New chamber president talks vision for growth

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Created: 11 July 2016 11 July 2016

Waxahachie, TX - Business is running strong in the city of Waxahachie, and the city’s new Chamber of Commerce president and CEO said he hopes to help hardworking business owners see even more success.

Pete Havel replaced former chamber president Debra Wakeland, who served as chamber president for 15 years. She accepted a position with the city of Weatherford in March.

Havel said he learned the importance of hard work and dedication from his father.

“My dad was a small businessman. He worked in the construction industry selling construction products. He woke up early in the morning and got back late in the evening. That type of work ethic gave me a real appreciation for business owners,” Havel said. “They are looking for a better life for themselves, their family and their employees. It’s a lot of fun to get paid to work for a bunch of really hard-working people. You can’t go wrong fighting for those kinds of folks.”

During his time here in Waxahachie, Havel said he hopes to expand the chamber’s role in the community by working with the existing business as well as bringing new ones in.

“I have had some great discussions with our chamber leadership in how we are going to work with the city and with the county. We are going to have an active role in bringing some great opportunities to the community,” Havel said. “I am taking over an organization that was very well run. My goal is to make a great situation even better. What that means to me is to take our very good membership numbers and increase them and reach out even further into the community. I’m looking to develop new leaders for the community in addition to the ones that we have. We have a leadership program we want to continue to have and be successful and grow that.”

He also wants to represent local businesses in matters that touch their daily workings, Havel said.

“We want to be strong advocates for the business community both locally and at the state and federal levels. There are so many things affecting the business community these days in terms of new regulations,” Havel said. “Ellis County and Waxahachie is blessed with great leadership here among our elected officials. We want to make sure and tell them about the concerns of the business community.”

One of things he looks do is ensure chamber members are taken care of and getting what they need from the chamber to help their businesses succeed, he said.

“Within the chamber, we are going to be looking at several different things. One of the big things in any membership organization is when people ask the question, ‘What am I getting out of my membership check?’ We want to give them very tangible answers,” Havel said. “That means we are providing them with opportunities to do new business. That might mean everything from networking events to when we have success in economic development. That means more people that are sitting in the chairs at barbershops, more people in the restaurants, more potential business partnerships and all sorts of things that go into growing the community and bringing more opportunities here.” And Havel believes his wide range of experience has provided him the tools to do that, he said.

“I spent much of the last 20 years in one way or another supporting or advancing the needs of the business community. I worked for three different national trade associations, some of it in government affairs, some of it in providing services to businesses and a lot of it just being an advocate for the business community. That is perfect segue into what I am doing right now, which is fighting for the needs of the Waxahachie business community,” Havel said. “With the great things that are happening here in Waxahachie with a growing community wanting to do big things, it looked like a great opportunity for my skill set. I was looking for a new challenge and just fell in love with the community. I’m getting to know the people here at the chamber. They are great folks. They have treated me incredibly well and I’m just having a lot of fun helping all of them.”

Prior to coming to Waxahachie, he served at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as its executive director for congressional and public affairs, according to Havel’s LinkedIn page. In this role, he served an eight state region. Some of his responsibilities included lending grassroots advocacy efforts of key policy initiatives, led outreach to members of the U.S. House, Senate and state capitals, developing relationships with state and local chambers of commerce and statewide associations. He also held positions with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the North Texas Tollway Authority and the strategic communications firm The Wolf Group in Dallas.

Hovel said his door is open, and any members of the community with questions or concerns can stop by or call the chamber to talk with him. The Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce is located at 102 YMCA Dr. in Waxahachie. Havel can be reached at 972-937-2390.

Source: Waxahachie Daily Light

2016 07 11 WChamber