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Chamber History

In the beginning…

  • Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1987-1988
  • The Chamber was created when the Clarkston Downtown Business Association and the Business Association of Independence Township (BAIT) merged.
  • The first year, the Chamber had 42 members.

Original logo for the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce

A “Mom & Pop” Shop

  • In 1987 the Chamber was an all volunteer run organization. Initial meetings of the Chamber were held at individual member’s businesses.
  • Newsletters, membership drives and all committee work were coordinated by the volunteer President, Board of Directors and Committee chairs.  Phone and secretarial support were provided by Heather Bowles and the staff at Your Personal Secretary.
  • Board meetings were often Committees of Whole, where detail committee work was done, in addition to the organizational oversight of the Chamber.
  • During this period, Chamber Bylaws were drafted.  When issues created conflict or confusion arose, policies or procedures were drafted to address the issues.

5 Year Anniversary

Laying the Foundation

  • 1993 - Chamber moved offices to the 52-2 Court House and hired an executive director to coordinate Chamber programs and projects.
    • Leslie Meyers was the first executive director for the Chamber and worked on a part time basis.
  • Chamber Bylaws clarified the position, election cycle and job description of the Board of Directors and Chamber officers. Prior to this the Chamber Board was sometimes called the Executive Committee and could have a wide range of members invited to be “on the Board”.  At one point nearly 50 people were designated as Chamber Executive Committee members.


A fire at the 52-2 Courthouse in mid-1990’s also destroyed the Chamber offices.  Many records of the early Chamber organization were lost in the fire.

Rebuilding after the Fire

  • 1995 - Chamber offices temporarily relocated to desk space at Lighthouse Emergency Services Clarkston, in the basement of an old Church across from North Sashabaw Elementary.
    • Donna Heyniger was hired as part time secretarial support, replacing Leslie Meyers.
  • December 1995 - Chamber offices moved back into newly rebuilt Courthouse.
  • During this period the Chamber relied heavily on the leadership of the Presidents, Board of Directors and Committee chairs to drive the success of programs and projects.

An Entrepreneurial Chamber

  • 1999 - Ron Davis spearheaded several important changes that moved the Chamber away from a “Mom and Pop” organizational culture toward an “Entrepreneurial” culture.
  • The Chamber Board held its first Strategic planning session, drafted a mission statement and began ongoing work developing a vision and purpose for Chamber programs and projects.
  • The Board changed the Secretary Job title to Executive Director and office hours were extended to 9-3 Monday-Friday.
  • Ron Davis also established the Ambassadors committee and appointed a facilities committee, to look for new office space that would better meet the Chamber’s needs.
  • December 2000 - the Chamber moved into the current offices on Main St. Office hours were extended to 8-4 Monday-Friday.

Entrepreneurial to Corporate Model

  • 2000 - Chamber membership went over 400 for the first time.
  • 2003 - Chamber membership went over 500.
  • Fast paced growth and more complicated programs and projects required longer term strategic planning.
  • 2003 - Kurt Miller led the Board through the second important period of Chamber strategic organizational change.  A yearlong Bylaw review and adoption of Governing Policies, based on the John Carver model of non-profit board governance created the current corporate operating structure.

Chamber Growth

  • The Chamber’s Membership and membership value continues to grow, as does the reputation of the Chamber in other communities as a great networking Chamber that is member focused, positive and welcoming of newcomers.
  • 2005 - Chamber membership topped 600.
  • 2006 brought the first dip in overall membership numbers, though membership remained over 600.

Response to Recession

  • 2007 and 2008 - membership retention becomes more difficult as Michigan’s economy hits builders, mortgage companies and related industries.
  • 2009 - the Chamber makes several budget adjustments including reducing staff, office hours, and printed publications to align with reduced income during the recession.

Past Presidents

1987-1988 Charter President: Bruce Mercado DDS Mercado, DDS
1988-1989 Brenda Orlando CPA
1989-1990 Buck Kopietz Tierra Fine Jewelers
1990-1992 Gary Haner Superintendent at Clarkston Community Schools
1992-1993 Cathy Scott Priest First of America (Nationaly City Bank)
1993-1994 Marc Cooper The Impressive Type
1994-1995 Don Brose, Jr. Brose Electric
1995-1996 Darren Klein A Klein Co.
1996-1997 Carrol Cantor Carrol’s Flowers & Garden
1997-1998 Marc Cooper The Impressive Type
1998-1999 Wendy Halsey Mt. Zion
1999-2000 Ron Davis Lewis E. Wint & Son Funeral Home
2000-2001 Dawn Horner Clarkston State Bank
2001-2002 Fred Ritter Clarkston Auto Wash Co.
2002-2003 Kurt Miller RDM Associates
2003-2004 Tim Patterson Booth Patterson PC, Attorneys
2004-2005 Dr. Al Roberts Superintendent at Clarkston Community Schools
2005-2006 Sue Welker Law Office of Robert E. Kostin
2006-2007 Steve Hyer IGD Solutions
2007-2008 Lou Melone Smith Barney
2008-2009 Heidi Wood Genisys Credit Union
2009-2010 Johnna Struck Changing Places Moving
2010-2011 Bill Burr All Saints Cemetary
2011-2012 Donna Bullard Clarkston Brandon Community Credit Union
2012-2013 Jason T. Ryan Vision Fuel Media and Groupon
2013-2014 Kelley LaFontaine LaFontaine Automotive Group
2014-2015 Kevin Harrison KH Homes
2015-2016 Peg Roth Washington Management
2016-2017 Tim Martin Planned Financial Services
2018-2020 Emily Ford Morgan & Milzow
2020-2021 Carrie Wheeler McLaren Oakland
2021-2022 Stephen Doyle Jr. FocalPoint Coaching
2022-2023 Angie Wathen Lowrie's Landscape
2023-2024 Jennifer Barrett Comerica Bank