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home : news : news September 15, 2014

10/23/2013 8:15:00 AM
Chamber executive stepping down
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Brenda Harrison

After 14 years at the helm of  the Greater Florence Chamber of  Commerce, Tom Marschel plans to  give up his post in favor of retirement.  He will step down as president  on Dec. 30.

Tom feels the chamber is in  good shape and ready for new  leadership, and he is ready to  retire.

For him, retirement means  more time to enjoy his passion for  cooking, sharing his musical talents  and spending time at his  beach home in Cherry Grove.

“I am a chef and I cook everyday,”  Tom noted. “In 2008, I  started writing a cookbook which I  plan to finish.”

Another passion is playing the  harmonica and Tom plans to teach  at the Osher Lifelong Learning  Institute in Conway on Saturdays,  He performs as St. Louis Slim  (because he used to live in St.  Louis and he used be slim), and  has plans to play with a blues musician  at a jazz tapas restaurant in  Savannah, Ga.

During his tenure at the local  chamber, Tom is proud that the  chamber has managed to stay  even with technology. Its website features unique  views online 24/7, as well as comprehensive  listings and information  about its 650 member businesses.  The chamber also has a local presence  with social media.

“We’re a data base and we’re  a search destination,” he noted,  adding that the chamber continues  to print a Membership Directory  and Newcomers Guide.

The Chamber’s 2013-2014  Business Plan features multiple  events and programs, he said,  adding that it offers a lot, especially  for a chamber this size.

The Business Plan includes five  divisions:

• The Business & Industry Relations  Division whose objective is to  work with other regional organizations  in supporting and recruiting  business, industry and tourism.  Events include Business Expo and  Building Bridges. Recently, the  2013 Emerging Business Opportunities  Conference was held in partnership  with GE and NESA.

• The Communications Divi

sion, whose objective is to enhance the image of the chamber  by providing quality information to newcomers, residents,  businesses and members. This division produces a monthly  newspaper, Chamber Link, and manages other chamber publications.

• The Community & Minority Enterprise Division whose  objective is to create a community environment that values  and supports educational systems and opportunities. This  division includes Leadership Florence and Leadership Florence  Alumni Association; an annual Washington D. C. trip;  a Legislative Day and the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration,  in partnership with Francis Marion University.

• The Finance & Membership Division whose objective is  to oversee the administrative and financial planning, procedures  and policies of the chamber and provide guidance to  the administration of staff, facilities and equipment; and to  obtain and retain members. This division includes the Ambassadors  Committee, Budget and Finance, Membership Committee,  Chamber Affinity Programs and Board of Directors  Meetings.

• The Member Services & Business Promotions Division  whose objective is to provide quality member-guest programs  and conduct activities which maximize networking  opportunities. This division includes the Annual Membership  Luncheon, the Outlook Luncheon and Business After Hours,  Business Before Hours, Chamber Spring and Fall Golf Classics,  Administrative Professional Day, Chamber’s Flavors of  Florence, and Business Boost Seminars.

“We are a member service organization and we provide  a menu of items to enhance, entrance and encourage the  business environment,” Tom said.

During his tenure, the Chamber launched Fine Flavors of  Florence which is a main fundraiser (to be held Dec. 10.),  Business Expo, expanded Building Bridges, Administrative  Professional Day, added a second golf tournament and a second  Outlook Luncheon, as well as multiple Business After  Hours and Business Before Hours. It was also during his  presidency that the chamber began presenting the May Fly  Airshows, culminating in five air shows. The airshows have  been suspended for now, due to the high cost and nearby  competition with ShawFest.

Also under Tom’s leadership, the chamber purchased a  lot a the corner of Coit and Cheves to build a new building.  Shortly after, in 2011 First Federal donated to the chamber  the bank building where the chamber offices are on the third  floor. First Federal, which became a part of S. C. Bank &  Trust, continues to occupy the first floor of this building, but  plans to move in July. They will converge into the almost new  bank facility on West Palmetto St. The former chamber building  at 610 W. Palmetto was sold. The chamber still plans to  build a new building next door to the current First Federal site  and is in negotiations to sell the current building. Tom has  agreed to help with this transition.

In 2004, Tom was honored with a state award as the  Chamber Executive of the Year by the Carolinas Association  of Chamber Executives.

Marschel moved to the Florence area in June of 1995 as  President and CEO of the Carolina Group for five daily newspapers  with Thomson Newspaper Corp., which included the  Florence Morning News. He moved here from Philadelphia,  and in 1997 he remarried. His wife, Marilyn, is a spanish  teacher with the Wilson IB program and prior to that was a  french teacher with Trinity Collegiate School.

By August of 2000, Thomson had sold all of its North  American assets, and was no longer in need of a regional  publisher. It was a couple of months later that Tom was hired  to fill the president’s slot at the Chamber.


Galloway Mosley
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