Luray-Page Chamber gets a new leader in the new year
Page News and Courier
LURAY, Dec. 11 — The board of directors of the local chamber of commerce announced Tuesday that its five-month search for a new chamber president is officially over.
John Robbins of Luray will take the reins at the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce in January, according to the chairman of the chamber's board of directors Howard Thompson.
The search for a new chamber president kicked off in July, following Briana Campbell's announcement that she was leaving the position after two years to take a job as general manager of a fitness center in Maryland. At the time of her announcement, Thompson said the board of directors would conduct its search without a timetable in order to ensure finding the best candidate.
Thompson said Tuesday those “meticulous and careful” steps paid off, and that the chamber's new “cool, calm and collected” leader is well apt for the role. Thompson added that Robbins was selected from two final contenders for the position, following an initial round of interviews that included six candidates. The board received a total of about 15 resumes for the position.
“We wanted someone that could maintain the foundation that the [past chamber presidents] have laid down,” Thompson said, referencing the achievements made under the leadership of Campbell and her predecessor, Karen Riddle. “We wanted someone who can maintain that momentum and the level we've been brought to.”
Over the last half-decade, which spans Campbell's and Riddle's collective tenures, the local chamber increased its membership to an all-time high and saw a 10-percent increase in the county's lodging tax and an 18-percent increase in the chamber's revenue. This year, using a $50,000 tourism marketing grant, the organization launched a new website and branding strategy, giving the Luray-Page Chamber “a new face,” Thompson said.
Robbins, 61, said Tuesday that he will continue to expand those efforts, focusing on ways to “strengthen the business environment of Page County” by working with local business owners.
“I am very pro business,” he said. “I want to see signs that say 'Grand Opening Sale' instead of 'Going Out of Business.' ”
For nearly three decades, Robbins has worked for the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Fairfax, where he currently works as the managing editor of the organization's website. During his 29-year tenure with the NRA, he has worked as a writer and with the association's recruitment, promotion and marketing departments. He previously worked as a technical editor for two environmental consulting firms.
Robbins is a 1974 graduate of the University of Maryland, where he earned a Bachelor of English.
The new chamber president said while he recognizes the importance of tourism in the county, he plans to meet with non-tourism related business owners to “find out firsthand what they need.” Robbins added that he plans to continue “emphasizing weekend events” in the area, such as the Luray Triathlon, weddings and festivals.
The chamber's interim president Pam Flasch is set to continue serving in the position until January. Flasch, who has worked for the Luray-Page Chamber for the last eight years, will return to her former part-time position as director of communications and tourism marketing. Thompson said Flasch and other staff members will help Robbins make the transition to president.
Chamber members will get a chance to meet Robbins next week at the organization's holiday-themed Business After Hours, a monthly networking event. The event is slated to kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, at the Mimslyn Inn in Luray.