual Awards Gala.  The prestigious Cashion Business Person of the Year will once again be bestowed upon a deserving individual in the region. In addition, the Duke Power Citizenship and Service Award will be presented to an individual, group, or business.  The purpose of the award is to recognize and reward leadership and/or involvement in volunteerism and community service.

Chamber Chairman Jack Salzman will give a brief recap of 2012 highlights before handing the reigns of leadership over to incoming Chamber Chairman Wendy Moran.

Chamber President Bill Russell stated that since the Chamber of Commerce was celebrating Twenty-Five years, the organizing committee felt something unique and memorable should take place in lieu of the typical dinner speaker. “This year we will have three dynamic community leaders who will share how the Chamber “Grows local business, serves as a relentless advocate for business, and touches lives.”

Current Board Chairman Jack Salzman, owner of Lake Norman Chrysler

Chamber President Bill Russell with newly elected NC Senator Jeff Tarte
Chamber President Bill Russell with newly elected NC Senator Jeff Tarte

Jeep Dodge Ram, has focused on the creation of a new website for the Chamber to enhance the organization’s ability to promote the membership as well as make it easier for members to access information regarding programming and member benefits online.  Salzman also introduced a new business development program called the “Competitive Edge”, held in November, and which will debut this month on the Chamber’s website.

Wendy Moran is a Vice President and Business Center Manager for Peoples Bank in Denver, North Carolina.   Moran’s banking career spans 20 years and a myriad of titles.  But her passion for working directly with clients, developing market share and her community involvement made her the unanimous choice as the 2013 Board Chairman for the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.  The Black Tie optional event is presented by the Lake Norman Citizen; Gold Sponsors include Duke Energy Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville and Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram; and Silver Sponsors are The McIntosh Law Firm, Ice by Premo, n2 Publishing, Business Today and Regions Bank. The 2013 Bronze sponsors are Bentz & Associates and CommunityOne Bank.  Sponsorships are still available and the cost per person is $65. To make a reservation or inquire about sponsorships call Brett Zabek at 704-892-1922.

Lake Norman Chamber President’s January 4, 2013 e-Brief Newsletter

Russell colorChamber Members and Stakeholder:

Chamber U: A New Small Business Training Program this Tuesday –  Jan 8th 3:30 – 5:00 pm at the Marion Board Room

The Chamber is pleased to announce a new small business development program called “Chamber U.” This 90-minute program held the second Tuesday of each month from 3:30-5:00 p.m. will focus on the operations of a small business including finance, staffing, marketing, and sales. The Chamber will partner with SCORE, the Small Business Administration, Department of Commerce, and our educational partners such as Central Piedmont Community College and Pfeiffer University.

The first program will be held Tuesday, January 8th at the Lake Norman Chamber Randy Marion Conference Room and will be facilitated by SCORE. The Topic is: Developing and Growing your Business: An introduction to SCORE with SCORE counselors John Kurti and Nancy Ridenhour. Don’t miss this exciting event!

Chamber Seeking Nominations for Business Person & Duke Power Citizenship Awards

The Chamber seeks your help in identifying two outstanding individuals in our region. Each year, the Chamber selects a Business Person of the Year. In addition to our Business Person of the Year, we will also present the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award. Both of these awards will be presented at our Annual Banquet Thursday, January 24, 2013. If you know of individuals who should be considered, please email Bill Russell at with an explanation of why they should be considered. The Business Person must be a member of the Chamber. The Citizenship Award does not have to be affiliated with the Chamber and can be a person, group or business. The award will be presented at the Annual Meeting January 24th.

25th Annual awards Gala set for Thursday, January 24th 6:30 PM  –  Havana Banquet & Ball Room

The Chamber will celebrate 25 years of service to the Lake Norman business community Thursday, January 24th at 6:30 pm at the Havana Banquet & Ball Room in Cornelius. Cost per person is $65 and you can RSVP to Jack Stevens at 704-892-1922. Don’t miss this exciting event as we celebrate 25 years of making an impact in the Lake Norman region! For more information, visit the Chamber website.

Transportation Summit set For January 17th

The Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission is hosting a summit on January 17, 2013. The summit, Transportation & Land Use: Impacts of Growth on the Lake Norman Region, takes place at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in Mooresville at 1:15PM. The focus of this Summit is to look at growth in the Lake Norman area – both historical and projected – and explore the public policy impacts of that growth on land use and transportation in the region. Presenters are Jeff Michael, Director of the Urban Land Institute at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Barry Moose, SEPI Engineering.

A detailed schedule and registration information are available at:

Sea TowRegister NOW for 2013 Business Expo

The 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo is scheduled for Friday, March 8th at Davidson College Belk Arena. We are still registering sponsors for the event and are now accepting booth registrations. A standard booth is $250, a booth with electricity is $300. For only $500, you could have a booth with electricity and your company or business name on marketing materials for the Expo. Expo registration forms can be found on the Chamber website, are in the January issue of the Lake Link Newsletter, or you can contact the Chamber at 704-892-1922. If you want more information on sponsorships, general booth registrations, or want to help on the Expo committee – contact Bill Russell at

*** Correction to Wednesday, January 9th Ribbon Cutting ***

8:00 AM – Ribbon Cutting @ Riva Aesthetic Dermatology

Come out and celebrate the first ribbon cutting of 2013 and welcome one of our newest members. Riva Aesthetic Dermatology is located at They are holding the Mixer at: 17039 Kenton Dr #100 in Cornelius (next to Bruster’s Ice Cream).

Lake Norman Women’s Conference set for February 7th

A speech by one of the region’s most-listened to radio personalities and a team-building session highlight the activities during the Lake Norman Women’s Conference, scheduled for Feb. 7 in Huntersville. The conference, which is being organized by the Chamber’s Diversity Council, will be held at the Hendrick Luxury Auto Mall. Registration starts at 11 a.m., followed by lunch and a day of activities concluding with a networking reception at 5 p.m.

The keynote speaker for the conference is former WBT-AM commentator Stacey Simms, while the team-building session will be led by Phil Horton, vice chairman of the chamber’s Diversity Council. There will also be a fashion show, a panel discussion and door prizes. The Women’s Conference is $50 to attend. To reserve a spot, call the Lake Norman Chamber at 704-892-1922. For sponsorship information, contact Gail Williams at Cornelius Today, 704-895-1335.

Mark Your Calendar!!!

The 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo
Friday, March 8, 2013
Davidson College Belk Arena

Presented by
Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram
Randy Marion Automotive

Gold Sponsors
Lake Norman Magazine, MI Connection
Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville

Silver Sponsors
The Herald Weekly, Piedmont Natural Gas, Carolinas Healthcare System

Bronze Sponsors
Advanced Disposal * Alphagraphics Lake Norman* Aquesta Bank & Ins.
Ballas Chiropractic * blueharbor bank * Business Today / Cornelius Today
Capital Advisory Group * Cool Breeze Cyclery * Currents Magazine
Davidson News, LLC * Eastern Roof Technologies
Energy Explorium at McGuire Nuclear Station * EnergyUnited
Fogle Insurance Group * Griffin Brothers Tires Wheels Auto Repair
J.J. Wade & Associates * Joseph Mott Insurance Group, Inc * KS Audio
Lake Norman Citizen * Little Wood Flooring  * Massage Envy Spa              Huntersville *  Newport Properties  *   North Meck Soccer Club  *  Park Avenue Properties * Raymer – Kempner Funeral Home * Redblue, Inc. * Sandler Sales Institute * Sign Innovations * The McIntosh Law Firm * The Range at Lake Norman * Vein Center of Lake Norman * Visit Lake Norman

Sponsors as of January 3, 2013.  Sponsorships are still available by calling Bill Russell 704-892-1922