by Barbara Van Reed
Mark Marzeotti wears several different hats and his newest is president of the Webster-Dudley-Oxford Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Mark officially became the president on January 8, succeeding Cheri MacKinney, after serving as its vice president.
This is a hat he will be wearing for the next two years and with it comes a mission to maintain the now-positive budget numbers and increase awareness of the Chamber's goals and functions. He hopes to increase the membership significantly.
Mark talked with us last week about the membership numbers. They have stayed basically the same in recent years, something he thinks is partly based on the economy. “If we had 200 members last year, we may have 200 this year, but 25 of them will be different: 12 may go out of business, five decide not to renew, three or four relocate, and so on.”
But there’s more to it.
Mark owns the Greenhouse Car Wash in Oxford, which he bought three years ago, and needed some help launching it. A hardware and tools sales rep by trade, this was his first time starting his own business. He wanted to differentiate his car wash from others by focusing on its green aspects: reclaimed water, solar panels and biodegradable soaps.
He had some friends in the Chamber, joined, and “quickly found out how supportive they were.” Chamber Coordinator Eleanor Houbre worked with him on the launch. “I said to her, this is what I’m thinking of doing, this is what my plan is.” She helped him get in touch with the right people and got key representatives to the site for the grand opening.
“There’s a lot of legwork involved in setting up your own business,” he said. “I don’t want people to think joining the Chamber will do it all for you. It’s a joint effort.” He talked about how he reached out to Oxford organizations, the PTO, Little League, police, and fire. “You have to get involved in the community.”
The Chamber helped with that too. “It’s a great resource for who and when to contact. “
Mark seems to be an outgoing, friendly man and was able to make Chamber connections work for him. But he acknowledged that it’s not that way for everyone.
The key to Chamber networking activity are the Business After Hours events, held frequently during the course of the year. Members get together at a local restaurant or other business and basically socialize. But that can be hard for some people, especially when other members keep to themselves and don’t reach out.
He had that happen to him just recently. “I went up to two guys talking to each other and they just ignored me,” he said.
“You you don't want to stand by yourself. You go to where you know someone. “ He admits it for himself: “I don’t like to go alone. I don’t want to be the first one to get there if I don’t know anybody.”
“It's human nature, and I don't know how to change that.”
But it’s a big issue for the membership numbers. “Even if we did get some new members, that would be a perfect reason not to rejoin.” He said the board recognizes the problem and has discussed it.
Mark's third goal for his term as president is to be “a real mouthpiece for our business members. I want to make sure the Chamber is involved in legislative issues, that our legislators perform the services our members expect.”
Now for some of those other hats he wears. Mark’s day job is vice president of sales and marketing at Disston Company, an international manufacturer of power tools and accessories headquartered in South Deerfield. His daily commute is an hour and fifteen minutes each way but, he says, at least “I’m going in the right direction, with no bumper to bumper traffic, and good cell phone service all the way, so I can still conduct business.”
Mark grew up in Saugus, met Maribeth, married, and moved to New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Chicago, where the jobs took him, before settling in Dudley 16 years ago.
He’d always wanted to have his own business, and wanted it to be a car wash, a business that didn’t need to be micromanaged. “If I can operate it successfully, with the help of retired folks for now, at some point it can be my day job.”
He and Maribeth, a realtor, also own three apartment buildings with 13 apartments in Dudley.
And finally, Mark heads up the Dudley Planning Board.
Mark's experience in business and public service should serve him well in his new role as president of the Webster-Dudley-Oxford Chamber of Commerce. We wish him success.