503. Magazine: Spring 2024

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salem chamber’s magazine Spring 2024
a new program designed to spur local small-business growth LEAD Small Business Series plus CTEC’s aviation program and business spotlights
Downtown: Flexible space for meetings, events, celebrations. 15 to 1500 people Exceptional service Free parking Blink EV charging Downtown: 193 luxurious rooms Hot breakfast buffet Hi-speed Wi-Fi Free parking Dine at Bentley’s Tuesday – Saturday South Salem: 82 renovated rooms Hot breakfast buffet Hi-speed Wi-Fi 3.5 miles south of downtown Salem Easy on/off I-5 SalemConventionCenter.org GrandHotelSalem.com HotelSalemOregon.com This ad is made possible in part by funding from City of Salem Transient Occupancy Tax. meet greet stay salem

Do Personal Stories

Help or Hurt Your Business?

Telling a story is one of the oldest ways humans have of connecting with each other. When it comes to your business, how you share personal stories in public spaces, such as social media, matters. Recounting life lessons or key turning points can inspire and uplift your audience.

However, sharing your deepest or darkest experiences with an audience that involve long-time friends, employees, clients, and industry partners may negatively affect your business. How do you know which stories inspire trust and build your brand, and which you should avoid? Let’s break down how to ensure your personal brand aligns with your business.

Your Mission is Personal A personal story is different from a “confessional” story. And this distinction may help you separate what goes too far from what supports your business goals. For example, an inspiring story about overcoming an injury to win your college lacrosse competition is great, but if the focus is on your college awards or the fascinating details of your surgery, it may come across as self-absorbed or a bit out of touch.

On the other hand, when you connect overcoming obstacles to your company’s values or even your reason-for-being, it works toward creating a positive image of your business and shines a spotlight on your company’s mission.

Your Story on Social Media

Social media is a busy place, and most consumers are there for quick entertainment or the latest news. Ensure your online content sends this kind of clear message to your customers: You may trust me with your time.

• Captivating stories keep the reader engaged and invested.

• Plausible tales create a believable version of reality for the reader.

• Educational pieces encourage curiosity and further knowledge.

• Relatable content connects readers with familiar people and places.

• Memorable stories use humor, inspiration, and even shock, but never at the expense of others.

Get Personal with Customer Stories

Not every story needs to be about yourself or even your team. Your customers’ lives are a great source

of inspiration. Make sure to ask the right questions. Instead of “Would you recommend me to a friend or family,” try asking, “How is your life better now that we’ve worked together?”

1. When a client sends an email telling you about their success or posts a rave review online, follow up. Set up a time to ask more questions and gather details for your story.

2. Don’t wait until the end of the process to showcase your work. Let your audience experience what it’s like to work with you by chronicling the customer journey in real time. Take your viewers on a “test-drive,” so they may envision themselves on a similar journey in partnership with you and your company.

Telling personal stories can be a great way to humanize your brand and connect with your customers. When you ensure your stories support your business’s goals and connect with your audience, you’ll become known for what makes your business special and naturally attract your ideal clients. The Salem Chamber is proud to partner with businesses and employees across our community.

If you are not yet a member of the Salem Chamber, consider taking our organization for a “test-drive.” 503.

Spring 2024 3
4 SalemChamber.org President’s Message 6 Directors & Staff ......................... 8 Meet Chamber Events & Programming Manager: Maddie Melgard ................... 10 Aviation Program at CTEC Takes Off.......................... 12 Spotlight: Healing Motion Physical Therapy ................... 14 LEAD Small Business Series Kicks Off..................................... 16 Spotlight: Miller’s BBQ .......... 20 Spotlight: Ames Research Laboratories ............................24 Spotlight: PacificSource Health Plans .............................26 Spotlight: Northwestern Mutual ....................................... 28 Ambassador of the Quarter.. 30 @salemchamber salem_chamber @salemchamber 401 Oak St., Silverton, OR 97381 P.O. Box 927, Mount Angel, OR 97362 503.845.9499 www.mtangelpub.com 503. is published quarterly by Mt. Angel Publishing, Inc., proud Chamber member. Publisher: Paula Mabry Project Manager: Tavis Bettoli-Lotten Advertising Graphics: Steve Beckner To advertise in the next issue, contact Advertising Executive: Jerry Stevens 541.944.2820 • jerry.s@mtangelpub.com 10 1110 Commercial St. NE Salem OR 97301 503.581.1466 www.salemchamber.org TERTIARY LOGO This stacked logo is the tertiary logo option for the Salem Chamber. Utilize this option for instances where the space available is more fitting for a square orientation. the salem chamber’s magazine
Above: Ribbon cutting ceremony of CTEC’s Aviation Program at Salem Municipal Airport.
CALL TODAY TO SEE OUR DIFFERENCE CCB #15833 | WA #RICHDDC928DE 503-390-4999 www.RichDuncanConstruction.com Ron Wilson Center - Monmouth, OR
Cover: Marketing specialist Kyle Sexton presents at the first event of the Chamber’s new LEAD Small Business Series sponsored by State Farm Insurance Agent Ted Ferry.

11Bravo Creations

1525, Inc.

A+ Flagging

Ace Pressure Washing Bankers Life

Capitol Menswear

Cascade Lending

Congregations Helping People

Dickinson Consultants

Eden Homes, Inc.

EDGE Business Support Services

Edward Jones

Elvis’s Painting, LLC

Embrace Senior Advisors

Gracie’s Sweets & Treats

Hajek Heating & Cooling

Julie for Salem

King Carpet Cleaning Services, LLC

LaborMax Staffing

The Manila Fiesta Filipino Food M&G Insurance & Risk Management

Nelke Mechanical Heating & Cooling

Oregon Black Bears – AFL Team

Oregonized Chaos Coffee

Pout Facial Esthetics

Propel Insurance

Radness Ensues


Shangri-La Salem

The Small Business Guru

The Victory Group, Inc.

Windermere Heritage

Withnell Battle Creek Co., LLC

Interested in joining the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce?

For more information, contact Membership Manager Michelle Terzenbach at michelle@salemchamber.org

Come grow with us.

When you join the team at Salem Health, you become part of something bigger than yourself. We change lives every day with our commitment to Care with Respect.

All the benefits you expect from a top-tier employer, plus surprising perks for qualified candidates:

• Relocation assistance

• Public service loan forgiveness eligibility

• Education assistance

• 24/7 staff fitness center

• Discounts at our on-campus restaurant, pharmacy, and area retailers like Nike, Adidas, Carhartt and more salemhealth.org/careers

Spring 2024 5
Dec. 24, 2023 – Feb. 20, 2024
Welcome Newest Chamber Members

Remodeling Your Business?

