Word from the Chairman

After an early banking career in Dallas and more than a decade of service in the ministry, in 2006 Larry Anthis relocated his family to his hometown of San Antonio, re-entered banking and immersed himself in his community – including volunteering for the North Chamber. Today, Larry is a Vice President at Frost developing the Schertz market for the Texasbased bank and will serve as the North Chamber’s 2012 Chairman of the Board.

“At Frost, we hold entrepreneurialism, relationships and community in high regard,” says Larry, “and the North Chamber shares our values to help people build their business while being flexible and nimble to respond to a fluctuating business environment.”

For 38 years, the North Chamber has endeavored to offer an atmosphere of inclusiveness in which any member – regardless of company size or revenue, has access and the ability to make an impact on the community at a micro level. “The North Chamber’s milestones have been achieved by the actions of volunteers who worked together to affect change in the areas of education, infrastructure and quality of life,” says Larry, emphasizing that he will build upon such projects initiated by previous board chairs. “I am a steward of an ongoing legacy to build business and build leaders, but I also feel we are at the top of our game, and I’m challenging our chamber leadership to increase performance and build upon the chamber’s success,” he adds.

At a working retreat last year, the incoming board of directors evaluated the chamber’s values, deliverables and member needs, then developed a few concise objectives to help define the chamber’s course in a more strategic manner.

From the planning session emerged a consensus that the North Chamber consistently advocates for a pro-business agenda and offers a proven array of programs that provide leadership and professional development, networking and recognition for professionals at every age and stage of career development. “Members find a lot of value in our programs, so we won’t change what we deliver. We will continue to listen to our members and ask ourselves, ‘Does this benefit our members? Can we do it in an excellent way?’ And if a program isn’t meeting this criteria, then our members will dictate that we do something else, and that keeps us dynamic,” says Larry.

Furthermore, the board suggested a revised communication strategy in terms of becoming a more virtual chamber in a digital age. This year, the chamber plans to design and build a modernized marketing and communications infrastructure that better facilitates the flow of information between the chamber, its members and the community. “We are reimagining our connectivity to serve multiple audiences who are more reliant on mobile computing devices, smartphones, digital and social media and personalized content that is tailored to their interests,” explains Larry.

Engaging the millennial workforce was also a recognized challenge to member businesses. “Today’s workforce and employers have a unique set of needs and circumstances. In some cases it’s about training young professionals for the workforce and other times it’s training the employers about what Generation Y needs,” says Larry. “Companies are employing these folks and want to keep them retained, and we’re offering solutions among others, like Leadership Lab and the Enterprising Women’s Conference, that help the business community cultivate a more skilled and empowered workforce,” he adds.

The North Chamber understands that small business members require particular focus as they seek resources and value for their organizations, thus will continue to deliver specialized programming like the How 2 instructional seminars and Sustainability Series, as well as financial and technology related programming. “The men and women who put it on the line every day in their businesses are taking the risks to help grow this economy,” says Larry. “They are largely represented within the North Chamber, and in us they have a voice and an advocate.”

Additionally, the North Chamber will work to bolster the return on investment for its members through an individualized effort to get more people involved and engaged via volunteerism. “We know that service hours and financial involvement are the keys to realizing a return on membership investment,” says Larry. As such, the chamber will aim to broaden the depth of member business participation by creating more than one touch point within member organizations, thereby increasing leadership opportunities to more professionals.

Finally, Larry feels that by optimizing the North Chamber’s offerings and operations, it will be positioned to deliver higher value to its membership. “By getting involved, our members use this chamber as a vehicle to work on their business. This is an ideal venue for professionals to demonstrate their expertise, position themselves as an authority in their community, grow their business and even cultivate employees,” says Larry. “I look forward to working with the membership and community to make 2012 a successful year.”