Chamber of Commerce installs 2018 officers, graduates Leadership class

Lance Shearer

Being the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce’s first two-year president meant that Alex Parker III got a little something extra late in his tenure – Hurricane Irma.  

Saturday evening, Parker passed the gavel, and leadership of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, to incoming president Donald Erik Condee, during a dinner and installation ceremony at the Marco Island Yacht Club. With island merchants already busily engaged in handling peak season, Marco Island’s economy and visitorship took a hit last year compared to 2016, although overall, most would agree that Marco dodged a bullet with Irma, and the aftermath could have been much worse.

Outgoing president Alex Parker, left, gets congratulations from new chamber president Erik Condee. The Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce held its installation of the 2018 slate of officers and directors, and graduation ceremony for the Leadership Marco class of 2017, Saturday evening at the Marco Island Yacht Club.

“We’ve all been busy cleaning up,” Parker said, adding to a laugh from the crowd that “a lot of us would really like to be in the roofing business.” He heads a home-building firm, and Condee is vice president and operations coordinator of Condee Cooling and Electric, Inc.

Parker told how the late Dick Shanahan convinced him to take on the presidency, saying “there’s nothing to it, just a few ribbon cuttings, a few meetings to attend – I very rapidly found out what a good salesman Dick Shanahan was.”

While numbers of visitors and new members were down a little, and even hits on the chamber’s website took a hit, Parker noted that the amount given in scholarships to local students had remained constant, the new concept of a junior leadership class had been introduced, and the chamber hosted 4,625 visitors from 20 different countries.

“It’s an amazing place, folks, and we get to live here,” he said, sounding chamber of commerce to the core.

His time as president also coincided with a major change in his own life, he added, with “a beautiful woman who walked into my life,” acknowledging his new wife Janet. “You can’t turn back the hands of a clock,” he told the group, “but you can sure wind it up.”

When Parker passed the gavel to Condee, Erik revealed that he, too, is taking a matrimonial plunge, set to wed longtime girlfriend “my lovely Catalina” at the end of March. So maybe serving as chamber president could take the place of matchmaking sites.

A man of fewer words than Parker, Condee did point out that the chamber’s name says “Marco Island area” and said he would focus on recruiting businesses near but not on the island.

“There’s a lot of development coming down the 951 turnpike. I would like to cooperate with those businesses,” said Condee. As to being chamber president, he said Parker had assured him, “there’s nothing to it – just a few meetings and ribbon cuttings.”

Before handing over the gavel, Parker thanked chamber staff and volunteers, and formally graduated the Leadership Marco class of 2017. County Commissioner Donna Fiala then swore in the chamber’s new officers or executive committee, and the board of directors.

Local dignitaries attending, included along with Fiala, City Manager Lee Niblock, City Councilors Bob Brown, Larry Honig, and Chairman Jared Grifoni with his 9-month pregnant wife Elsa, Police Chief Al Schettino and Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy.

After dinner and the official business, the room lights were dimmed, and the party animals danced to the DJ stylings of Steve Reynolds.

The new executive committee, in addition to Condee, includes Parker as immediate past president, Richard Siegel as president-elect, Dan Collardey as secretary, and Laura Gelman as treasurer.

The chamber board of directors for 2018 includes Susan Ackerson, William Holmes, Tiffany Homuth, David Hyatt, Jacquie Koon, Patrick Neale, Betsy Novakovich, Rick Popoff, Mary Quinton, Laura Schneider, Dr. Richard Siegel, Sandi Sims-Ramage, Neil Snyder, Valerie Simon and Lori Wagor.

The 2017 Leadership Marco graduating class members are Mohammed Ahmed, David Batiato, Stefan Bolsen, Wanda Burson, Lisa Conley, Heather Hall, Samantha Kopren, Thomas Mann, Kaitlen Madglener, Megan McShane, Sue Olzak, Dr. Gerald Swiacki, and Abby Yetter.