Local Contractors Are Ready to Help You Nail It!

Thinking about saving some money on your next business remodeling project by doing the work yourself? Before you start ripping down walls and installing new fixtures, you might want to rethink whether doing your own renovation work is worth it. Unless you’re a professional contractor, chances are good this is one project you might want to leave to the experts. Here are some key questions to consider before tackling your business remodeling project by yourself.

Do You Have the Right to Remodel?

If you rent or lease the property where your business is located, chances are good that any decisions about renovations need to be made by the property manager or building owner. Performing any work on the structure could void your lease — even if you’ve clearly improved the space.

Do You Have the Time to Take on a Renovation Project?

Running a business is already a full-time job. How will you find

the time to take on a renovation project? And remember, most building improvement jobs tend to cost more, and take longer, than you expect. Are you prepared to step away from your day-to-day duties while you moonlight as a renovator?

The only exception here is if you happen to operate a seasonal business, and you’re able to do your own remodeling work during the weeks or months when your business is normally closed anyhow. In this case, you may be able to forgo your off-season vacation plans and complete some of the work yourself.

What About Liability?

Even if you’ve managed to complete some home improvement projects, doing work at your place of business involves an entirely different set of standards, regulations, and risks. Workplaces need to conform to a host of local, state, and federal laws, including the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA). Doing your own remodeling work could fall outside the terms of your

business insurance coverage, leaving you liable for any claims that arise as a result of work you’ve done — even if the work isn’t structural.

Will Doing Your Own Remodeling Really Deliver a Decent


The most common reason business owners and managers consider doing their own remodeling work is to save money, but once the liability risks, lost productivity, and sweat equity involved are considered, you may conclude that doing your own remodeling work simply doesn’t make good business sense.

Within the Salem Chamber, we have a wonderful cross-section of multi-discipline architects, contractors, and craftsmen and women who are up for the task. As you look to redefine your office or commercial space, start with the talent right here in our community, featured in the Business Directory at salemchamber.org. 503.

6 SalemChamber.org
“I give because I saw what an impact one person can have in our community.”

In 2020, a project was launched that turned empty hotels into homes for the unhoused, including people who’d lost their homes in the recent wildfires. Brian Resendez, a broker bringing hotels into the fold, was so moved by the experience that he became a donor to support organizations providing critical services to the unhoused. Thank you, Brian. Want to find the perfect match for your generosity? Oregon Community Foundation can help. Let’s get started.

Spring 2024 7

Your Chamber





WillScot Mobile Mini



VIP’s Industries

Past President LAURA DORN

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Vice President –Membership


First Commercial Real Estate


TOM HOFFERT Chief Executive Officer



Operations Director

Vice President – Advocacy



Castro Monroy Group

Vice President

– Events & Programming


Northwestern Mutual



Fischer, Hayes, Joye & Allen, LLC

Secretary BRANDON BLAIR Summit Wealth Management

DAN JOHNSON Marketing & Communications Manager

EVA PORRAS Administrative Professional

Member Services



Willamette Valley Bank


Rich Duncan Construction


Lineage Logistics


State Farm Insurance


South Town Glass


RP Smith C.P.A., P.C.

ROGER HOY Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant

DAN M c DOWELL Pioneer Trust Bank

JEFF MILLER Coldwell Banker Commercial


DPW Certified Public Accountants


QUANDRAY ROBERTSON Q’s Corner Barbershop


McLaran Leadership Foundation Program Director


Events & Programming Manager


Let’s celebrate! Ribbon Cuttings are a complimentary service the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce provides to members at the Connector level and above that have just started a new business, have moved to a new location, or recently undergone a remodel. As the business owner, you have the option of making this event as simple or as elaborate as you wish.

Be sure to fill out a request form at salemchamber.org/ ribboncuttingform to book your date now!


CHRIS SEELY Workforce Development Specialist


Saalfeld Griggs, P.C.


JIM VU Core Solutions Consulting


Huggins Insurance Services, Inc.





CTEC Business Liaisons


Greeters is the largest and most active business networking opportunity in the Salem area. Greeters is available to all Salem Area Chamber of Commerce members (and their employees). Applications are due a week from booking your date. Requests are taken on a first-come basis. Members will be put on a wait list once the calendar year is full. Members can host Greeters once in a calendar year.


8 SalemChamber.org
Old Zen Wine Bar. Leading Edge Physical Therapy, photo by Dry Humor Marketing.
Spring 2024 9 Commercial General Contractor New Construction • Tenant Improvement Design/Build • Excavation Site Work Concrete Tilt-ups • Metal Buildings Your vision. Our purpose. dalke construction co. inc. concrete • excavation • carpentry | CCB #63080 | www.dalkeconstruction.com 503-585-7403 2180 16th St. NE Salem, Oregon SINCE 1919 Gilbert House Outdoor Discovery Area Go with a name you know. Many of you know us, we’re Chris McLaran, T.J. Sullivan, and Chad Neal. We have been involved in the Salem area for years. You can expect the same care and concern that we bring to improving and protecting the Salem community is the same care and concern we will bring to protecting your household and your business. We know the Willamette Valley and are best suited to help you with all your insurance needs. Call us at 503.344.1300 or visit us at HaganHamilton.com Chris T.J. Chad

Maddie Melgard

Meet the Salem Chamber’s New Events and Programming Manager

As a longtime Salem resident, it truly feels like I am in the perfect place to grow within this community.

I was born here in Salem and feel blessed to say I am not the first in my family. As a third-generation Salemite, my family has rooted itself deeply in the growth and connection our city has to offer. As a young person growing up in Salem, I spent much of my time volunteering with Family Building Blocks, Marion Polk Food Share, and the Willamette Humane Society. It was clear to me that giving back to the community was at the forefront of my priorities, even as an adolescent.

During high school — while juggling classes, volunteering, and participating in communitybased marketing clubs — I found a deep passion for serving people. After dabbling in a few different leadership-driven customer service jobs, I decided I wanted to pursue working within local small businesses and restaurants.

This helped me create an even deeper connection with the community I was already so determined to serve. I was able to

gain a wider and deeper insight into some of the challenges and opportunities local commerce faces.

