For some people, getting to know the way around town is as easy as a few handshakes. Dennis Houston appears to be one of those people.
After just a few days on the job as the Parker Chamber of Commerce’s new president and CEO, Houston is already making a name for himself. His stops at various committee and council meetings have been welcomed, and he made the most of his first impression on the chamber’s cornerstone members during a Dec. 9 luncheon at Maggiano’s, introducing some of his goals and talking of a desire to dig into the details sooner rather than later.
Houston, who left a position as head of the Norfolk, Neb., chamber to come to Parker, said he wants to find out what’s broken in the business community and collectively find ways to fix the issues. Hearing directly from business owners in Parker will help Houston determine the type of “return on investment” they are seeking out of the chamber, he said.
Houston got a head-start on establishing one-on-one relationships with leaders in the Town of Parker, and even met with a few town council members before officially being hired by the chamber. Councilmember Debbie Lewis described Houston’s enthusiastic approach as “refreshing.”
The new president also received accolades at the luncheon for visiting and showing an interest in an East Mainstreet business leads group, and quickly addressing issues that have been lingering at the chamber in the absence of a director. He told the group that he plans to work 60-70 hour weeks and will be a consistent presence at meetings for various organizations.
Despite being new and having to learn the many ins and outs of the local business community, Houston touted the benefits of having a fresh perspective, saying he is coming in with “no baggage” or preconceived notions about anyone in town.
“I’m walking into everything with a very open mind,” he said.
On his sixth day as president, Houston said he was getting a feel for the town and is excited to have met so many people who enjoy living in Parker. He is eager to share positive attributes with those outside the town’s boundaries.
“Parker has a great story to tell,” he said.
Chamber directors are now working on the 2014 budget and will have a more concrete vision going forward after a January board retreat.
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