- Oct 23, 2015
One of the Chamber’s greatest strengths is offering members the opportunity to make new connections and build relationships with other business professionals. Below are testimonials about the experiences of two members.
The Perspective of a Non-Profit Organization
by Henry Fetta, Hunger Resource Network
Several years ago, I discovered Hunger Resource Network, a small, relatively unknown, Northbrook-based all-volunteer charitable organization committed to feeding the hungry, right in my own backyard. I enthusiastically signed up to volunteer my time to this organization that distributes chicken, canned goods and grains to over 75 area food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. What I didn’t realize was the challenge of getting our story out and how difficult it would be to build awareness about our important mission. In 2013 President Dan Jariabka and I decided to take action and join the Northbrook Chamber. We began attending networking events, and started to get involved in the organization. We quickly learned the power of the First Friday breakfasts, which allowed us to tell our story at the small table discussions. The Business After Hours offered more informal opportunities to make connections. Much sooner than we expected, people began to take an interest in helping us succeed. Chamber member Bob Caldwell referred us to Northbrook Rotary who awarded us a $1500 grant. We met Sal Manso from Reebie Moving and Storage, who provided labor and equipment for our Community Outreach Days at his expense. After getting to know us at the First Friday breakfast, Dan Gelfond produced a video for us to tell our story. In the last two years we have also tapped into the Chamber to find board members, publicists, volunteers willing to spend a Saturday hauling frozen chickens into food pantry vans in the arctic cold, and many generous sponsors and supporters of our fundraisers. We have benefitted well beyond our greatest expectations. The lessons we learned are fairly straightforward — anonymously asking for money is not an effective approach. The only real way to build awareness and garner support is by establishing relationships through networking. And no organization does that as well as the Chamber. The Chamber has been the single best marketing investment for Hunger Resource Network, yielding the highest return for our marketing dollars. I hope that Northbrook is as proud of Hunger Resource Network as those who volunteer there are. Since our founding six years ago, we’ve supplied over 1 million pounds of food, including almost 500,000 pounds of high quality protein in the form of frozen chicken, to recipient agencies at no cost to them. I look forward to sharing our story and our successes and to continue to take advantage of the Chamber’s outstanding networking opportunities.
Henry joined Hunger Resource Network in 2012 as a volunteer and is now on the Board of Directors. He recently retired after a 33 year career working for Kraft Foods in Finance. He is a sixteen year resident of Northbrook.
The Perspective of a Small Business Owner
By Scott Fine, Fine’s Restaurant and Catering
Let’s face it — I operate what most people would consider to be a really fun business. Who doesn’t smile when they see a hot dog cart? Selling food that people love — hot dogs, hamburgers, salads and other American favorites has its share of rewards. When I set up my hot dog cart at an event or even behind the scenes at my restaurant, I get to meet people who are hungry and appreciate good food! But being in this business also has its challenges. How do I get the word out about not only our restaurant, but especially our growing catering business? Fortunately, I listened when someone suggested I check out the Chamber. Early on it was very apparent that the Chamber offered great events for networking. But I also received important advice — “Keep showing up.” Even though I’ve been a Chamber member for less than a year, I can point to several examples of the power of networking and its snowball effect. Like others, my experience started at a First Friday breakfast where I met Matt Settler, a Northbrook Days organizer. He suggested I participate in the festival with a food booth, offering the potential for me to reach literally tens of thousands of current and potential customers. I then met Scott Bosley, Ensol Energy Management at the After Hours hosted by Lewis Floor and Home. He asked if I could help cater an After Hours that he planned to host (also at Lewis) showcasing his lighting products. At the July Expo, I went back to Scott and asked if he would like to sponsor the lighting for my booth at Northbrook Days. This led to a connection with the engineer for Northbrook Days, who was so impressed that he asked Scott if he might be interested in providing lighting for the entire festival next year. This is just one example of how members work together and build on each others success. I have booked numerous events, signed up to cater private parties and met new clients at literally every Chamber event I have attended. I have found the Chamber offers the best way to communicate my message of personal service and my commitment to quality. I know that my networking journey has really just begun, so I look forward to finding new ways to make new connections. It’s important — even for a fun business.