These positions led me to many incredible opportunities to plan large-scale events for some of Salem’s most popular restaurants, including my most recent role as Maître d’ at The Cozy Taberna. This position allowed me to dive deeper into consulting with guests and large groups, and to determine how to elevate experiences catered to their specific needs.

In addition to my professional skills and experience, I also bring an individualized touch to my event planning. I believe in building strong relationships with my attendees and vendors alike, listening to their needs and preferences, and always being available to address any concerns or questions. My goal is to create a stress-free and enjoyable planning process for all events, allowing guests to relax and fully enjoy the event knowing that every detail has been taken care of. Living in Salem has not only provided me with a beautiful backdrop for my events but also

a supportive community that has allowed me to grow and thrive as an event manager.

My personal cup fills each time I assist in making an everlasting impression on a group because of a successful event. I love being able to bring awareness to a particular topic or cause and celebrate all our local accomplishments.

I am pleased to step into this role as Events and Programming Manager with the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. I am thrilled to join such a driven and creative team. After years of seeing Salem celebrate its local businesses, citizens, and overall community, I am honored to continue to help recognize the success of business owners, employees, and nonprofit leaders across the region. In addition, I look forward to helping cultivate impactful experiences and programs for our business community’s growth. 503.

10 SalemChamber.org
Willamette Lutheran Retirement Community Country Setting • City Convenience • Independent Living 7693 Wheatland Rd. N • Keizer CALL FOR A TOUR TODAY – 503-393-1491 Commercial & Residential Licensed & Insured CCB# 165255 Since 1984 • Pressure Washing • Asphalt Repair • Hot Crack Filling • Striping • Seal Coating 503.362.9171 www.salemsealcoating.com Quality Asphalt Maintenance
Spring 2024 11 110 Hansen Ave S 503-990-7235 Hours: Thursday thru Tuesday, 7 to 2. Closed Wednesday. Order online and pickup. Reservations available. https://acmecafe.net/ CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF #SCRATCHMADE GOODNESS! Serving breakfast & lunch in our Neighborhood restaurant. Introducing The New FORMERLY BRIDGEWAY RECOVERY SERVICES. REBUILDING LIVES. RESTORING HOPE. A MODERN APPROACH TO RECOVERY CARE BECAUSE ALL HEALTH MATTERS. Phone: (503) 363 2021 750 Front St. NE. Salem, OR 97301 bridgewayrecovery.com Professional Installation Available Free In-Home Estimates Carpet • Tile • Laminate • Hardwood • Vinyl Slabs • Stone • Window Coverings 12 MONTH NO INTEREST * *ON APPROVED CREDIT, SEE STORE FOR DETAILS 503-371-9291 • 1110 Lancaster Dr. NE, Salem OR 97301 CCB#132473

Community Celebrates Launch of CTEC’s Aviation Program at Salem Municipal Airport

On January 29, 2024, community members and leaders representing the City of Salem, the SalemKeizer School District, Salem Municipal Airport, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, and local businesses joined the Career Technical Education Center (CTEC) to celebrate the official launch of CTEC’s new Aviation Program at the program’s facility at Salem Airport.

Led by experienced aviation instructors and boasting an impressive array of state-of-theart equipment — including drone technology, full-motion flight simulators, and aircraft maintenance tools — the program is designed to provide Salem-Keizer School District students with access to training and certifications while preparing them to enter the workforce in a high-demand and high-need aviation industry.

“I’m very passionate about providing our youth with the skills, experiences, and certifications they need to access a rewarding career,” said CTEC Principal Rhonda Rhodes

The event included speeches by Principal Rhodes; Salem Chamber CEO Tom Hoffert; Salem Mayor Chris Hoy; Salem-Keizer Public Schools Board Chair Karina Guzmán Ortiz; Congresswoman Andrea Salinas’ Field Representative for Marion, Polk & Yamhill Counties Brandon Jordan; two CTEC Aviation students, who shared their gratitude about the opportunity to participate; and Avelo Airlines COO

Greg Baden. The event concluded with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, photo opportunities, and tours led by CTEC Aviation students and staff.

The Salem Chamber is proud to be a community partner in the launch of this program and thanks all our fellow community partners and businesses for helping it take flight! 503.

12 SalemChamber.org
Salem is Moving Forward with Climate Action. To learn more: visit www.cityofsalem.net/climate-action Salem is Moving Forward with Climate Action. Building resiliency with renewable resources Creating bike and walk friendly neighborhoods near shopping and transit Supporting local food growers
Chamber CEO Tom Hoffert with CTEC Principal Rhonda Rhodes, Mayor Chris Hoy, and SKPS Board Chair Karina Guzmán Ortiz.
Spring 2024 13 For more than fifty years, Aldrich has helped Oregon businesses and individuals meet their financial goals. We’ll help you find the way Copyright © 2024 Aldrich Services LLP. All rights reserved. aldrichadvisors.com Tax, Accounting, + Audit Capital + Transactions Wealth Management Corporate Retirement Scan to learn more about Aldrich’s services What’s important to you is important to us At Ameriprise Financial, we take the time to understand what’s truly important to you. We will work with you to provide personalized advice and a diversified portfolio to help you achieve your goals. Regular reviews and digital tools can help you stay on track so you can feel more confident, connected and always in control of your financial life. Call us today to get started. Sten Carlson, CFP®, MBA, BFA™, CRPC®, CLTC®, CKA® Private Wealth Advisor Jorge Martinez, MBA, CRPC® Financial Advisor Daniel Rilling, CRPC® Financial Advisor Not FDIC or NCUA Insured No Financial Institution Guarantee | May Lose Value PacWest Wealth Partners A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC (541) 757-3000 2396 NW Kings Blvd Corvallis, OR 97370 (541) 926-4116 507 Washington St SW Albany, OR 97321 (503) 399-9498 925 Commercial St SE Salem, OR 97302 (541) 382-2354 404 Columbia St SW Bend, OR 97702 PacWestWealthPartners@ampf.com www.PacWestWealthPartners.com Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and CFP (with plaque design) in the U.S. Investment advisory products and services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser, © 2023 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.

Healing Motion Physical Therapy

With an individualized, motion-centered approach to its patients’ recovery, Healing Motion Physical Therapy’s vision is to be “the premier rehabilitation, fitness, and wellness organization in the Willamette Valley.”

And much like its patients, the small, familyowned company is making rapid progress toward its goal, as it has now opened four total clinics in the Valley (Philomath, Corvallis, Albany, and Salem) since being founded in 2005. Salem is the most recent addition to Healing Motion’s family of clinics, providing more members of our community with a pathway to healthy recovery since opening in 2022 under the leadership of Dr. Kevin Coriano, who joined Healing Motion Physical Therapy earlier that year.

