Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:21 pm
Menomonee Falls Chamber of Commerce executive director Reed Kammerer will be retiring from his position at the end of this year. Kammerer has been the chamber’s executive director since 1980.
Kammerer came to Menomonee Falls from Beloit, where he was the marketing director for the Beloit State Bank. Kammerer stated his first full-time job after high school was as a barber, a role he held for 12 years. “I guess that’s where I really learned to be a people person,” he said.
Kammerer stated when he first saw the ad about the executive director’s job opening, he thought it would be great to sell and promote a community rather than banking services, and to live in northern Wisconsin where he could enjoy his hobby of fishing, every day. What he didn’t realize was that Menomonee Falls was in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, not northern Wisconsin. To make a long story shorter, Kammerer stated, “When I arrived in Menomonee Falls for my first interview, I fell in love with the community, its businesses, its schools, its government, and its people, and have been that way ever since, and I even found some great fishing lakes nearby.”
During Kammerer’s 21 years as executive director, the chamber’s membership has grown from about 180 businesses to more than 400. “We had a budget, in the early 1980s, of around $65,000; we are now more than $190,000.” The chamber office, when Kammerer arrived in 1980, was a small, two-room office above the old Post Office on Appleton Avenue. Kammerer said. “At that time, it was just a part-time secretary, one other person who worked a few days a month to do the accounting and write checks, and me.” He noted that since that time, the chamber has moved four times and is now housed in the restored Koehler-Zahn House.
Kammerer stated that one of his first challenges when he started the job was to provide a stable financial footing for the chamber. “There were times in the early years when bank financing was necessary to meet our obligations. Through some successfully planned programs and events, we were able to become financially stable and establish a reserve account.”
“One of the major income projects in my first year,” Kammerer stated, “were bingo nights, held twice each month for nearly two years. As I think back, those nights were a lot of fun, but I remember the hard times, too, doing it twice a month.”
Kammerer said, “I learned early on that the success and growth of the chamber depended upon a number of things – a knowledgeable and hard-working staff, great volunteers, trying new things, a strong board of directors, and always offering programs that truly benefited our business members’ needs, knowing that you can’t be everything to everyone and, I guess, in the end, having fun.”
Kammerer also stated, “I was asked if there was anything I may have done differently as executive director of the chamber, perhaps I should have been more vocal or heavily marketed the chamber’s accomplishments. Very often we were a silent partner in many successful projects: the establishment of the Downtown Business Improvement District, the Village Centre, the Greater Menomonee Falls Committee, freeway signs identifying Menomonee Falls and its various exits into our village, the location of the present Post Office, and the formation of the Community Development Authority, all of which continue to have a positive impact on the growth and well being of our community.”
Marty Schallock, president of the Chamber of Commerce, stated, “When people think of the Chamber of Commerce, Reed Kammerer comes to mind immediately. He was truly dedicated to making our chamber the best there is – Reed will be sorely missed.”
April 27, 2001 Small Business Times