[Intro] Welcome to chats with chambers with your hosts Patrick Kirby and Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each week we connect and learn from executives of chambers of commerce from across the country. These short episodes will share success stories, challenges, best practices, and tips and tricks to inspire you, and provide resources for hitting your organizational goals. From recruiting new and retaining current members to finding new and creative revenue sources. You’ll hear straight from those leading chambers and communities throughout the US. Chats with chambers is proudly brought to you by the Nonprofit bootcamp. Learn more and check out the show notes for episodes at https://nonprofitbootcamponline.com
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey everybody, you see me here with a another chats with chambers. I’m so excited today to be joined by Frank Udvarley of the Loomis basin Chamber of Commerce in California. Welcome.
[Frank Udvarley] Hey, everybody, how you doing?
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I had to practice the name, but I think I did. It works. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here. I would love for you just kind of start out and let us know a little bit about the Loomis basin chamber who you serve and kind of, you know, a little bit about you.
[Frank Udvarley] Yeah, sure. Well, Frank, good, really, I’ve been in the chamber world. Oh, about six years now as a volunteer as an ambassador getting on committees and boards through different chambers. And then this opportunity opened up quite recently, August of 21. So I accepted the opportunity to take over as the chamber CEO, Executive Director, depending on what part of the industry you’re in, but sort of Yeah, to bring it into the 22nd century.
You know, Loomis is a Loomis isn’t, there’s a lot of rich heritage in this town. It started off, you know, the remnants of the gold rush in this part of California. Once the gold panning was over with, they switched to fruit growing fruit packing. And since we have the transcontinental railroad that runs through town, all of the fruit that was shipped, pretty much all over the country came somewhat from this area. So those started to disappear around the 60s and 70s, you know, farms moved out of the area and houses popped up.
So the area’s got a lot of rich heritage, a lot of five, six generations, who are who are born and raised here. But because of where we are in proximity to the Bay Area. And over the past couple of years, with the affordability of housing in our area, we’ve had this major influx of people leaving San Francisco Bay and coming up here. So it’s kind of a merging into two separate worlds, the Born and raised and the transplants. So different demographics, you know, different spending habits, different desires, different ideas for mixers, and events. So as I’ve come in as the new guy in town.
We have five chambers in our South Placer County. So each of the five towns are quite different in a way, a couple are more similar, but we’re more of the farm country town, we have larger lots. We still have grow wine, we have fruits, you know, we have lots of livestock in this area. Turkeys, sheep, goats, all that fun stuff. So I get the pleasure of saying, Alright, how do we preserve the past and honor that, but yet, make it a little bit more modern and attractive to the people who have moved here. So that way everybody feels included.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So would you say that the folks that kind of came in from the Bay Area, you know, are they coming with business? Or are they coming into work since that’s now kind of a new reality for so many of us post COVID?
[Frank Udvarley] Well, the so this area has always been a military town in a way I mean, outside of the local businesses, small business medium sized business, and Sacramento is not too far. It’s about 25 miles away. So there’s there’s a hevel heavy industry of state workers as well as military bases and people who sometimes are temporary you know if especially if they’re traveling through the military, they’re here for two or three years and then they pass on to another they’re transferred out. But the Bay Area transplants are coming here with you they’re either remote workers stay at home workers or they’re coming to a job that’s new emerging new and emerging jobs. So there is different you know, there’s different desires people who work remotely Of course they want internet Well, this areas of it’s not very easy to get internet not even cellular signals in certain parts of town right. So There’s that bucket, but then the ones who live closer to the downtown areas, of course, you know, they get high speed internet and all that. But then the affordability of renting spaces. So still have that dichotomy of people who are going to work remotely. And that’s the problem that I want to solve, in a way is the people who are working remotely who came from another part of the state? How do we get them out of their houses out of their home offices out of their co working spaces, and come to our events and mixers and come to our festivals even? You know, what’s the what’s in it for me question, what I want to answer?
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, um, what would you say is kind of your best at like, what would you say you’re most proud of that the Loomis basin chamber does every year?