With company values of “Love, Growth, and Grace” at its core, Healing Motion’s distinct characteristics include its one-on-one PT to patient care, 45-minute appointments, specialized manual therapy, and tailored rehab programs based on the patient’s needs and goals. Dr. Coriano says the clinic’s success lies in its ability for therapists to make a direct and impactful connection with each patient, without the use of intermediary aides or assistants.

After moving from Alaska to Oregon to pursue his dream of becoming a physical therapist, Dr. Coriano received his bachelor’s in health science from Corban University and then graduated from George Fox University’s School of Physical Therapy in 2020. For the next two years, he gleaned valuable in-patient treatment experience at a naturopathic clinic in Salem and then as a physical therapist. As Salem’s Clinic Manager, he loves leading his team of two PTs (including himself) and two office staff while still getting a chance to do the rewarding patient-care work that initially drew him to the healthcare field.

“I enjoy working one-on-one with people,” Dr. Coriano said. “I love helping people overcome physical obstacles so they are not defined by a diagnosis or physical injury. It brings me joy when patients tell me they returned to something they were previously limited to, due to their physical health.”

At the same time, being a small business with a small staff has presented challenges with the Salem clinic being able to acquire a consistent stream of patient referrals. Dr. Coriano says the connections the clinic continues to make with local physicians has helped, as has spreading the word about Healing Motion’s services through community networks, such as the business community within the Salem Chamber’s membership.

“As a new business in Salem, I am hoping to be involved in the community and be part of a network of local businesses helping each other grow, and provide the best services to the people of Salem and Keizer,” Dr. Coriano said about joining the Chamber.

Along with increasing community involvement, Dr. Coriano says the Healing Motion Physical Therapy’s Salem clinic hopes to grow in the coming years by adding a third and perhaps fourth therapist this year.

We are looking forward to seeing this business continue to grow and thrive in Salem! To learn more and/or make an appointment at its Salem clinic located at 631 Jason Street NE (Suite 200), visit healingmotionpt.com/salem or call 971-301-6225. 503.

14 SalemChamber.org BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
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Dr. Kevin Coriano.
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New Salem Chamber Event Series Aims to Serve SmallBusiness Growth

Designed specifically with the needs of small-business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs in mind, the Chamber’s LEAD

Small Business Series launched this February.

16 SalemChamber.org

On February 29, 2024, an energetic and diverse group of more than 40 Salem small business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs packed the Salem Chamber’s conference room for the kickoff event in a new business-development series, the LEAD (Learn, Empower, Advance, Develop) Small Business Series, graciously presented by local State Farm Insurance agent Ted Ferry

With notepads and laptops at every audience member’s table, attendees — including new business owners, active Chamber members, and experienced leaders — came poised and eager to learn from the series’ first speaker, marketing strategist Kyle Sexton, on the always timely and relevant topic of “Marketing Your Business.”

“Supporting the small-business engine in this city is not only something we’re proud of, it’s the right thing to do,” said Salem Chamber CEO Tom Hoffert in introducing the new series.

LEAD Brand Drills Down to the Core of Small Business Needs

Although the 2024 series is new to the Salem business community, some will recognize the LEAD name, as the Small Business Series comes to Salem following a successful LEAD Small Business Summit held at the Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry in October of 2023. The first event of its kind for the Chamber in several years, the Summit featured programming over two days (one presented in English, and one entirely in Spanish) with two keynote presentations each day and several breakout group session options covering topics such as "Best Practices in Retaining & Recruiting Employees" and "Financing/Access to Capital."

While the Summit succeeded in covering several key business topics over the course of a single morning, the power of the new Small Business Series’ design lies in its ability to delve deeper into areas in which many business owners need the most support. The Small Business

Spring 2024 17
LEAD speaker Kyle Sexton speaks with workshop attendees.

Series devotes 90-120 minutes to a single topic (scheduled conveniently and strategically during lunch, which is included) to give attendees plenty of practical information, tips, and tools they can implement into their business practices immediately.

Following a survey conducted amongst Chamber members, marketing and branding were identified as top business areas Salem employers and employees wanted to learn more about, especially those who had recently taken the plunge to start their own

business. With 25 years of marketing and business consulting experience — including 10-plus as the Salem Chamber’s Director of Business Development — Sexton was chosen as the ideal presenter on these topics and proved to be a hit with those fortunate enough to attend the first luncheon event in the series.

Kyle Sexton Brings the Marketing Toolkit

In conducting some initial research on the businesses that had registered for his LEAD talk, Sexton was able to assemble a marketing toolkit with tips and

strategies that could address a wide range of marketing and branding questions. What’s more, many were the same strategies that have been tested and proven to pay dividends for his clients at Mission Flow (getmissionflow.com), Sexton’s latest business development venture that offers “A sales and marketing engine for businesses on a mission!”

Here are just a few of the marketing tools Sexton brought and showed us at the LEAD Small Business Series’ kickoff event, “Marketing Your Business”:

18 SalemChamber.org 503.363.3161 Toll Free: 1.800.821.3602 1090 Commercial St. NE Salem, OR 97301 • Work Stations and Systems Furniture • Sit-to-Stand Furniture • Lobby, Conference and Break Room • Ergonomic Furniture and Accessories • Custom Design and Space Planning A Woman Owned Business #10589 www.cbfergo.com

• Employing and utilizing a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge customer loyalty, satisfaction, and engagement.

• The concept of “Inbound Selling” and how to match your selling habits with your customer’s buying habits.

• The difference between “Leads,” “Customers,” and “Promoters.”

• Pricing option strategies to generate more revenue.

What Attendees Are Saying About LEAD

With a healthy mix of marketing strategies, tips, and concepts to soak up, attendees of this first 2024 LEAD Small Business Series luncheon went home with some juicy takeaways. Here is what a few attendees had to say about Sexton and the event:

“We learned so much of what to do as a business, what not to do, and how to improve our website,” said Cynthia Lara, Co-Owner of Bison Dump Hauling & Junk Removal

“I’m not a business owner, but I can see why so many people

would want to use this,” said Leslie Bole, Assistant Branch Manager at WaFd Bank. “I got tips that I’m going to use today in the branch! I’m so excited and glad I came today.”

