Chad Collins knows what it takes to build something strong and that will last. As the owner of Collins Design Build, which specializes in custom homes, he knows you need talented and capable people throughout the building process.
As President of the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce since 2017, Collins employed a similar focus on people during his tenure. By filling the chamber’s Board of Directors with strong business leaders, Collins was able to accomplish a number of intentional changes, and to help the chamber navigate changes beyond its control, specifically the pandemic.
“When I joined the board of directors, the make up of the membership was a little bit different than it is now, no disrespect to what it was,” said Collins, whose time as chamber president ends this year. “I feel like we’ve made it better, like we have improved upon what was existing.”
Among the chamber’s accomplishments during Collins’ two-year term, the organization moved its office to a high-visibility storefront location on Churton Street. It has increased membership by 15 percent and has added several major investors that are committed to the growth of the chamber and the community.
“We built a solid board of directors that embraces our mission statement,” he said. “They’re eager to to engage with our membership and our community. That’s the type of board of directors you want.”
Collins is also pleased the chamber has achieved a group of accomplishments he believes have given it relevancy.
“We created a new website, one that will work on mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. We’ve created our social media presences. We just brought everything into relevance. While it didn’t happen during my tenure on the Board of Directors, we hired (CEO) Kim Tesoro. Kim has brought us to where we are.
The increased web and social media presence has been key for the chamber during the COVID-19 crisis. It has continued to make available information about financial assistance and resources to members, which has benefitted its members this year without having face-to-face functions and networking events.
“The chamber, for the first time since I can remember having access to the financial records, is in as strong a financial position as I can remember in my nearly two decades of chamber membership,” Collins added. “I’m very proud of that. While it’s not about making money, we do need funds to be able to create these programs and environments to where people can network and get the most from being a chamber member.”
Collins joined the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce in the early 2000s. While he has been an active leader in his profession — he was Regional Vice President for the North Carolina Homebuilders Association for five years, and then President of the Durham/Orange/Chatham Counties Homebuilders Association for a year — it wasn’t until 2017 that Collins decided it was time to take his commitment with the chamber to a new level.
“I embraced this chamber because this is my hometown,” he said. “We need a strong chamber. We want a strong chamber. Rather than fuss about it, get involved yourself. And we have certainly surrounded ourselves with rockstar people. My goal was to have a collection of people from a variety of industries. From downtown merchants, an attorney, mortgage lender, financial advisor, all these sectors, so we have a diversity of ideas. It doesn’t do us any good if everyone is a homebuilder.
“When you join the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, you have direct access to the most successful and important business people in our communities,” Collins said.
Taking over as President of the chamber Board of Directors is Tom Struckmeyer, who is a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Hillsborough. Struckmeyer has been a member of the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce since around the same time Collins became a member.
“I was mission-statement-focused during my term,” Collins added. “I started every board meeting by reading the mission statement and invited any board member who had issue with the current mission statement to speak up and let us know, and we would have the conversation on whether we needed to make our mission statement even more relevant. No one has taken that on, so I feel like we are in a good spot. I always want to leave something better than I found it. The previous administration gave me a lot to work with and I am giving Mr. Tom Struckmeyer the keys to the car. The car is running and it’s ready to roll. He is the perfect person to take us through COVID and into the next business reality, or whatever business will look like on the other side of this.”