[Frank Udvarley] You know, our chamber, we have the eggplant festival in town, you know, because we are an agricultural town. And truth be told it started as a joke about 35 years ago, all the other good fruits and vegetables were taken. So the old timers like, hey, let’s pick the eggplant, right. And it stuck, you know, so that’s our little, you know, downtown squash festival. And it’s a lot of fun, because all the you know, the businesses come out, they have their booths, and we have the school kids that perform and the local bands that perform the shows, you know, the farm equipment, show the car show the heavy machinery show because of that’s the type of people in town. But something that now that other chambers, other towns, everybody has their own events. So how do we then do a county wide, like, advertise for each other. So you know, hey, in October, you got the eggplant Festival in September, you got the chili cook off. And, you know, once we all start to collaborate together, the people who are moving here from another county in other parts of the state two, three hours away, we can advertise to their friends and relatives, hey, if you’re gonna come up and visit your cousin, or your father, your son, whatever it is, come up on this weekend. And there’s a festival a good collaboration.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] so much. I think that’s so smart. And then do you all also share that in some of like, does that help with like advertising expenses and things like that, also?
[Frank Udvarley] Yeah, and that’s the other thing we’re working on, as well, because, you know, the digital age, you know, the way things have been done. A lot of newspaper ads, a lot of even direct mail ads in some parts. Specifically, in our chamber, they’re, they’re newer to Instagram, especially social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, you know, I jumped right on there, and I’m promoting the heck out of everything on those platforms. Because you have the, you know, again, look at those two different platforms, the type of people are going to be different on those platforms. That’s kind of a representation of our town, you have the LinkedIn crowd, you have the Instagram crowd, and, you know, I’m on the tick tock crowd as well. You know, so, but that, you know, sort of if you’ve looked at a different level, there’s still the people I didn’t see it in the newspaper, or, you know, Ed didn’t tell me when I was having coffee this morning, it’s like, all right, how do we reach them as well? And that’s not just our town, I would say is a more glaring example of that than the other towns. However, we all have the same issues of how do we get people to find us. So again, like brand recognition, if they see our event, blasted to all five chamber networks. And then the our we have a newspaper in town, it’s run by Gold Country media, but it’s, you know, there’s there’s publications in each town. So they’ll share it calendar events as well, like collaboration, I think, now that I’m rambling collaboration is the thing that I’m most proud of, because we’re all in it together.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and I think, especially when you’re in areas where there’s so many other chambers that are close by, I think, where it might feel like we should compete with each other, when you work together, you’re actually going to increase your membership also, because they’re going to find the right fit and retain your member, because they’re, they’re finding the right fit for their business.
[Frank Udvarley] Correct. And I’ll say that from a firsthand, you know, my my consulting, business, intelligent choice training, I’m a member of chambers. So I was on the other side, looking to market and network and grow my businesses. And, you know, I was I got to pick and choose, oh, that’s not really worth my time, my marketing budget, or, Oh, this is something I have to go to. So now that I’m sitting in this seat, I’m very aware of Yeah, people make a choice to come to our events. They don’t have to because there is competition. And all of us chamber executives in the area. We talked about that. All right. Well, you know, we can’t all do our mixers on the same night, because then we’re only going to, we’re only going to have our certain certain loyal customers, which is wonderful. But if we’re going to grow membership, if we’re going to attract people to our events versus your events, that’s where the collaboration is key, and it’s proving to work out really well. We do. We do a joint Government Affairs Committee. So we have the top brass elected officials, all that kind of stuff. So we trade locations, and it’s hosted by that home chamber in that town. But it moves to each of the different quadrants every quarter.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] It’s really smart. So you alluded to it a little bit earlier. But what’s kind of one of the things that you have struggled with, at the chamber?
