Reece: Crystal Lake chamber hosts association fall conference

One piece of log creates a small fire, adequate to warm you up; add just a few more pieces to blast an immense bonfire, large enough to warm up your entire circle of friends; needless to say that individuality counts, but teamwork dynamites.
– Jin Kwon

The Crystal Lake Chamber hosted the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Fall Conference last week.The annual event brings together 120 or so professional chamber executives from all over Illinois for three days of learning, networking and, yes, a little fun, too.

Since I had been to previous IACCE conferences, the whole harebrained idea started with me thinking that heck yes we could do this. So I submitted a bid about two years ago and low and behold, Crystal Lake was awarded it. I’ll be the first to admit that driving back from Collinsville last year after giving a presentation promoting the conference thinking “now what!” And even though I knew what I wanted to see happen, getting there was a whole other thing. But soon a committee was formed with some peers who volunteered to help make it happen.

Effective teamwork is vital for achieving success, especially when you’re spread out, like all around the state. While the bulk of the committee was put together to bring in speakers for the breakout sessions and keynotes, they also were very instrumental in securing sponsors, marketing of the event and helping keep the conference moving along during those three days.

My whole thought was for us to show off what a great area we have around here. So to the following, some who will never see this article, much appreciation for a job very well done on making that happen:

• The Crystal Lake Holiday Inn: Great feedback from the rooms to the meals.

• The Raue Center for the Arts: Richard Kuranda, Laurie Teator and Kate Wilford – great job (as always) with the Wednesday off-site dinner. (Please pass along kudo’s to Pat McGann for a very funny show).

• Bernice Zubrzycki from 31 North Banquets and CEC Catering; two words “delicious.”

• Diana Kenny from Downtown Crystal Lake and Lynn Mitchell, Lynn Mitchell & Associates – you both were fantastic presenters!

• To each of the 17 sponsors and the three local ones, NovoPrint USA-Debbie Harr, Daily Herald Media Group and BMO Harris- Jamie Maravich. The event couldn’t happen without your support.

The Fall Conference Committee was made up of Jon Ridler, executive director of the Arlington Heights chamber; Sandy Hartough of the Wauconda chamber (and I’m pretty sure the one who enjoyed Pat McGann the most); Joe Henning, president and CEO of the Aurora chamber; and Lynn Schneider, executive director of the Buffalo Grove chamber. Also helping out was Monica Bristow, incoming IACCE chair and president of the River Bend Growth Association, as well as Michael Ayers and Mary Taylor from the IACCE.

But the three committee members who really shined were Lisa Weitzel from IACCE, Dez Bennyhoff of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon chamber and especially Jackie Ruiz, my administrative assistant at the chamber, who really took the bull by the horns to see this all through.

All during the event, comment after comment was that this was one of the best conferences held. Tom Althoff, president of the Lisle chamber, said on Friday as I was leaving, “Gary, I have been to the previous 11 fall conferences and this by far, from the off-site Wednesday to the last speaker on Friday, was the best one I have been to.”

Great committees make great teams and great teams win. This was, by all accounts, a very big win for our area.

* * *

From 5 to 7 p.m. today, the Crystal Lake Community Harvest Committee hosts an after-hours mixer at BMO Harris, 1105 S. Route 31, Crystal Lake. From 5 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 20,The Salvation Army, 290 W. Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake, is hosting its annual mixer. All Chamber members and their guests are encouraged to attend for great networking opportunities.

* * *

How would you like to showcase your business in front of 5,000 potential customers?  Well, the 2013 Crystal Lake Home & Business EXPO March 23-24 is one of the best, most cost-effective ways to do just that. Registration is going on now and 84 of the 140 booths are already sold. Don’t wait any longer – register today!

• Gary Reece is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at

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