Running Hard to Keep Members First
A man in perpetual motion.
That is what you’ll see when you go to an event conducted by Dale Perrin of the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce (LZACC). Sometimes the man-in-charge discretely signals to a chamber leader at the speaker’s podium. Then he circles back to the team handling the registration table. Pretty soon he is checking in with small groups of business owners trading war stories. Then he transitions to give instructions to the venue staff.
Since April of 2003, Perrin has been the LZACC’s Executive Director, quietly, humbly and confidently steering the group to a position of prominence as a go-to business organization serving the communities of Lake Zurich, North Barrington, Hawthorn Woods, Long Grove, Kildeer and Deer Park.
A native of Sugar Grove, and a Radio & TV graduate from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, Perrin is a fixture in the community, as well as the father of daughter Meredith, in middle school. Like many careers, his path to LZACC took a crooked course from college downstate to Oklahoma and Wisconsin before arriving in Lake Zurich. That journey – whether managing programs for the National Junior Chamber of Commerce or running a fitness store – prepared him well to perform the juggling act necessary to direct a growing chamber of nearly 500 companies.
“The best part of working at the chamber is the diversity of the job, both in the tasks that we perform and the many different people we meet and work with,” Perrin shared recently over lunch. “One day I could be in Springfield meeting with elected officials. The next day I might be having a casual conversation over a beer with a new business owner at one of our frequent networking events.”
For the uninitiated, a chamber of commerce is both an advocate and a service organization for local businesses. Chambers are a venue through which business professionals can take effective action to help a community progress.
“We work on things both big and small,” Perrin says. “This includes major action, such as attracting development, to simpler things like advocating for a minor change to a local ordinance to help businesses.”
A few years ago LZACC earned a distinction it shares with fewer than one-in-ten chambers nationally. “In 2013, we earned accreditation by the U.S. Chamber,” Perrin explains. “Only 7% of all chambers receive accreditation.” To become accredited a chamber undergoes scrutiny in eight different areas, including Organizational Governance, Finances, Human Resources, Government Affairs, Program Development, Technology, Communication & Marketing, and Facilities. Only six other chambers in Illinois have achieved accreditation. “We are extremely proud to say we are an Accredited Chamber,” Perrin adds.
So what’s on the horizon? “Our goal is to be in the 700 – 800 member range within the next five years,” Perrin says. To reach this goal, the chamber will need to “continue to develop new and innovative programs and offer services to our members and the communities we serve.”
Based on what has happened at the chamber over the last 13 years, you can bet Perrin will remain in motion until the goal is reached.
The Lake Zurich Area Chamber office is at 444 S. Rand Rd., Lake Zurich. Learn more by visiting LZAreaChamber.com. Michael Beightol is an area marketing consultant who recently took on new responsibilities for SW Lake Lifestyle Magazine. Feel free to reach him directly at 312.339.0055 or via SWLakeLifestyle.com.