Friday, April 15, 2011

Historically, Otsego Chamber Honorees Are Leaders Who Bring All Together

In the past few months, a divergence on whether to oppose the questionable horizontal hydrofracking method of extracting natural gas from beneath Otsego County split our two chambers.
The Cooperstown Chamber, representing tourism interests and two breweries, has taken a lead in objecting to the heavy traffic, scenic degradation and watershed contamination that might result from such natural-gas drilling.  The county chamber, more heavily represented in Oneonta, which depends more on manufacturing and higher education, has held back.
The issue starkly suggests that perhaps there is an insufficient consensus within the county business community to be served by a single chamber, despite the benefits that might be gained by sharing back-office functions, promotion and the like.
Then, once again, along comes the Otsego County Chamber’s Annual Dinner & Celebration of Business, and we find ourselves united again in appreciation of outstanding honorees. 
Distinguished Citizen honoree Erna Morgan McReynolds, and Tom Armao and Scott Davis, proprietors of this year’s Distinguished Business, Country Club Automotive Group, continue to demonstrate the combination of long-term business success and community service that characterizes so many of those on the list to the right of this editorial.
Referring to Bill Davis, who sold Country Club to the two partners in 2009, Armao said, “Bill impressed on all of us the importance of the community to those of us in business.   We take care of them, and they take care of us.”
McReynolds and the Country Club group have been involved in community organizations as varied at the hospitals, the colleges, the Girl Scouts, the Little League and the Catskill Symphony Orchestra.
But perhaps the greatest service they perform for the community is doing their jobs and running their businesses exceptionally.
Erna McReynolds, a former eminent broadcast journalist and producer, found that listening skills, curiosity and general affection for people served her well as she rose to managing director, wealth management at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s local office.
Armao learned that doing the right thing systematically pays dividends.  And Scott Davis, while running Rent-A-Wreck, making sure car radios were set on the frequency he knew repeat customers listened to – that’s just amazing attention to detail.
But, looking at that list, there are many exceptional business people among us with as good and better stories to tell.
Gordon Roberts, who passed away just a few months ago.  Jane Forbes Clark and Ed Stack, her right-hand person for years.  Judge Harlem, whose intervention saved Goodyear Lake when NYSEG wanted to breach the dam.  Bill Streck, architect of Bassett’s miraculous reach.  Dave Brenner, politician and university leader par excellence.
Impressive indeed.

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