Groves Chamber celebrating 70 years: “This is a great place to have a business”

Published 12:18 am Saturday, January 25, 2020

GROVES — The Groves Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Center is celebrating 70 years by welcoming new officers and board of directors to the chamber team in an annual breakfast banquet 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Magnolia Manor.

Beverly Herford will be introduced as the new Chamber president.

“I’m looking forward to working with the chamber and the city together to increase our membership,” Herford said. “We have better things to come this year. We had so many roadblocks in 2019 with Imelda and the blast, so we want to put things back where they need to be.”

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Herford said her goals are simple for 2020 — to do better for Groves.

“We need a coming together,” she said. “This is a great place to have a business, and we need to build and grow that clientele. To do that we need to work together with the city because they have the EDC, and the community.”

The Groves Chamber of Commerce annually puts on activities, including Small Business Saturday, The Pecan Pageant, Christmas Tree Trail and the biggest celebration, The Pecan Festival.

Herford said her goal is to continue to build on the success of the Pecan Festival, although one of her favorite events is the Easter Egg Hunt in April.

“As president I don’t necessarily want to change anything, but I want to add,” she said. “What we do is great but we can always improve and add to the success. We have a great staff at the chamber, a great board and everyone is willing to step up.”

Alongside growing businesses, Hereford said she wants to involve the community and individuals in the chamber.

“We want not only the businesses, but the whole community to be involved because it does nothing but help everyone,” she said. “All individuals affect the businesses and we want everyone to be involved.”

Herford owns Merle Norman, 4300 Lincoln Ave, and as a business owner in town, she said the chamber has been a great influence in helping her store succeed.

“It means a lot that the chamber is there,” she said. “You feel like you have a back up, people to help with your business. They promote us and are there to encourage turnout by reaching out to those that we may not. They really want everyone to succeed and I’m glad to be serving as president this year.”

Chamber Executive Manager Ronnie Boneau said the event is going to be relatively small and personal with past president Don Sodman giving a 2019 recap before the presentation of Herford.

“We get involved in a lot of community events that take a great deal of the board’s time,” Sodman said. “This past year I really wanted to focus on the connection with the chamber and the business community. I want to continue what we started last year and solidify the relationship between the chamber, the businesses and the city.”

Sodman and Boneau said one tradition they are hoping to uphold in this year’s banquet is the presentation of ambassadors.

“One of our longtime ambassadors, A.L. Wahittridge, passed away two years ago,” Boneau said. “So his son, Dr. Gary Richards, gave bicycles away to a boy and a girl in his name. We have another lady here, Cynthia Solberg, whose daughter Rebecca Block just passed away from cancer so she is donating two bicycles in her honor as well.”

Incoming officers include Rob Vensel from R&B Storit as first vice president, Pansey Lamson from TOTAL Petrochemicals as second vice president, Loyd Patterson from Mission’s Attic as treasurer and Don Sodman will serve another term on the board as past president.