The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) will soon be without one of its most familiar faces as General Manager, Shelley Barich prepares to retire at the end of the day on Friday, February 26th after almost 29 years with the organization.
Barich started her lengthy tenure with the Chamber in May of 1987. The late Stan Pratt, then General Manager, first hired her as the Chamber’s Secretary and Receptionist. As she gained more experience, she was entrusted with additional responsibilities, newer roles and different job titles including Executive Assistant, Membership Services Officer and later, Assistant Manager. In addition to Pratt, she also worked with Chamber General Managers, Gail Logan and Gene Nori. It was following Nori’s retirement in 2005, that she assumed the role of General Manager, herself.
In addition to changing roles, Barich’s time with the Chamber has also allowed her the opportunity to witness and help guide the agency through a number of additional transitions, both physical and operational. She has been with the Chamber through four office locations, starting when the agency was housed in Algoma’s Water Inn & Suites, then to its Bay Street location in the current Days Inn & Suites followed by several years at 489 Bay Street. In June of 2015, the agency settled into its newest home at 369 Queen Street East.
Barich notes that technology has changed the way that the Chamber does business and grins when she recalls using carbon copies to facilitate invoicing in her early days with the agency. “Technology has changed the way that we function and how we do business as an organization” she says. “The arrival of the internet changed everything from marketing and communications to needed skill sets, training and development. The Chamber has stayed abreast of technology and made investments in equipment and software, computers, laptops, an iPad, website, social media, a digital communications strategy and more recently, office function automation including online payments and online banking.”
The Chamber, which operates as a not-for-profit organization, relies heavily on the guidance of volunteers. Barich notes that “it is humbling and exciting to have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many people from the membership, the Chamber’s board of directors, its dedicated and hardworking staff, committee volunteers, past presidents, community partners, and colleagues from the Chamber network provincially and federally. It is very rewarding, insightful and inspirational to have worked with individuals that have demonstrated commitment, passion and desire… who have volunteered their time not only to help the Chamber, but also to try and make a positive difference in our business community.
Barich says, “As I reflect upon an incredible career with the Chamber, It has left me with a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation of time, what we have accomplished together as an organization and the opportunities that are before us. For me it has been a journey with so many destinations and experiences along the way. I am very proud to have served and worked for such a remarkable organization.”
SSMCOC President, Monica Dale says, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank Shelley for her loyalty and commitment to the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. We wish her all the best in her future endeavours. Her presence will certainly be missed by the Chamber family.”