A Conversation with Phil Barber, Chamber of Commerce President
Fifth in a series of interviews by the Realty Owners Association Trustees
By Jon Ready
Jon: Hi Phil, thanks for agreeing to be part of the ROA’s series of conversations with a number of people in town. As President of the Chamber of Commerce, you are immersed in many projects and our members look forward to hearing from you. Let’s start with a few questions the Trustees have for you.
Tell us about yourself and how did you come to settle in Stone Harbor.
Phil: My partner and I purchased a vacation home here in 1999 and moved down full time in 2004. We own a business that manufactures Advertising Specialties in Vineland. We’ve always dabbled in residential and commercial real estate and in 2006 we purchased a retail building on 96th Street. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Walters invited me to sit on the Business Advisory Committee which reports to Mayor and Council on issues related to the Business District. In 2010, at the urging of Deb Orzech and Judy Davies Dunhour, I joined the Chamber Board and made a run for the Presidency (unopposed!!!), and that is how I became involved with the Chamber.
Jon: What does the Stone Harbor Chamber do and how is it organized?
Phil: The Chamber works to promote our members and their businesses to the residents and visitors of Stone Harbor. We have a large board – any interested business person can join - and a five-person executive board that manages the organization. We produce the Vacation Guide, maintain and staff the Welcome Center on 96th Street, sponsor multiple events and work with the Borough on most others, manage the website www.stoneharbor.com, and publish the online “Chamber Chatter” and maintain our Facebook pages and other social media. We have strong support from the business community. My role is to keep the organization moving forward while keeping an eye on our finances. We work very hard at promoting our members, island happenings, and events hosted by the Borough, and other organizations and charities on the island. We have a great board of interested business owners that share ideas – everyone wants to make Stone Harbor better, so my job is easy.
Jon: Since you have been President, what is your proudest accomplishment?
Phil: Getting Jean Miersch involved! I’ve known Jean for years; she loves Stone Harbor and is always there to help in any situation. When we were looking for a person to run the day to day operations of our organization, Jean was the natural fit. She manages our various events, coordinates the production of the Vacation Guide, and oversees the staff at our Welcome Center that services over 20,000 visitors during the summer. She’s an amazing person, a wonderful friend to Stone Harbor – perfect fit for our Chamber – and an ROA trustee as well. Additionally, we have a very helpful group at the Welcome Center who assist our visitors including long time employees Marti Conlin and Elaine Heil. These two are community icons and have become part of the whole “Stone Harbor Experience” for our guests.
Jon: What impact does the Chamber have on the Borough?
Phil: We’re not a political organization, but since we represent so many members we can contact the Borough if we have a need or an issue. Mayor and Council have provided exceptional assistance on many issues related to parking, landscaping, and coordination of events. It’s a strong working partnership that enables both the Borough and the Chamber to deliver a better resident and visitor experience – and that is our goal. The Borough’s decision to hire a part-time Tourism Director was a wise one. Our events have that small town, nostalgic feel that you just can’t find anymore and having professional management of these events is the secret to keeping them running smoothly. Visitors are always amazed at all the things that are happening here in Stone Harbor but, at the same time, how truly relaxing “down time” can be during a visit. Spending time in the Welcome Center and hearing accolades from visitors around the world who find Stone Harbor a magical place helps me keep it all in perspective; Stone Harbor is a special place to many people.
Jon: Should the ROA be more involved with the Chamber?
Phil: All of the organizations in Stone Harbor should be working together. We promote every organization in the Chamber Chatter and make the Welcome Center available as a ticket sales and collection center for community events. There is an abundance of volunteer spirit and community pride here on this island. From my first day on the job, I have been overwhelmed by the help and support I have received from Mayor and Council, the Business Community, Public Works, the Stone Harbor Police, and members of the community who pitch in where help and assistance are needed – and are glad to do it! Everyone wants to help you succeed – if you’re reading this and contemplating getting involved in one of our civic organizations – just do it!
You’ll meet many new friends while making Stone Harbor a better place. I like knowing that the ROA is representing the interests of residential property owners, while the Chamber is working to improve our business community and its relationship with our residents and visitors.
Jon: What are the 2012 objectives of the Chamber?
Phil: We’re working to complete our new website and working closely with the Borough on a new event that is being developed to replace Wings and Water. Both Stone Harbor and our sister community, Avalon, make an idyllic place to live and vacation, and our Chamber is proud to get that message out to anyone that will listen! Thanks for your interest in the Stone Harbor Chamber.
We’d like to invite every ROA member to our Welcome to Summer cocktail party, our signature event which will be in the completely new ballroom at the Windrift in early June – stay tuned for details.
Jon: Thanks, Phil. The ROA appreciates all that you do to help the businesses in Stone Harbor and to promote the Borough.