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 flochamber.comfeatures 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.