Under new management
Noblesville Chamber of Commerce hires new president
The Noblesville Chamber of Commerce has hired its new leader, Bob DuBois. DuBois, 50, replaces Sharon McMahon as president and CEO after she retired in March following 13 years of service.
“Noblesville is an evolving community. Our schools are growing, our business community is growing, and our local governments are growing. The chamber must grow and evolve with them,” stated chamber board chairman Dr. John Paris. “We count on Bob to bring a different point of view, new ideas, and to lead us as we evolve with our community partners.”
DuBois, a recent Noblesville resident, will begin his new role on May 5.
Public service beginnings
DuBois grew up in a small middle class family in near Albany, N.Y. His father was a teacher and school administrator and his mother was a nurse.
“We were a very modest family,” he said. “One thing my father was always preached was community involvement. He instilled in us that you have to give back to the community; you were a part of it. Public service really resonated with me.”
DuBois’ interest in serving his community and local government began at an early age. While a senior in high school, DuBois interned on the state legislator committee on education and ran for school board at age 17.
“In the end I lost and the voters made a good decision to pick someone more seasoned,” he said.
For 23 years, DuBois served as the executive director of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce in central Cape Cod, Mass. He is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute at IUPUI. DuBois is the former chairman of the Massachusetts Association of Chambers’ of Commerce Executives.
“I like the bridge between the private sector, public and local government and the chamber provides that,” he said. “It brought all three together in an interesting way. It is a perfect match for my areas of interest and over time my areas of skill.”
DuBois said each chamber is roughly the same size but has different areas of focus and ways to deal with growth.
“We (Yarmouth Chamber) were a voice for small business community an advocate, economic development and public policy development,” he said. “(Noblesville’s) local government has the ability to tackle some projects in-house that were really left to the chamber back east.”
While rapid growth began in Cape Cod in the 1980s, it started to slow in the ’90s. Conversely, Noblesville is continuing to grow and recent announcements like Terry Lee Crossing and Cabela’s are making the city a regional and national player.
“Certain types of retail development are indicators to other site selectors outside of retail that this is a community I at least need to look at. Both in and out of retail this leads to good things,” he said.
Moving to Noblesville
Dubois said the primary reasons his family moved to Noblesville was to be closer to family.
“My in-laws live across the street from us,” DuBois said. “Moving here was a conscious decision with my wife’s desire and a good place for our daughter. We visited Noblesville for 10 years and loved the community. It’s growing, young and vibrant.”
His wife, Natalie, changed careers and is now a first grade teacher at Hinkle Creek Elementary and his 13-year-old daughter, Samantha, is a student at Noblesville West Middle School. While his wife attended Anderson University to earn her teacher’s license, DuBois continued to work for the Yarmouth Chamber and commuted for two years between the two communities.
“I moved here fulltime on Oct. 1,” he said. “Never did I think there would be an opening in my new city. The city is so impressive in how this community is evolving and growing. To be a part of that is a perfect scenario. I feel blessed to have that opportunity.”
Like Noblesville Schools, DuBois is looking at how to create a 21st century chamber.
“I’m not sure exactly what that looks like but how do we look forward to the needs of the community and address them?” he said. “We want to remain a very valuable player to the business community and community in general. One thing the chamber offers is a voice for business.”
One of the biggest challenges facing Noblesville and other chambers is the millennial generation.
“How do you engage this younger generation of leaders and business owners? It will be different because how they communicate is different. I know the chamber of the future will look different than the chamber of today. I’m really intrigued on finding out exactly what that is,” he said.
DuBois said his research states there are more than 2,000 businesses in Noblesville and 60 percent have one to four employees.
“Some turn into 10 to 20 employees and grow. We want to help those that need and want to grow to grow. We also need to pay careful attention to those anchor businesses and make sure they are real satisfied with Noblesville,” he said. “You don’t want people growing up and out of your community.”
DuBois said his short-term goals are to look at all of the chamber’s systems, processes and programs that it offers and figure out where there are opportunities for enhancement and what might be missing.
“It will take months – not years – to digest, dissect, massage and prioritize it and figure out where we can strategically spend time and resources to make an impact and then communicate that with the community,” he said. “My goal is to get out to all the key chamber volunteers and investors, large employers, small employers, folks on Main Street, over the next several months. You’ll find me in the office very little. You can’t serve the community if you don’t understand it.”
Meet Bob DuBois
Birthplace: Albany, N.Y.
Family: Wife, Natalie, and daughter, Samantha.
Hobbies: “I really enjoy working – yard work and working around the house, spending time with family and I love reading.”
What’s he reading? DuBois is currently reading “Inferno” by Dan Brown and just finished “John Adams” by David McCollough. “I love a good historical biography,” he said.