Incoming Chamber chair focuses on member ROI


Snapshot: Tim Vaughn

Title: Incoming Chairman Cabarrus Chamber

Day job: General manager of Hilbish Ford, Kannapolis

Lives in: Kannapolis

Family: Wife Gail Vaughn, two grown children

Volunteer boards: Kannapolis Education Foundation Board, Cabarrus Arts Council Board, former board member of Habitat Cabarrus County

Tim Vaughn, the general manager of Hilbish Ford in Kannapolis, takes over the volunteer reins of the Cabarrus Chamber of Commerce in 2016.

A 31-year veteran of the automotive business, Vaugn said he is excited by the challenge of helping to steer the 650-member chamber. It’s a big job.

When the current chamber chair, Tammy Whaley, began her term almost a year ago, there were 760 members.

Chief among Vaughn’s goals in the coming year is stabilizing membership. Part of that is realizing “that we cannot be all things to all people.”

He also want the chamber to facilitate members growing business to business relationships with other members, as well as make it easy for members to see the value of the chamber membership to their business, such as the Leadership Cabarrus Program.

Vaughn will work closely with chamber CEO Patrick Coughlin, works with local economic development organizations, the N.C. Department of Commerce and various site consultants to help recruit new capital investment and jobs.

The chamber business has morphed and changed over the years the wake of the departure of county mainstays like First Charter, Philip Morris and Pillowtex. Before the recession, the chamber roster was upwards of 1,000 members.

With Alevo coming online, hopes are that Cabarrus’ small- and mid-size business community is on the comeback trail. Of course, outposts of big national and international companies are thriving in Cabarrus, thanks to excellent infrastructure and proximity to Charlotte. They’re not the backbone of a traditional chamber, however.

Vaughn says the current roster of 650 members could go up—or down. “It may grow or it actually may shrink some,” Vaughn says.

Born Birmingham, Ala., Vaughn spent his formative years in New Orleans. He earned a BS in management from Tulane University and completed the Executive Education program at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business. He also served five years as an officer in the U.S. Army.

The business of the chamber is different now compared to a few years ago, and it continues to change.

“A few years ago we were trying to move back into the growth mode from the survival mode. Now we are showing members what a great return on investment the Chamber is through B2B and networking opportunities,” Vaughn says.

He says there are opportunities, too, for growth. Existing business shifting back into the growth mode and are more ready to open their purse strings.

“Cabarrus is growing and it is important to connect with new business enterprises coming to the area and immerse them immediately in all of the benefits come with Chamber membership,” Vaughn says.


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