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2017 should be another great PA Chamber year

Earl Heard said he learned his life passion while learning to swim as a teenager.

Heard said he was in a swimming pool in the shallow end. A lifeguard asked him why he wasn’t in the deep end with his friends.

Heard said he was deathly afraid of the water and couldn’t swim. The lifeguard asked him if he knew how to listen. He answered yes. The lifeguard told him not only would he become a good swimmer, but he would become a lifeguard and work for him one day.

“That lit a fire in me to train people,” Heard said.

He made the comments as honorary guest speaker at the 117th annual banquet of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night at the Bob Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur.

He started working construction in 1965 and started BIC publication in the early 1980s despite also earlier going broke. He told the audience his secret of leadership and networking using the acronym under leadership.

For L, he urged leaders to recognize other people and to be a good leader is to be a good listener.

For E, be enthusiastic and encourage people.

“Happiness is a choice,” Heard said.

He told of how growing up he became a cheerleader instead of a football player. A cheerleader, however, is still a leader.

For A, be accessible and take action.

Under D, be a delegator; to be a good leader one must be a good follower. As a CEO one has to work on the business and in the business.

D, determine your goals.

Under E, education and effort— early in his career he volunteered for fire and safety and everything else he could learn.

“I put in the effort,” he said.

For R, recognition and resilience. You don’t have to be number one. Train others to be number one. That’s the way to build a company.

For S, strength and strategy. Be the rock, be the leader of your family.

Under H, is honesty. Give back. Others helped him when he hit rock bottom in the early 1980s and you should help others.

For I, he listed influence, integrity and instinct. Successful people are not necessarily the most interesting, but the most interested people.

P stands for passion.

When discussing networking, never meet a stranger and be nice.

“Ask yourself who can I connect with? Look out for others and keep up the hard work,” he said.

Outgoing chairwoman Barbara Phillips said she was anxious about becoming chairwoman last year until she realized she had a tremendous reservoir available to her through the Chamber staff, and a committed and capable board of directors and volunteers.

“We want the Chamber to be the very best it can be. 2016 was a great year for the Chamber,” she said.

Some of the highlights were:

  • The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce applied to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • There was more support for educational goals through a revived education committee. They also support students learning English and scholarships are given to the top graduating seniors and CATE students in the Port Arthur ISD and Sabine Pass ISD.
  • Fundraising efforts have increased and attendance at Chamber functions has increased by 30 percent.
  • A farewell luncheon was held for outgoing Port Arthur Mayor Deloris “Bobbie” Prince and a welcome breakfast for new Mayor Derrick Freeman.
  • The Contractor Business Development Program started in 2016 as a networking meeting for contractors.
  • The Chamber supports the city of Port Arthur’s efforts to become a Coast Guard city.
  • A transportation plan was developed for the community.
  • Ambassadors were recognized for promoting the Chamber and articles appearing in The Port Arthur News promoting and profiling Chamber members.

Incoming chairwoman, Marian Ruiz, said they will carry on active Chamber programs in 2017. She also reminded the audience of Golden Triangle Days in Austin in March as an opportunity to network with legislators.

Plans are in the works to revitalize the membership committee to recruit and retain members.

“Networking events are an excellent opportunity to see what the Chamber has to offer,” Ruiz said.

Jeff Hayes, the 2016 recipient of the Arthur E. Stilwell Award, presented the 2017 award to Hargie Faye Savoy.

Hayes read a letter from former State Sen. Carl Parker to Savoy how no one is more deserving of the award and he appreciates her life of service to Port Arthur.

Hayes said he has know Savoy for 40 years and she has been an inspiration to all.

“You believe in our Lord as all should do and do these things. You’re a great believer in family.”

Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, asked Savoy to start a support group in this community.

“You’re part of everything good in Port Arthur,” Hayes said.

Savoy said she does love Port Arthur.

“It’s a wonderful and great place to live. I’m so honored to receive this award. My parents moved here in 1923,” she said.

David Ball: 409-721-2427