“Kyle is great,” said Josh Navarrete, Owner of NK Forge and Metalworks, LLC. “He touched on many things we had thought about but didn’t know how to put into words. He’s very methodical. I just loved it. I learned a lot.”

“It was absolutely phenomenal,” said Matthew Miller, Owner of Miller’s BBQ. “It [this workshop] actually justified my recent price increase, which is not breaking the bank, and I’m actually seeing better customer return because of it. So, what he’s got, it’s gold.”

To learn more about the LEAD Small Business Series, see content from past events, and details for the remainder of the 2024 calendar, visit salemchamber.org/events/ lead 503.

Next Up in the LEAD Small Business Series

The 2024 LEAD Small Business Series is rolling on with THREE MORE engaging presentations coming your way this year. Be sure to join us at the Salem Chamber on the following dates to hear about these small-business topics:

Thursday, May 30

Budgeting & Goals

Thursday, Aug. 29

Mental Health for Business Owners

Wednesday, Nov. 21 Tax Law

Note: Space is limited for the LEAD Small Business Series!

Spring 2024 Honeywood Winery offers Wine Tasting 7 days a week. Enjoy our beautiful gift shop full of fabulous wine accessories and wonderful Oregon food products. TASTING ROOM & GIFT SHOP ∑ OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK ∑ Seating available, Wine Flights, Cheese Plates, & more. Large Selection of Food & Gift Items. You Pick-We Ship!
Kyle Sexton.

Miller's BBQ

Whether it’s succulent pulled pork, a delightfully tangy coleslaw, or his signature heavenly burnt ends, chef and entrepreneur Matthew Miller truly puts his heart and soul into his product, which has continued to come with a side of glowing reviews from locals and fellow barbecue enthusiasts since he opened Miller’s BBQ in Salem in 2022.

Miller’s tagline, “The Flavor is in the Smoke,” is certainly catchy and easy to digest. But it’s the tens of thousands of mouths who have tasted the results of his slow-cooked culinary wonders that have truly helped grow the business by spreading the word. In just two years, Miller’s has expanded its BBQ catering business to a popular food truck, and, last fall, to a brickand-mortar restaurant, Miller’s BBQ & Cafe, serving everything from breakfast sandwiches and burritos to BBQ favorites and inventive coffee drinks.

Remarkably, Miller wasn’t trained by a longtime pitmaster and didn’t attempt to emulate or perfect a known regional BBQ style (Kansas City, Carolina, Texas). Instead, his self-made success story was born from discovering a passion for cooking that is driven by an even deeper passion to serve

others. The result is not only a unique and distinct product in a market without a particular barbecue identity, but a business that is just as focused on building community as it is on making great food.

“We are a business just focused on bringing hope, love, and service to our community,” Miller said. “We try our best every day to serve and provide quality products each day and with every event we do.”

Known in the Salem business community for his humility and generosity, it’s no surprise that Miller’s first professional cooking gigs came in response to the need to serve. In 2015, Miller and his wife were hired as caretakers at a camp, where Miller was enlisted to prepare the food. This is where he first encountered a Traeger wood-pellet smoker, and in experimenting with it, found a new love.

“We had a pretty simple menu, but I’d never used a smoker before,” Miller said about his job at the camp. “So, as I learned how to smoke the meat the way they wanted, but add my own twist and cuts of meat, that really began my passion for the flavor of smoked meat.”

After working on his craft with his own smoker, Miller took an opportunity to cook brisket at a 2022 event at Salem First Baptist Church for more than 500 people. While seemingly a daunting task, Miller’s confidence surged after the event’s keynote speaker — Justin Martin of Duck Dynasty fame and known BBQ lover — gave Miller a complimentary review. Later at that event, Miller met a business adviser who told him, “You have a gift,” and said he should start a business. After considering the idea for about a week and after being laid off from his previous job, Miller decided to go for it.

As word continued to spread and as catering business continued to pick up, Miller didn’t have much trouble finding clients, including everything from small private dinner parties to large-scale events. The main initial challenge for Miller’s BBQ

20 SalemChamber.org BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
Matthew Miller hosting a Chamber Greeters at Salem First Baptist Church.

was having enough space to cook large quantities of product and test new recipes. So, Miller quickly moved from cooking at home to renting a commercial kitchen, then to the truck to save on the costs of renting.

The brick-and-mortar cafe may have seemed like a logical next step considering his rapidly growing need for space. However, for Miller, opening a restaurant had been a part of his bigger-picture vision when he started catering in 2022. Realizing that dream last year not only meant he could expand the business the way he wanted to, but also that he could fulfill the ultimate mission of Miller’s BBQ in serving the community.

“One of the most fulfilling parts of operating the cafe is having a space to be able to host community events and have people gather at my table to eat, build relationships, discuss business, and plan their futures,” Miller said. “To see that I get to be a part of these life moments with my space is such an amazing thing for me.”

The location of the cafe (4600 25th Ave. N.E.) inside the Capitol City Business Center — which is also home to the Oregon Department of Human Services’ Salem Child Welfare office — is also special to Miller given his experiences growing up in the foster care system. Along with being a community gathering place, he sees the business as a symbolic beacon of hope and second chances for those striving to better themselves and their city.

“I grew up being told I would never amount to anything other than just a laborer,” Miller said. “Now that I am a business owner, I really want to help others be successful and feel empowered, because together we can all change the community in which we live and make this community a better place.”

Along with its regular involvement with the Salem

Chamber, Miller’s BBQ is an active partner with a multitude of non-profits and community efforts, including serving food to 800 homeless with Be Bold Ministries and hosting a “Holiday Bash” for foster families each December.

“For me, growing up having nothing, I know what it's like being poor and moving from home to home in the foster system,” Miller said. “I really do not want others to feel or be in the same place, so if I can support other businesses and non-profits in our community that are helping others, I want to be a business to help support them.”

With constant activity in the community, plans to launch a family-affordable fine-dining BBQ restaurant for Salem, and new secret menu items in development, the Miller’s team has plenty to be excited about. But for Miller, the daily opportunities to brighten

Top left: Miller's BBQ's two Pit Boss pellet grills; top right: Miller's proprietary barbecue sauces.

ribbon-cutting on Sept. 29, 2023.

a single moment for customers are enough to energize him.

“Every day, having the opportunity to serve people the amazing food I make, makes me happy,” Miller said. “I love the look on the faces of my customers when they eat my food for the first time. It fills my heart with joy to see the

happiness. Secondly, to be able to serve the community daily and see how my business can help and serve really excites me and gives me joy to keep going.”

