The Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce rolled out a new strategic plan at the organization’s annual meeting Thursday.
The chamber packed the ballroom at Cross Creek Country Club with 250 members and their guests.
Bud Kilby, the recently retired CEO and president of Renfro Corporation, began his keynote address by saying he had been requested to speak on diversity and its value in business.
“When you want someone with experience in diversity, the obvious choice is an old white guy,” he joked, looking out over Cross Creek Country Club’s packed ballroom.
Kilby’s comment got a laugh, and he said that his goal in business had been to create longterm success and to build the kind of organization he wanted to work in.
The largest retailer in the world, which Kilby did not identify by name, once complained to him “we had too many white guys calling on them.” He said they had a valid point, saying when you have a meeting with six people who all look alike and talk alike and think alike, there are five people too many in the room.
Kilby stressed the importance of perspective — the importance and the validity of multiple perspectives — by sharing with the crowd an anecdote about his dog, which he assured the business leaders was a very smart dog, much smarter than any of their dogs.
Of his very smart dog, Kilby mused, “Why would a dog that smart drink out of the toilet?” because his very smart dog did exactly that every time the lid was left up. But then Kilby offered another perspective, that of his dog, wondering “Why do those people keep peeing in my water bowl?”
Kilby went on to challenge his audience with much inspirational advice, including:
• ”Comfort is false. And it’s unsustainable. Comfort is way overrated.”
• “I don’t long for a better time. Looking backward is a path to decline.”
• “The day you stop pursuing change is your first day going out of business.”
• “If you do please everyone, you’re not making enough progress,” which Kilby attributed to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, as told by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in “Lean in.”
Foreshadowing Kilby’s remarks on diversity and perspective, incoming 2018 Chamber board chair Adam Martin, of Surry-Yadkin Membership Corp., stated in his remarks, “There are only two ways to gain perspective — two “e” words: education and experience.”
Martin also unveiled the chamber’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which was adopted in December after nine months of work. But Martin said that the board started laying the foundation for the plan more than two years ago.
Components of the 2020 plan include “Vision: We are the recognized business advocate in our region,” a mission statement – “To advance, promote and encourage success for our members, Values are value integrity, leadership, collaboration, financial strength and innovation, and goals are advocacy, networking, information, education and membership,” and the organization’s motto, ANIE, an acronym for advocacy, networking, information and education.
Outgoing board chair Robbie Gardner, of Surrey Bank and Trust, provided a number of statistics during his farewell remarks. During the previous year, the chamber reached a membership peak of 568 members which is an historic high, gained 103 new members, and has a membership retention rate of 93 percent.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.