Service is the priority and driving force for John Stanton, new manager of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Service has been the focus of much of Stanton's life. He served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. He spent 35 years serving the needs of employers and their workers as an employee benefits specialist. He helped serve the quilters of the area and from around the state by helping organize and launch the highly successful Rim Country Quilt Roundup. Since 2005, he has served the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce as its events and membership coordinator.
Stanton and his wife, Debbie, a professional quilter, came to the area in 2000 from California to retire.
"I discovered I was too young to retire, so I went to work for Foxworth (-Galbraith Lumber Company)," he said. He worked in the yard and selling doors and windows. He was with them for four years.
Stanton was appointed interim manager of the chamber on Oct. 24 and he has now taken the title of manager.
At the quarterly meeting of the chamber, a number of members expressed both comments and criticisms about several issues. Stanton said the primary concerns were a lack of communication with members and a perceived lack of fairness and neutrality in both political and business ventures.
"There needs to be a reason to be a member. We need to be reminded of what we do (as a chamber) and what's in it for our members," Stanton said.
He is looking at making use of more tools to communicate with the membership and make their information available to the public by expanding the chamber's Web site significantly and investigating other means of communication.
"We need to make sure we are even-handed in our dealings with our members and all of the public," he added.
Stanton said he has met with all his board members and his directives include getting back to basics and serving the members; manage the budget; and increase membership.
"I have a mandate to visit with as many members as possible on a one-on-one basis and learn how they want the chamber to operate in the future."
He has also met with town officials and came away with a sense that the relationship between the chamber and town has a lot of positive potential. To help build that relationship and expand it to include the Tonto Apache Tribe and Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation, a new group, facilitated by Town Councilor Su Connell, is being organized, Stanton said.
He is also going to be meeting with the area's many nonprofits to explore partnership possibilities.
It has only been a little more than two weeks since Stanton stepped into the chamber manager's post, so he is still in the process of getting himself organized.
"The biggest challenge is prioritizing all that needs to be done to serve the membership. Meeting with people has been fabulous. There is a lot of support for honest communication and the future. We have a lot of wonderful people here."