To learn more about Miller’s BBQ, including menu options, visit millersbbqcatering.com 503.


22 SalemChamber.org your Community Publishing Specialists POWERBOOK 2023 / 2024 Celebrating 120 Years! Beautiful, Effective Publications 503-845-9499 Office: 401 Oak St., Silverton, OR 97381 P.O. Box 927 Mt. Angel, OR 97362 www.mtangelpub.com EXPLORE Grants Pass, Medford, Jacksonville, Ashland and more NEY S E VAL L E Y ENJOY Events • Attractions Outdoor Recreation • Wineries Art Galleries • Live Performances ROGUE VAL L E Y Publication WINTER 2023 PAGE 8 President’s Message Annual Holiday & Installation Banquet HBA’s Yard, Garden & Home Show Safety Helmets in the Workplace 14 ANOTHER ROUND OF CODE WORK Visitor Guides & Community Resources Newsletters & Trade Magazines Visitor Guide Community Profile & Business Directory and Mount Angel Jim Kinghorn • Jimages CanbyCinema8 Canby PioneerChapel PerformingArts 3rd Birch Territorial Redwood 12th 13th IsleWay Elm 1st Cedar Ash Elm 4th 19th Elm Fir 12th Vine 29th Walnut Forest 11th Teakwood 8th Oak 14th 21st Locust 13th Pepperwood Knott Manzanita Juniper Lupine Oak Hawthorne 10th Grant Teakwood 14th Holly Douglas Fir KnightsBridge 19th Lupine Juniper 3rd 13th Lupine 12th 13th 22nd 15th 14th 16th 4th 11th Larch 4th 21st 11th Noble 31st 34th Aspen 30th Larch 15th Ivy 5th 6th 37th 5th Maple 14th 14th Hawthorne 7th 13th Birch 6th Oak Dutch Vista Lupine Locust 19th Ponderosa 11th 20th 11th 7th Sycamore 14th 7th Laurelwood RIVERPARK PacificCrest Elm Locust Elm Maple Holly Ponderosa Redwood Holly 16th Fir Birch Alder Ash Hawthorne Aspen 1st 10th 9th Laurelwood RiverPark 15th 12th Cedar 6th 5th 12th Ash Plum A Aspen 5th 13th Oak 9th 11th Fir 10th 14th 5th 7th 2nd Ponderosa 15th Noble Redwood 10th 16th 6th 23rd B Ivy Maple 17th Manzanita 13th 7th Knott 12th HWY99E Juniper 14th15th 17th Riverbend 7th 16th 6th Spitz Vine 16th 19th 1st Douglas Riverlane 15th 17th Fir 10th Birch 14th 21st 6th Baker Fawver Maple Fairway 11th 13th 9th8th 2nd Holly Locust 21st 8th Dahlia 8th 2nd 9th Baker 8th Berg 20th Aspen Pine Elmwood 3rd 17th 20th Territorial 12th11th 19th 10th Locust 6th 7th Knott CovePeach Maple Riverwood Douglas Baker 31st Wilcock Tull Redwood Birch ytnuoC Cul
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Miller's BBQ & Cafe celebrates its Chamber
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Ames Research Laboratories

In a region where inclement weather is persistent, relentless, and can do excessive damage to homes and commercial properties, the Salem community is fortunate to have a company like Ames Research Laboratories call it home.

Founded by the late Dr. William Ames Curtright in the mid-1990s, Ames Research Labs is today known as a global leader in manufacturing rubberized elastomeric waterproof coatings. These maintenance coatings protect from the elements and add years of useful life to roofs, walls, basements, foundations, decks, and more.

liquid rubber coating with 1200% elasticity. Blue Max is commonly used to waterproof basement walls and floors by DIYers and contractors alike but has many other applications, including as an air barrier. The company website features an impressive before-and-after video of “The worst leaking basement I’ve ever seen.” Success stories like this, where a homeowner’s life is better because an Ames product solved a problem, fuel the passion for research and development at Ames.

three essential things the company is still guided by today:

• “Make it the Best You Can”

• “We make Maintenance Coatings. In tough economic times, people may not be able to buy new, but they will want to take care of what they have.”

• “Make the application process simple for a DIYer and a contractor.”

Following Dr. Curtright’s passing in 2019, his widow, Dama Curtright, has continued his legacy, running the company with innovation, quality control, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement at the center

Its world-renowned flagship product and top-seller, Ames Blue Max®, is a strong, highly adhesive

Dr. Curtright’s legacy was that of a true pioneer and industry trailblazer, as he invented many of the company’s best-known products and formulas. His approach to building his business included focusing on

But as a faith-based business, Ames’ company Core Values are even more deeply rooted. Based on Biblical teachings, the Core Values instilled in the company’s culture are about treating others with respect and dignity, conducting work guided by a moral compass, recognizing the gifts and talents of one another, and being accountable for one’s actions.

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President and CEO Dama Curtright and Ames' late founder, William Ames Curtright.

“We talk a lot about collaboration, and the need and benefit of collaborating,” said Chief Operations Officer Gary Pickett. “A big part of collaborating is respecting those you are working with and having an understanding of who they are and how they are contributing to the successes of the company.”

For Ames, the collaborative team culture not only leads to increased engagement internally but also an unmatched level of customer service, as Ames’ support staff encourages calls following a sale to help customers properly install and apply its products.

“We get a significant amount of call volume after the sale,” Pickett said. We tell them, ‘We want you to call. When the product arrives and you’re opening it up and you’re ready to go, we want to be able to assist. Don’t feel like once the sale is over and after you’ve paid us, we’re on to the next customer.’”

The company’s exceptional customer service and trademark

product line certainly set it apart from competitors, but its sales and marketing department and researchers have continued to differentiate Ames from others in the industry, especially when it comes to compliance with different countries’ environmental standards. Attention to these areas has helped Ames expand its global reach, as it has recently increased distribution and sales in New Zealand and Australia, is entering a licensing agreement with a distributor in South Korea, and is currently in negotiations with a company in Dubai to sell products to major contractors in the Middle East.

Embodying the company’s Core Values themselves, Pickett and Curtright credit Ames’ success in the global marketplace to their employees based in Salem. Pickett says the staff at Ames — which has grown from 14 to 19 employees in recent months — consistently engages with and gives back to the community through the company’s

Volunteer Time Off Program, which promotes community service and team-building away from the facility. Ames’ staff has participated in several community efforts recently, including donating blood platelets used in treating cancer patients, painting fire hydrants for the City of Salem, volunteering for Christmas gifting programs for the underprivileged, and collecting food donations for a local food bank, Hope Station

“We really do have a family atmosphere,” Pickett said of the company culture at Ames. “When you have a company of 20 people, everyone knows each other. We have problems, frustrations, issues, and challenges like everyone else. But there’s a real good can-do spirit of, ‘We can get through this and figure this problem out together.’ This is, without question, the first time I’ve had a job that I enjoy coming to.”

Visit amesresearch.com to learn more about the company and its industry-leading product line. 503.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES, EXPERIENCED ADVICE CHris Jones Scott Ryan Robert Bierma Gary Weston Shadya JOnes David Schacher Mindy Kaur Reuben Worster Shelley George Jeff Miller Kelsi Sands Pam Rushing Alex Rhoten Melissa ROdriguez BEN MORRIS 5 0 3 5 8 8 3 5 0 8 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
Ames' COO Gary Pickett.

PacificSource Health Plans

For 90 years, not-for-profit healthcare insurance provider PacificSource Health Plans has served the Northwest with a focus on community-building, strong local partnerships, and the well-being of its members — instead of profits.

Founded in 1933 as a healthcare insurance provider supporting the timber industry in Springfield, Oregon, PacificSource Health Plans has grown to become one of the Northwest’s most recognized and trusted names in healthcare. It’s a position PacificSource feels privileged to hold — not because of financial opportunities, but because of the opportunity to reach and support more members of our local communities.

“We are a not-for-profit organization, so there are no owners, no shareholders,” said Vice President of IT Martin Martinez. “And as a not-for-profit, our revenue is aimed at paying for the care of our members. That’s always our focus. We want to use the resources that we

have, and employees, and the revenue that we’re bringing in to make a difference in the community. That’s really what drives us.”

Over the last 15 years, the company’s executive team has executed a series of smart business moves to accelerate PacificSource’s growth, including the acquisition of Clear One Health Plans, Inc. (Bend, Oregon) in 2010. However, it’s the company’s core values that staff and members alike have truly bought into, which has helped PacificSource expand its services and its mission over time to the greater Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana).

“One of our top values is ‘Doing the Right Thing,’” Martinez said. “We coordinate for every member that is going through difficult times, whether it’s an expectant mother who is going to deal with a difficult delivery or somebody who is homeless and is dealing with a difficult, chronic condition. These folks deserve the grace and have the opportunity to get to a better place. So, we coordinate and facilitate care in many different settings.”

Another way PacificSource is making a difference here in Salem is through exceptional member service. The company’s Salem office is home to a dedicated group of member support specialists who, as part of PacificSource’s Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), coordinate a wide array of care services, including specialty care, to its members.

“We have a culture of folks who are really committed to their jobs,” Martinez said. “They show such great passion for what they’re doing.”

When it comes to determining focus areas of care, the CCO that the company is a part of utilizes a Community Needs Assessment survey to hone in on where the greatest needs are in particular localities. In Salem, the focus areas include mental health and serving our homeless population, as well as childhood health and obesity.

“We have nutritionists and wellness care consultants that are working on more of the preventative aspect of that [childhood obesity], and getting people more active,” Martinez said.

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In tackling important health issues, PacificSource believes strongly in community engagement and forming local partnerships to create solutions. One of the partnerships the company is developing in Salem is with the Salem Family YMCA to gain easy access to fitness programs for its members.

“Some of the membership in our Medicaid line of business are in a certain poverty level and they don’t always have the ability to pay for a membership [at the YMCA],” Martinez said. “So, getting them access to a trainer, or a fitness program, or just to build a sense of community where they feel supported for being more active are some of the areas we are working on here in the local community with our [healthcare] providers.”

While there may be future opportunities for growth to support other communities, Martinez says the company is currently working to strengthen existing connections with its provider partners across the Northwest, which, in turn, will bring PacificSource new opportunities to benefit the health of even more members.

“Our provider partnerships are super important,” Martinez said. “Without strong provider partnerships that are willing to engage with us in delivering the care to our members, we really don’t have a business model. So, we rely on them heavily, and we’re strengthening those relationships with our provider partners here in the Salem area. We’re excited about that because it opens up a lot of doors for the difference we can make in the community together.”

As a Salem Chamber member at the Catalyst level, PacificSource is active and involved in the Chamber’s Executive Leadership Council (ELC) group, which meets quarterly to receive updates from elected officials, local education leaders, and leadership representing Salem Health. Along with the other opportunities to connect with business leaders that the Chamber provides, Martinez said the ELC meetings have been particularly valuable to his business as PacificSource strives to continue being engaged with and informed on what’s happening locally.

“We’re building those relationships and developing an understanding of the resources available to coordinate some of the differences that need to be made,” Martinez said. “I really look at the Chamber, when I attend the council meetings for example, as an opportunity to learn more about that and to reach out to people. Being able to build relationships that will facilitate our mission is of great value. We recently partnered with Chamber members to build affordable housing for families facing adversity, and during the pandemic and wildfires, we did the same to ensure living and food security for the community.”

To learn more about PacificSource Health Plans and the coverage it offers, visit pacificsource.com 503.

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Martin Martinez, Vice President of IT at PacificSource Health Plans.


After being in business for nearly 170 years, Northwestern Mutual’s name and reputation come with the utmost credibility and trust within the financial services industry. But as a Fortune 500 company with more than five million clients nationwide, Northwestern Mutual can also be looked at as a true American business titan and a major player in our nation’s economy.

With nearly 7,000 financial advisors serving more than 360 field offices across the country, the company manages to be community-focused and relationshipdriven, even at its corporate size. Coupling these attributes with the company’s consistently top-rated service makes Northwestern Mutual attractive and comfortable for current and prospective clients.

“We've been in Oregon since 1888, so Northwestern has been around a long time,” said Matt Benjamin, Managing Director & Wealth Management Advisor. “And the reason we have lasted is we are a company that puts our clients first, which is the most important thing to me.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in business economics and his MBA with a focus on new business development from Willamette University in Salem, Benjamin has spent his entire 20-year financial advising career at Northwestern Mutual. After many years of no presence locally, he re-established the brand in 2006 here in Salem and launched the current Salem office (located at 465 Commercial St. N.E.) in 2011, quickly and exponentially growing his advisor team and client base in the years since.