[Frank Udvarley] I, so as a volunteer, I was on the committees where there was, like, 30 of us. And then it seemed like everybody got business, everybody got what they were looking for. Everybody got busy. And then, of course, the world shut down. And now it’s like, okay, where’s everybody? Where’s our ambassadors? Where’s our volunteers? Where’s our people to come and help set up and we’re very heavily reliant on our board of directors, you know, if we don’t have volunteers, I can only be in one place at a time. And it’s kind of volleying between, you know, working in the business and working on the business, I want to, I want to have creative time, so I can go out and do some reconnaissance and see what people want. But then I have to sit in the office and do accounting, that, that kind of, you know, you’re facilitating, and you’re participating, and you’re stuck between how do we grow? And how do we survive? That’s something that I personally, I’m invested in answering, you know, because of my coaching background, you know, I look at this entity as its own organism, how do we get it to be attract? How do we get people to want to volunteer here? And then back to my other comment about collaboration? We have ambassadors, you know, I still volunteer at the other chambers. As a business owner, I still am a member of the other chambers. And ambassadors, you know, we all share the workload, because it’s fun. How do we how do we show that and that’s what I want to display to the new people in town who might never have been to a chamber mixer before. You know, the old adage is like, well, if you’re hungry, or you’re thirsty, go to a chamber event because there’s bound to be refreshments. No.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yep. So, um, I guess it’s kind of like a tip because I, I’m all I’m with you. I’m all for collaborations, I think in all industries, in all places, they are a way to just build and grow faster in. And I think everything you’re saying is spot on, I think what you’re struggling with, with regards to volunteers, like everything, everybody’s feeling that. So I’d love it. If you could maybe share a tip for other chambers that are like I love the idea of collaborating, but I just don’t see like, how did you get to that spot, because it’s not always the easiest to merge chambers together to come to a common good, like some people might fight over? Well, I always do my mixers on Thursday, and now you’re telling me I have to move it to Wednesday, like, you know, it’s a dance, so kind of how could you maybe give a tip on how that evolved? Or how you how you kind of work through that process?
[Frank Udvarley] Well, I mean, I let the customer speak for itself. If no one shows up, that’s an indicator of you got to change something. If if there’s more complaints than commandments, you know, that’s take that into consideration and say, Alright, well, what would you rather us do, and of course, you know, the, be careful when you ask everybody for suggestions, because then they expect you to take that as a command. And if you don’t do it, they get, you know, things might go wrong, but really serving the members and really getting out there. I guess a good example is so we have a coffee connection. So the first Thursday of the month, we do in the central square, you know, we get everybody together for coffee and donuts. And it’s a little bit of, you know, all of the elected and appointed officials, the mayor, the city manager, stuff like that, they come together, and they give updates to any of the parts of you know, participants who were there. But because it’s a chamber, I pick one business member and have them talk for 510 15 minutes, about specifically about what they do. So your organization, you know, it’s like a live podcast, if you will. This is my organization. This is what we do in town, this is how you can get involved. And this is maybe our obstacles and you know, questions that we have, and you know, those different levels of business to appointed to elected to State and Federal Reserve representatives, all get together and have a platform to be heard and have a place to have a conversation. And then especially the public that shows up when they get involved, they feel like they’re being listened to. And you know, everybody knows that you’re not going to solve all the problems of the whatever the infrastructure problems, voting problems, you name it, but at least the discussions being had and that one event has now turned into the must attend event in town harshly because if I’m getting up early in the morning, I want to make it worth my time. So I want to make it worth everybody’s time. And that’s where we have people who have to run to the office. You know, they just dropped their kids off at school, so they’re in between things like that one event fits the time of day for the most amount of people who attend. And it, it makes it, it’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s productive. And that is become the example of Alright, now how do we do the other events in our town? How do we structure the other things in, in our area to be along that mantra of you know, I’m getting something out of this for my time. Because again, if you’re not being paid to be there, or you’re not being motivated to be there with coffee and doughnuts, you’re volunteering. Even if you’re a business owner, and you’re not want on a board or committee, you’re still volunteering your time, versus somewhere else, right. So the another good example I’ll use really quick is we hosted our chamber awards, dinner, just recently, and we did a circus theme. So we did you know, a non traditional event, like it was a proper circus minus the animals. But we had the stilt walkers, the jugglers, the balloon guys, the photobooth, DJ, and you came to see a show that just happened to have awards for the chamber. You know, most neighborly person, Business of the Year, nonprofit are there. So it was fun, even if you didn’t know who anybody was that was winning the award. Mm hmm. And then it was, you know, the FOMO kick in of, oh, I didn’t get to go to this wonderful chamber event. I better put it on my calendar next year. And you know, we sold out of tickets, we set a level and we’ve surpassed that level. So it’s telling me that the demand is there. It’s just maybe we need to, of course, the pivot word comes in what we were doing before, kind of fizzled. So now, yeah,
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] yeah, I mean, I think it’s if you do things the same way all the time, you’re never gonna see progress. So it doesn’t mean you need to change everything, like you still did the awards. It was just kind of changing a piece of it. So you’re not abandoning everything, but just kind of improving upon what was already happening, right? Serving your audience, hearing what they want. And then I think the hardest part for people is actually listening and changing what you do based off of what they say. It’s like, if I tell you who I am, and you don’t believe me, well, that’s on you. That’s not on me. I told you that I was this way. Yeah, right. Yeah, I told you as a member, this is what I want. If you’re not working towards that, within reason, you can’t be surprised when people don’t show up or membership is fading.
