Farewell and thank you!
I must admit, this isn’t exactly how I thought my year would go.
10 months ago, I was proudly settling into my year as the Chairman-elect of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, an organization that has benefited my own business (Enprotec/Hibbs & Todd) immeasurably. I had a year to watch, learn, and to ease into the chairmanship. Or, so I thought.
It was at about that same time that then Chairman of the Board Jack Rentz answered a call to run for public office. When Jack made that decision, we learned that he needed to resign his role as Chairman. Chamber CEO Doug Peters calls Jack’s term as Chairman “the year that never happened.” We’re thankful that Jack sought to serve in a different, meaningful capacity. Despite his short tenure, he left the organization positioned for continued greatness. I was proud to follow him.
So long about January, I was tapped to take over the helm, and it has been a whirlwind ever since. Fellow members, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce is without a doubt the place in our community “where the action is.” Although a longtime Chamber supporter, officer and promoter, I didn’t fully grasp the depth of the work of this organization until I was neck-deep into it.
Abilene, Texas, is lucky to have a business advocacy organization that is capable, strategic and driven. We have a professionally-trained staff that I’d put up against any Chamber of Commerce staff anywhere. But, what surprised me the most were the number or tireless, dedicated volunteers who drive the organization. Our members in large part aren’t just businesses who support the Chamber because it’s their civic obligation, but these people engage. And you commit, follow-through and have helped us to build one of the best-performing Chambers of Commerce in America. In fact, we’re officially one of the top 199 best-performing Chambers of Commerce out of more than 7,000 across the nation. That’s a big deal. And it’s because of you.
We have had a fantastic year, with steady membership growth; strong financial performance; tremendous progress against our Advantage Abilene strategy; and with member engagement at an all-time high.
Our work in Washington, D.C. and in Austin is particularly noteworthy. I doubt that many of us know the heavy lift of constantly monitoring, advocating and securing business-friendly public policy undertaken by our staff and volunteers. But our Chamber does it, and we do it well. You can rest easy knowing that your regional association for business is awake, engaged, and working on your behalf at all hours of the day (and night, in many cases).
Through the work of our Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB), the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council (ACAC), our Abilene Industrial Foundation (AIF), Military Affairs Committee (MAC), Young Professionals and the new Abilene Downtown Initiative, we’ve made remarkable progress. And progress is always the objective of your Chamber. For a full look at the Chamber’s accomplishments over the last year, click HERE to view our 2017-18 Annual Report to our membership.
I’m going to miss the ongoing, regular and fun interaction with staff, our members and our affiliates’ initiatives as my term as your Chairman ends, but I won’t be going far. I’ll proudly continue to serve in the capacity of Immediate-past Chairman among the Chamber’s Officer corps. I’ll be cheering for and advocating for incoming Chairman Seaton Higginbotham (Arrow Ford). Please welcome Seaton to this important role next time you see him.
I want to take one final opportunity to say thank you to each of you who have signed up, shown up and helped our area’s chief business advocacy organization to be effective, successful and grow. It’s been an honor to serve as your Chairman, and I encourage all of us to continue to find meaningful ways to serve. This is our Chamber, our community and our future.
Thank you for your past, present and future support. Go Chamber, Go Abilene!
Chairman of the Board