Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

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.

January 15, 2013 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman Chamber President’s eBrief Newsletter for Dec 7, 2012

Chamber Members & Stakeholders:

 Chamber 25th Annual Gala and Awards     Dinner Set For Thursday, January 24th at  Havana Banquet & Ballroom

You will not want to miss the Lake Norman Chamber’s 25th Anniversary Awards Gala set for Thursday, January 24, 2013 at the Havana Banquet & Ballroom.  The evening will begin at 6:00 pm with a VIP Cocktail Reception for Sponsors and will include beer, wine and  hors d’oeuvres.  The remainder of the evening will include a plated dinner and formal program beginning at 6:45pm.

In honor of the 25th Year Anniversary, we’ve built in some surprise guest speakers and awards you will not want to miss.  This year will focus on “Growing Business, Involving the Community, and Touching Lives.” Please help us honor some of the distinguished members and volunteers of our business community.  For more information on sponsorships please visit the website or call Brett Zabek at 704-892-1922.

Chamber seeking 2013 Expo Sponsors

The region’s largest business trade show is set to make its return to the Davidson College Belk Arena on Friday, March 8th from 11 am until 5 pm. The Chamber has again signed up many of its marketing partners who will promote the sponsors and event.  Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Randy Marion Automotive are back as the Presenting Sponsors and MI Connection, Lake Norman Magazine, and Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville are Gold Sponsors.  Piedmont Natural Gas and Carolinas Healthcare System are Silver Sponsors.  Also on board marketing the show is The Herald Weekly as a Silver Sponsor and Bronze Sponsors Currents Magazine, Business Today / Cornelius Today, and the Lake Norman Citizen. (A full listing of Bronze sponsors to date will be listed on the Chamber’s website next week.)

The Chamber is seeking additional sponsors, both Silver (Limited to five) and Bronze Sponsors.  2012 sponsors will be contacted to renew their sponsorships which include the benefit of directing their booth placement, VIP event, and recognition on marketing material including the Chamber’s homepage and Expo website. Deadline for sponsorships is December 31st and payment must be received by January 31, 2013.  Download and reserve your sponsorship in the lake’s largest business trade show at: 2013 Lake Norman Business Expo.

Community Corner

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce is pleased to partner with many of our outstanding local businesses during this holiday season.  VisitLakeNorman’s Visitor’s Center and the Chamber of Commerce is a drop off point both for Toys for Tots and a Pet Supply Donation Drive.  To show your support for Toys for Tots, please bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Lake Norman Visitors Center (Chamber & Visit Lake Norman 19900 West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius) by December 14th, 2012. Toys for Tots will distribute all toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Pet Supplies are also being accepted through December 24th with the KobeCares project.  For more information see the Chamber’s website.

For What it’s worth-

A couple of weeks ago Cornelius Commissioner John Bradford and I called on 19 local Cornelius businesses, stopping in to see how the business was doing and how the town and chamber might be able to assist.  Of the 19 businesses,16 were local chamber of commerce members.  This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to do the same with Huntersville Commissioner Danny Phillips with 12 businesses.  (We intend to make similar visits in Davidson next month).

More visits are planned with John and Danny in the next couple of weeks.  Overwhelmingly the feedback has been extremely positive.  Business revenues have improved over 2011 and most of our businesses expect an even better 2013.  That sense of optimism exists with both service and retail businesses.

While signage concerns were cited in both towns, and the businesses in the Sam Furr Rd / NC 21 quadrant were concerned if not distressed with the new “Quad Left” configuration, overall business is picking up at the lake.  That is why it so is very important that each of you, when you consider your holiday shopping needs, please Shop Lake Norman and support you local merchant!

From the NorthLake Mall to retail centers in Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mooreseville – we likely have that perfect gift for a family member or friend.  The staff of our retail stores are our neighbors, family members and friends and they in turn look locally for their local services: from banking to healthcare, insurance to real estate.  Bottom line – it pays to shop local.

Both Commissioner Bradford and Phillips run small businesses themselves – one a real estate and property management office and the other a retail store and I deeply appreciate their willingness to take time to visit out local businesses with me and listen as some of you share both your success stories and concerns.

Danny Phillips, as many of you know, runs the family-owned  Old Store Produce at 14720 Brown Mill Road (Huntersville) at the Corner of Hwy 73 and Beatties Ford Road.  The other day when I took Danny back to his store, it was bustling with activity as people were shopping for their Christmas Trees (starting at just $39), wreaths, and produce.

It’s exciting to hear business is doing better at the lake and each of us can play a part supporting our local merchants.  Shop Local this holiday season and remember the job you might be saving – might be your own!     

Bill Russell

December 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment