July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Business beat: A bittersweet opportunity

Staff Writer

Beth Workman is leaving her position as CEO of the Wadsworth Chamber of Commerce, but she won’t be going far.

On Monday, Workman, 50, will take up as a human-resources representative for Soprema USA, a Wadsworth Chamber member and maker of roofing products

She said the opportunity came to her when Steve Goetz, Soprema’s chief financial officer, contacted her for assistance in filling the HR position. “We were kind of joking and he said, ‘We are looking for a Beth Workman,’ ” she said.

Workman later contacted Goetz and told him she was interested in filling the position herself.

After 15 years as CEO of the Wadsworth Chamber of Commerce, Beth Workman is leaving to take a human-resources position with roofing products maker Soprema USA. Workman describes her departure as bittersweet but said the job with chamber member Soprema came about suddenly and is a nice fit. (Andrew Dolph | Staff Photographer)

“I just kept thinking … this is the time to make that change. And I couldn’t see a better change than going with somebody that’s been a member of this chamber,” she explained. “It was just a nice fit. And it just fell into my lap.”

Workman started at the Chamber in 1993 after she left a community relations position with Coors in Charlotte, N.C. She said she had wanted to return to Wadsworth, the town where she had lived prior to her time with Coors.

She and her husband Greg raised their two children — Adam, 21, and Nicholas, 12 — in Wadsworth. “We’re townies,” she joked. “We’re community people, and we love it here.”

Workman said her biggest accomplishments since becoming CEO of the chamber involve meeting the needs of area businesses. “It’s when you have that small, little company who’s having a hard time networking with somebody else. … It’s finding that fit for them,” she said.

On April 21, Workman informed the chamber’s board she would be leaving.

“We will dearly miss Beth. She’s been a great business leader and an outstanding person,” chamber board President Dale Fortner said. “It’s a bittersweet moment for us because we’re losing such a quality individual but we are happy for her and happy that she will still be here in town.”

Workman, too, described her departure as bittersweet.

“Pretty much, (the chamber) has been my life since I moved back to Wadsworth in (1993). So it’s going to be bittersweet,” she said. “But it’s always nice to have new, fresh ideas. Maybe (by having a new CEO) everybody piggy-backs and learns off each other so it can be a really great situation for everybody.”

The chamber’s board advertised the opening with the Akron, Medina and Brunswick chambers and with the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Ohio’s Web site.

Finding applicants, Workman said, will not be too hard. “This is a job that everybody would love to have because you have that variety, you have that fun, you have those relationships, and you have a job to get done,” she said.

The chamber’s board is requesting résumés be mailed to Fortner, who is also Wadsworth City School District’s superintendent.

Workman said she will take part in the steering committee that will appoint the CEO. And even once the position is filled, she said, her job with the chamber will not be done.

She explained that Soprema USA has offered her some flexibility in allowing her to work with the chamber occasionally. “I know that they’re willing to let me kind of help and guide when needed” at the chamber, Workman said.

She said the person replacing her will have to be a “jack of all trades” — working with economic development and city officials, planning events and working with networking.

“This person definitely has to be someone who’s energetic, someone who’s not afraid to get involved in things,” she said. “And it has to be somebody who loves Wadsworth and really cares where this city is going.”

Shop Medina
This weekend the Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce will sponsor its third “Shop Medina! Showcase.”

Hosted at the Medina Community Recreation Center’s field house, 855 Weymouth Road, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the showcase will spotlight more than 45 area businesses.

“They’re all consumer-based businesses, so they’re people that would be dealing with the general public,” explained Tina Gienger, events coordinator for the chamber. She said everything from chiropractors to martial arts studios to restaurants offering free food samples will staff booths at the event.

“The idea is to give the vendors an opportunity to showcase their business to the general public,” Gienger said.

Best promoter
Jack Ollom, interim executive director of the Downtown Wadsworth program, said of all the many downtowns that promoted themselves and their businesses last year, Wadsworth was chosen as the best promoter in Ohio.

On May 8, Heritage Ohio — a statewide downtown preservation and revitalization group — will honor Downtown Wadsworth with Ohio’s Best Downtown Promotion Award.

Downtown Wadsworth was nominated by member Joseph J. Arpad.

Ollom said he thinks Wadsworth believes it was chosen because of “sheer volume. We do 10 or 11 major events each year,” he said. Such events include the Scare on the Square in October, the Candlelight Walk in December and the Three-on-Three Basketball Tournament in July.

Ollom said creating awareness is one of the most important parts of the events. “Basically we have a community that is relatively new and everybody gets their information differently. So it’s very difficult to reach a lot of people with the same message,” he said.

Oz2 Design Group, which Ollom owns, created the numerous events’ marketing materials — which ranged from flyers, banners and mailers that were sent home with local students.

The award will be presented in Bowling Green next week. Arpad and Jim Cordas, chair of Downtown Wadsworth’s Promotion Committee, plan to attend.

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or business@ohio.net.