Southlake Chamber of Commerce’s new president is a man on a mission

Posted Monday, Oct. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When Mark Guilbert talks about his plans for the Southlake Chamber of Commerce, he looks forward as if imagining a white board with goals laid out in front of him.

The North Richland Hills resident who became the Chamber’s president and CEO in July, says he has big plans for the future.

“We’re putting a more entrepreneurial spin on it now,” Guilbert said. “We want to not only teach and equip others, but walk the talk.”

Guilbert said the Chamber’s volunteer board of directors has a comprehensive vision for the future. His job is to handle the day-to-day operations.

In addition to becoming a better resource, he plans to increase membership and continue to help members grow their business. To do that, he’ll offer more resources, classes and opportunities for the Chamber’s nearly 500 members.

“We want to become a preeminent resource for helping businesses succeed,” he said.

Guilbert’s office has yet to be broken in. There’s no clutter, his L-shaped desk is polished and Southlake-based publications are placed neatly on his side table. While he admits he spends a lot of his time on the telephone and email, he also spends time outside of the office.

“I try to be very accessible to the members,” he said. “So hardly a day goes by where I don’t meet with a member here, at their business, over lunch. Whatever I can do to listen to them, learn from them and help them.”

A large white notebook is laid out on his desk. At the top, he’s written “WEBSITE.” A complete redesign of the Chamber’s website with an expanded members-only section and additional training resources are top priorities.

When he is not working, the single dad likes to spend time with his three children, ages 16, 12 and 8.

With his navy suit and red tie he wears a rugged sports watch that reveals his athletic roots. He said he loves to physically challenge himself and participates in fun runs, triathlons and has recently sky dived.

The former owner and operator of a Chick-Fil-A restaurant on Kimball Road, he brings more than 30 years of business experience to his new role.

He said he left Chick-Fil-A last year and planned to start a new business at the end of 2013. In February, the board asked him to fill in as interim president and CEO. A few months into the interim role, he said he knew he was where he wants to be.

“I have a mission, not a job,” he said. “Now I feel like I have some kind of influence, no matter how big or small, in 500 businesses that are trying to grow.

“That’s a very compelling mission.”

Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770 Twitter: @dustindangli

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