Benjamin and his team have been able to provide expectational services to a variety of clients since he began with the company in 2004. His team has helped businesses and families with things like budgeting, debt management, benefits planning, insurance, and

investments. However, with his educational background in business development, a desire to make an even more meaningful community impact, and as a business owner himself — managing the Salem, Eugene, and Bend regions — Benjamin’s primary focus has shifted over the years to leading the office and serving small businesses and their families exclusively.

“I realized that when I worked with businesses, it wasn't just a one-to-one relationship, it was a one-to-many relationship,” Benjamin said. “We were able to rapidly expand our impact because we could provide more impact for the business owner, employees, and the variety of constituents within that business. It was really exciting for me to broaden my ability to serve others.”

Working closely with business clients in areas where they need it most — such as employee benefits, qualified plans, executive bonus plans, and business succession — Benjamin strives to marry the business owner’s personal financial plan to their business financial plan to create

Co nt ac t Je rr y Stevens Grow Your Business! Now selling for the Summer 2021 Edition deadline April 23 Now selling for the the salem chamber’s magazine Contact Jerry Stevens 541.944.2820 jerry.s@mtangelpub.com Grow Your Business! Summer 2024 Edition deadline April 26
Matt Benjamin, Managing Director & Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual.

the most optimal outcomes. Whether it's helping grow their business, managing it, or crafting a succession plan, Benjamin and his team approach each client with an understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing small business owners today.

“There's a different mindset when you're working with business owners,” Benjamin said. “I think the challenge becomes, we get so caught up with running our business and trying to grow that it’s hard to get into the weeds on things. It's hard to think about things like, ‘How do we create employee retention strategies?’ That's why I exist, no different than a contractor exists to help you through a construction project. So, I try to focus on those details so we can create the blueprint to your financial success.”

Helping Benjamin focus on those details on every client’s behalf is his incredible and ever-growing team of service and development professionals and advisors. While Benjamin’s territories have consistently added about 10 new advisors per year, he says this year’s goal is 20.

Benjamin is more confident than ever in his business’ future growth following the recent addition of Katya Mendez (also a Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Board Member) as his new Director of Recruiting, as she will head up adding new talent to the Northwestern Mutual team following a successful career at Mountain West Investment Corporation

Benjamin also credits his amazing team with the firm’s community efforts, which touch a variety of local organizations. These organizations include the Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Marion & Polk Counties; the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley; and the Salem Chamber as an annual hole sponsor at the McLaran Golf Classic, as well as a regular Greeters, Executive Leadership Council, and Forum Speaker Series attendee.

“I appreciate the work our team does because that's how we truly multiply ourselves to provide the level of impact that we're capable of in our communities,” Benjamin said. “The more of them, the more impact and the broader reach we have to support folks in their financial needs.”

With continued growth as a core strategy to serve even more clients in different locales, Benjamin officially partnered with Northwestern Mutual’s San Diego office this March, an ambitious move that furthers the Salem office’s stature and legacy on the national stage.

“At the end of the day, my vision is to create an enduring firm that can continue to make an impact in our community for years to come,” Benjamin said. “Our industry can be very individual at times, but collectively, it is more fun when we can all grow together and make a massive impact in the lives of those we serve. We want everyone around us to thrive.”

Visit northwesternmutual.com/financial/advisor/ matt-benjamin to learn more about this local firm and the services it provides for small businesses. 503.

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Matt Benjamin hosting Salem Chamber Greeters at Broadway Commons.

Pastor Leon Chriestenson Salem First Baptist Church

With a passion for business, but an even deeper passion for helping others and spurring community growth and well-being, Salem First Baptist Church Pastor Leon Chriestenson brings a unique perspective to his role as a Salem Chamber Ambassador. Representing the crucial intersection of faith-based organizations and the business community, Pastor Leon strives to be just as much an ambassador for the individual business owner as he does for the teachings of Christ in the Salem community.

“I pray for small businesses because I believe if the businesses thrive, the welfare of our city will flourish,” Leon said. “Everyone has different trials, challenges, and frustrations. In listening to one another, we can get through and accomplish much. I find the scriptures are full of wisdom, faith, and work. Just as a pastor is called to serve, I believe many business owners are called to serve their clients, vendors, employees, and our city. Their call is just as important as a pastor’s calling.”

As a licensed property and casualty agent for 26 years and as a former co-owner of a gift and ice cream shop in Kansas, Leon’s business background has bolstered his ability to relate with Salem businesses. However, he’s discovered his second career as a pastor often helps him connect on a deeper, spiritual level, embodied by his Salem Chamber Greeters tagline: “I don’t sell insurance anymore, I offer assurance.”

“I tell people that I am a double ambassador,” Leon said. “I’m an ambassador for Jesus Christ and

I’m an ambassador for the best chamber around. It is an honor to represent the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, to serve our business community and to encourage small business owners through words and prayer.”

Like many of our most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs, Leon took some risks in leaving his full-time position as an insurance marketing specialist at the age of 52 to pursue his calling in the ministry. After graduating from the Denver Seminary and serving churches in Colorado, he moved to Oregon at the age of 58, without a job, to work in the ministry full-time. Eventually, he found his way to Salem First Baptist, first as a member of the congregation before working toward his divine calling to serve.

“After nine months [of attending Salem First Baptist], our senior pastor, Mark Hanke, asked if I would come on part-time,” Leon said. “The next year, it was three-quarters time and the third year, full-time. This is the most rewarding position I have ever had.”

As a previous member of chambers of commerce elsewhere and after discovering Salem First Baptist was not involved with the Salem Chamber at the time, Leon saw an opportunity for the church to engage while understanding the importance of forming stronger bonds between the faith and businesses communities in Salem.

“I wanted to hear stories of what inspired our businesspeople to go into business and offer to pray for them,” Leon said about the decision to join the Salem Chamber. “I want

to keep our church connected to the business community. I have been exposed to three chambers in different states, and this is by far the best one I have been involved with.”

Along with serving as a local pastor and as a Salem Chamber Ambassador for the last few years, Leon has found other ways to support the community, including being involved with the City of Salem’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) since 2015. Leon considers his calling to serve others “an honor,” proudly representing the business and faith communities at the Salem Chamber’s weekly Greeters meetings, Forum luncheons, ribboncutting ceremonies, and signature events, such as the First Citizen Awards Banquet.

Outside of his volunteer roles and work, Leon and his wife enjoy hiking, gardening, and spending time with their five sons’ families, which includes their 11 grandchildren.

The next time you see Leon, make sure to thank him for his service to the Salem business community and congratulate him on being named the Ambassador of the Quarter! 503.

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