The Spring-Ford Chamber of Commerce held a special lunch at Spring Hollow Golf Club on Thursday afternoon to celebrate 20 years in existence. The Chamber, as described by former board President Joe St. Pedro, was originally formed as a branch of another chamber, but after a $9,000 fundraising effort one year, the branch decided to become its own entity - leading the Spring-Ford area to business- and community-oriented prosperity.
In attendance were 88 people, ranging from Senator John Rafferty, Limerick Township Manager Dan Kerr, Spring City Mayor Michael Weiss and representatives from 58 businesses.
Helping to set up the event were Erin Cohen, Ronnie FitzPatrick, Joe Giunta, Beth Hiriak, Bethany Holsendorff, Maria Peet of the Chamber, Mike Stopyra, Tom Thunstrom, Phil White and John Young.
"I think this event was really good, because it's a chance for us to honor the Chamber, the people who have put it together over the past 20 years," Thunstrom said. "We have a lot of faces of the past and present. We're looking ahead to many more years of success, I think. The Chamber's in a good spot and it should continue to grow."
Holsendorff, who is the vice president of Harleysville Savings Bank, and Giunta, who is the vice president of Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust, were honored to represent their banks as sponsors for the Chamber lunch.
"The Spring-Ford Chamber is different from other chambers," Holsendorff said. "It's more like a family. So, when I joined, they introduced me to a lot of the local businesses. It's an honor to be able to sponsor the chamber for their 20th anniversary. I'm excited to be here."
Harleysville Savings Bank is a small community bank located in Harleysville and five other locations in Montgomery County and one in Bucks County. The bank focuses on customer service and knowing its customers by name. Giunta was also happy to be a sponsor, explaining his bank also ties 10 percent of the profits it makes to local charities and non-profits.
"I've been involved since the beginning," Giunta said, who served as president in 1993. "Today is a terrific experience, knowing there's 80 people who found time in their day to come out here to be a part of this event. It shows our Chamber is alive and viable. Phoenixville Federal is very proud to be a part of the Chamber. We're celebrating our 100th year in existence this year."
The Chamber welcomed 38 new members in 2011.
The Spring-Ford Chamber of Commerce also named St. Pedro and Associates as its outstanding business member of the past 20 years.
"Over the years the president and vice president of this business have demonstrated their talents in sales, organization, and leadership along with a passion for helping others," said Giunta, a board member. "Thankfully, it has been the Spring Ford Chamber of Commerce that has been one of the primary recipients of these talents. Whenever they saw a need within the Chamber or the community, these gentlemen stepped up to not only lend a hand, but to lead and encourage others to follow."
St. Pedro and Associates, headquartered in Royersford, is a full-service and independent financial planning firm. Founded in 1984, it provides investment, wealth, risk and cash management services, as well as tax and estate planning. Joe St. Pedro, president of St. Pedro and Associates, joined the Spring Ford Chamber of Commerce in 1991 and served as the Chamber’s fourth president in 1994 and in 1995. It was under his leadership that the Spring-Ford Chamber saw its greatest growth in membership. St. Pedro was responsible for about 60 percent of that growth. St. Pedro remains very involved in his community and is presently serving on the Limerick Township Board of Supervisors.
Rick Storms, vice president of St .Pedro and Associates followed in his father’s footsteps serving three terms as president of the Chamber. Rick was a member of the board of directors for may years. Rick also undertook the responsibilities of treasurer. His abilities as a superior financial planner resulted in the establishment of a viable budget.
"Today, our Chamber can boast a positive cash balance and no debt, and we owe it in no small measure to the help and guidance of Rick Storms," Giunta said.
Also recognized and thanked at the lunch were outgoing board members Phil White of Signarama, Royersford, Mike Lamirande of Walgreens, Limerick and Brad Goodrich of Goodrich Business Services.
Newly elected to the board are Shirlee Barlow, Columbia Cottage; Cristina Mentzer, Paychex; Tom Thunstrom, Penn Liberty Bank; and John Young, Trivent Financial.
The officers for 2012 are Noel Billingsley, Victory Bank, president; Marc Umstead, Comp-U-Ship, vice president; Mark Greenberg, Minuteman Press, treasurer; Gail Wellington, Three Peas in a Pod Florist, secretary. Other board members are Ronnie Fitzpatrick, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Jim Ginetti, XPO Business Equipment; Joe Giunta, Phoenixville Federal Bank, Beth Hiriak, EAB Communications; Pat Nugent, Spring-Ford School District; Steve Oehlert, Oehlert Brothers Heating and Cooling; Rick Storms, St. Pedro & Associates.
Joan Giunta was also honored for her many volunteer hours in the Chamber.
The Spring-Ford Chamber of Commerce serves the business community principally within the Spring-Ford School District’s geographic footprint. The mission of the organization of approximately 200 members is to provide leadership for business by building relationships which promote the progress and prosperity of its members and the community. They hold a Business Expo at Limerick Community Day and host a Spaghetti Dinner which funds the three scholarships is awards annually to local high school seniors.
This year the Chamber is conducting its first Business-to-Business Expo on March 14. The group meets monthly on the third Thursday of the month. For more information, visit the Spring-Ford Chamber web site, www.springfordchamber.com.
This article also contains written contributions from Gail Wellington of the Spring-Ford Chamber of Commerce.