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Flook the natural choice for Chamber chairman

October 17, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- When W. Christopher Motz prepared to step down last month as chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, he began the task of finding a replacement.

He knew who he was looking for - someone with integrity, a person with leadership qualities who had a commitment to the business community.

The natural choice, he said, was Brian Flook.

"In the years I have known Brian, he has proven himself to be a very dedicated individual," he said. "He's a man of character, a man who's not afraid of challenges - and with the current economic climate, there will be a lot of challenges."

So why would Flook - who is a business owner, trustee and chairman of several boards - take on more responsibilities?

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"Because I believe in the mission of the Chamber," he said. "I believe that business is the backbone of society, the backbone of America. And I also want to give back to the community."

Flook, 50, is a lifelong resident of Washington County and received his associate degree from Hagerstown Community College and his bachelor's degree in leadership development from Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W.Va. He also has a degree in business administration.

Flook is president of the Brian Flook Group and Power Management & Advertising Inc., a full-service builder marketing and consulting company, formed in 1992.

He is part-owner of Coldwell Banker Innovations LLC and has authored and co-authored several books.

"I wear many hats," he said. "This is one more."

A member of the local Chamber of Commerce for about seven years, Flook said he is looking forward to his job as chairman.

"My role, largely, is to work with the president, Brien Poffenberger, to set direction," he said. "He oversees the day-to-day operation of the chamber. My job is to work together to help push the vision of the Chamber and to be an advocate for business, which is what the organization is all about.

"We're here to provide programs and services that meet the business and professional needs of our members, while promoting efforts to make the community a great place to live and work."

When he took over the chairmanship, Flook said he immediately set three goals.

First, he said, he wants to increase membership, as well as the renewal rate.

"In this economic climate, Chamber membership is one of the things businesses often let go first," he said. "I want to stress the importance of staying involved."

Second, Flook said he wants to improve the members' perception of the Chamber.

"Some join with wrong expectations," he said. "We are not a marketing organization. That's not what we do. We're not going to send out brochures to market your business. But we do offer several marketing outlets for members, such as the Connect newsletter, e-blasts and newsletter inserts - reasonably priced tools that offer members great exposure within the membership.

"We want to be the preferred advocate and recognized voice of business in the greater Hagerstown-Washington County area."

Finally, Flook wants to see more participation of board-level members.

"If we're not a working board, what's the point," he said. "A lot of people take positions just to add to their bio. That's not the way it should be."

Flook admitted the general public might not fully understand the purpose of a Chamber of Commerce, "but that's not our audience," he said. "We're interested in the business audience knowing who we are - businesses both large and small."

Flook said there are about 600 members in the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, a number he's happy with, but would like to see grow.

"There are about 4,000 businesses in Washington County," he said. "We can do better."

Motz, president of Kaplan University, said he has every confidence Flook will do a great job as his successor and will find the position rewarding.

"I know my experience was a good one," Motz said. "The economy fell to pieces, but that caused us to be much more sensitive to the struggles of local businesses. That will continue to be the board and Chamber's focus."

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