For Jaron Chasca, getting involved with the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce was a natural business decision.
A second generation funeral director and licensed embalmer with Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services, the 35-year-old has been a member since 2009, joining the board a year later.
“We want to make sure we’re involved in the community that supports us,” said Chasca, whose father, John Chasca, ran the business before him. “That’s a big thing for us. Without the community, we wouldn’t have a business here.”
Chasca learned the ropes as a director before working his way through the executive roles and being named president at the chamber’s AGM last September.
He is looking forward to working with a talented board that includes: vice-president Tracy Cobb-Reeves (Kal Tire), secretary-treasurer Markus Schrott (BDO Canada), past-president Adrian Johnson (KPMG) and directors Dauna Kennedy Grant (Vernon Public Art Gallery), Marlene Higgins (Kal Tire) Matthew Davidson (Valhalla Environmental Consulting), Caroline Radics (Investia Financial Services), Andrew Powell (Nixon Wenger Lawyers), Rob Tedham (RBC Dominion Securities), Ingrid Dilschneider (Predator Ridge Resort), Adrienne Harris (Portico Property Services) and Diana Wilson (Kal Tire).
“We have a very strong board that is very engaged and active,” said Chasca.
“We try to get people from all areas. We’ve put in a skills matrix system that allows us to find people with the correct skill set we’re looking for. We adopted this a few years ago, and it’s proving to work well.”
There seems to be a lot of newness at the chamber at the moment. Not only is there the new executive, but Dan Rogers is not yet a full year into his role as general manager, and Dan Proulx is just over the half-year mark as the chamber’s membership and events co-ordinator.
Throw in a new Vernon mayor and council, along with a recently adopted three-year strategic plan, and there is a lot to look forward to, said Chasca.
He noted the three-year plan focusses mainly on building value to the membership, in addition to the ongoing networking and advocacy services the chamber already offers.
“We’re making sure we have different programs that appeal to the diversity of our membership,” said Chasca, a netminder with the Kasper Denture Red Wings in the Vernon Rec Hockey League (he has yet to play this year as he is recovering from a foot injury).
With the economic fallout of 2008, and subsequent recession, still lingering in people’s minds, Chasca said the past few years have been spent solidifying the chamber’s position.
“Like any organization, we’ve gone through some financial struggles, same as the local businesses here have,” he said. “But we’ve put the foundations in place to move forward and grow the chamber.”
Chasca would also like to see communications remain open with the City of Vernon, and given the varied experience of his board, feels they can contribute to topics ranging anywhere from ensuring adequate community water supplies to the development of recreational and cultural facilities.
“We want to be engaged and part of those discussions to ensure the decisions that are made are in the best interest of the business community and the long-term economy of Vernon,” said Chasca, adding Rogers’ former role as mayor of Prince George will become an invaluable asset.
“Dan brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the board, especially in dealing with local politicians, having been one himself in a past life.
“We want to challenge the city in making improvements to decisions and design processes to improve the way we do business in Vernon, and making sure we’re open for business.”