The leadership of the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce will change hands Oct. 1, as CEO, Melonie Monson, will step down from her role of leading the chamber to spend more time with her family. Monson has been with the chamber for more than seven years and has led the chamber for 6 ½ years.
“It has been a great privilege and honor to be part of this amazing organization, we have done amazing work,” Monson said. “Together, with an incredible team, we have built this organization into a well-respected chamber which has put the needs of the business community in the forefront.”
The Board of Directors decided that the best way to capitalize on the chamber’s amazing progress is to tap current COO, Vicki Wiggins, to lead the chamber going forward. Wiggins came to the chamber last year with a vast array of knowledge and experience. Her past body of work shows she is a dedicated and effective administrator with over 25 years of experience in management, fundraising events, compliance, budget and program implementation, customer service, leadership, and as an analyst.
Chairman of the Board, Dr. Randy Stovall, said, “The long list of skills Vicki brings to the table along with her training in the nonprofit sector will continue the caliber of leadership we have come to expect here at the Zephyrhills Chamber. The board of directors look forward to a seamless transition in October.”
The board knows that this change will not come without many tears and heart pulling moments.
“Melonie has been an amazing leader not only for the chamber but in the community,” Stovall said. “She is loved by all who meet and know her and is committed to making Zephyrhills a great place to live, she will be missed.”
Chamber accomplishments over the last few years have proven that the Zephyrhills Chamber is one of the strongest chambers in the state. In 2019, the chamber was awarded the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals (FACP) “Chamber Plus Certification.” The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce is only one of 16 chambers in the state to join this elite list, representing the pinnacle standards of excellence in Organization Management, Service Intent and Capacity, Professional Administration, Financial Management, and Marketing/Public Relations.
In 2020 and 2021 when many chambers shut their doors, the Zephyrhills Chamber, amped up their work and continued to lead through some of the most difficult times for businesses and community and showed a level of excellence that was seen throughout the state.
On September 24th, 2021, the chamber was awarded the FACP ‘Online CommunicationA ward’ for the amazing work they did during COVID 19 to keep local businesses at the forefront.
“When COVID hit we all believed things would get back to normal quickly, well, we soon saw this was not the case,” Monson said. “As a chamber there was no playbook as to what to do in a situation like this, but we knew we were not going to just sit back and wait to see what happened. The chamber staff brainstormed and decided we needed the public to know our businesses were still open and needed THEM. So, we quickly created the ‘JumpStart Z’Hills’ series to showcase our community.
“We started with a ‘Restaurant Recovery’ series which spotlighted more than a dozen local restaurants with videos and interviews and an interactive scavenger hunt for our citizens. We realized we had thousands engaged via social media and knew we were on to something. From there, staff kept creating new series focusing a different sectors in our community whichcontinued to make an impact in Zephyrhills.”
This level of excellence continued to be reached when Monson was awarded the Florida Certified Chamber Professional designation in 2021 from FACP, after more than five years of proven leadership. The Florida Association of Chamber Professionals also appointed her to their Board of Directors to help train and support other chambers and leaders as they strive to follow best practices as a chamber of commerce.
Monson is excited to use her experience in her new position at her family’s business, Bahr’s Propane Gas & AC. She will be working on marketing the business along with building awareness of the new Bahr’s Technical Center on Copeland Drive in Zephyrhills, which is focused on training the next generation of HVAC technicians. She will also be working as an entrepreneur in her new laser engraving business.
“I’m excited about this new adventure in life,” Monson said. “Being able to spend more time with my mother who just moved back to Zephyrhills along with my grandchildren sounds like heaven to me. I will cherish the relationships I have built here at the chamber and leave happy knowing that it is in good hands.”
At the last board meeting she informed the board, “you’ll still have me around here at the chamber…just in a new roleas a wife, daughter, mother, nana, and family supporter.”