[Frank Udvarley] Yeah. And I’ll say, that’s why I accepted this position, because I’m a little bit selfish, you know, I want to, I want to help transform our region, and, you know, the rising tide floats, all boats, and if we can all collaborate together, you know, our home values will stay high our property values, you know, in from an investment perspective, people are gonna want to open businesses here, people are gonna want to move here for our schools. And you know, the three legged stool that we sit on, is the business community, the government, and our school system. And all of us are part of all of these networks. And we often don’t have time or the the outlet or the place to communicate. So if the chamber can fill that gap, and say, All right, well, here we are. You know, we’re all at this event together. We’re all at the circus together. So of course, you know, things are gonna get shared.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that’s so good. Well, you think a lot of great things for other chambers to think about. I really love action piece. If there’s business owners or just people that live in Loomis basin, and they’re in joining the chamber, or just more, how can they find out more about about you off?
[Frank Udvarley] Sure. Well, I’m part of the other thing by by the time you hear this, it should be finished, but I’m creating a new website. So we’re totally upgrading our website to match our digital presence. And if you can find us at Loomis chamber.com, email me directly at manager at Loomis chamber.com. Or of course, you know, give us a good ol call 916-652-7252.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on this episode. And we can’t wait to hear keep moving forward this year.
[Frank Udvarley] All right. Well remember, the Loomis chamber closes the gap between citizens local leaders and business owners who live work and play in South Placer County.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Great way to end it off.
[Closing] Hey, thanks for listening to chats with chambers. For more information about the chamber featured in this episode or to check out show notes for links and resources. Visit nonprofitbootcamponline/podcast. Hey subscribe, give us a five star review if you liked what you heard and if you are a chamber would like to be a guest on this show. Hey, email us email@example.com Or firstname.lastname@example.org Links in the show notes
The Loomis Area chamber is one of 5 chambers in Placer County, CA.
Their biggest event each year is their Eggplant Festival. One of the things that they love to do is collaborate with the other chambers in the county to share all of the events that are happening. That way as people are coming new into the area they can hear about everything, or if they’re traveling they know what’s going on. It helps to spread the word more easily.
It also helps them spread the word in more places from word-of mouth to social media to print and paid.
Collaborating with other area chambers also helps to keep your events from overlapping. In Placer County they also share in the load to host the monthly meetings with elected officials.
Questions We Asked
- What is the Loomis Basin Area Chamber all about? [1:19]
- What are you most proud of? [5:49]
- What are challenges you face? [10:20]
- What is your tip and trick to pass on to other chambers? [12:15]
- How can you learn more about Loomis Basin Chamber? [18:28]
Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce
As you get to know Frank Udvarhely, it is easy to see that he is an #Influencer. Growing up in New Jersey then later relocating to California, Frank developed an aptitude for personal growth. For a few years, he traveled around the country and beyond to expand and enhance his resources. While living abroad, Frank took to Modeling, Behavioral Counseling, Quantum Theory and Motivational Interviewing techniques which is how he became a highly skilled, Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Hypnotherapy. His goal is to teach others how to expand their executive functioning. Frank can be seen inspiring clients to simplify, clarify and economize their life by letting go of negative habits & limiting beliefs.
Congruent with his goal of coaching people towards living a more mindful & productive life, Frank returned to college and graduated with honors in Finance from Sacramento State. Observing the many mentors during his Financial Advising career, Frank wholeheartedly decided to use his consulting skills to train others how to independently make better lifestyle choices by bridging the tried-and-true optimization methods with Next-Gen thinking. When people strengthen their Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Financial Health, quality of life improves.
Frank has become a beacon of excellence in Placer County. As CEO of the Loomis Chamber of Commerce, he pays it forward, helping businesses prosper. As founder of Intelligent Choice Training LLC, he guides executives, entrepreneurs, and people like you through a transformational experience. During his time representing the Rocklin Chamber he developed his training skills as Chair of their Leadership Rocklin program. As a Rotarian, his philanthropic goals are met. Sitting on the Board of Directors of Stand-Up Placer his empathy is displayed. His most grateful experience is being appointed of the Greater Auburn Area Fire Safe Council to help coordinate efforts for saving lives.
Learn more: https://loomischamber.com