Chamber hosts first business seminar
BY: Julia Bluff
Chamber hosts first business seminar Posted: Thursday, Oct 18th, 2007 BY: Julia Bluff 10-19-07
Hoping to revitalize a struggling local economy, the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce hosted its first Business Success Seminar on Monday at the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom with promises of more seminars to come in the upcoming year.
Chamber of commerce members and other interested business owners in the community enjoyed lunch, prepared by the Paso Robles Inn, while listening to motivational speeches by three highly successful businessmen with ties to the county and community. Mayor Frank Mecham, Councilman Fred Strong, members of the board of directors, including vice chair George Duck and Chip Visci, and Mayor Pro-Tem Gary Nemeth were among over 120 people in attendance at Monday’s luncheon.
The speakers at the event were what chamber CEO Mike Gibson refers to as “local boys gone big.” Aaron Steed, founder and CEO of Meathead Movers, Inc., Pat Mullen, director of government affairs at Pacific Gas and Electric, and Randy Bernard, CEO of the Professional Bull Riders, Inc., all gave short speeches to the crowd about their business philosophies.
“I believe the community retail has struggled very much economically this year,” Gibson said.
Gibson said he wanted to provide tools and tips to local businesspeople in time for the holiday season in hopes of rejuvenating the local economy.
“What I was trying to bring to this was something that was informative but at the same time was motivation,” he said.
Gibson said that it was essential that the seminar’s speakers reflected the diversity of businesses that have taken root in this area, ranging from small, locally owned businesses to large corporations. Steed founded his own business, Mullen has worked in local government as well as large corporations and Bernard came into the PBR when it was struggling and shaped it into a highly successful entity.
“This seminar is guaranteed to motivate and educate, and if [attendees] can come out with one successful tip that will help them in their career or take it into their daily life to get to the top, then we’ve achieved our goal today,” said Julie Matthews, who is in charge of marketing and communications for the chamber.
Steed, 27, was the youngest among the guest speakers present. Despite his relative youth, the business that he founded in his teens has grown to become the second largest family-owned business in San Luis Obispo County. Steed was born and raised in SLO and attended Cuesta College for a time but left to attend the demands of his growing business, Meathead Movers.
Steed and his brother Evan founded Meathead Movers in 1997, when they were still in high school as was a way of financing their expenses for the high school sports that they each played. They began hiring other school athletes to help them with larger jobs. Ten years later, Meathead Movers is the largest moving company in the tri-county, has won over 28 business awards and has offices all over the state. The company is set to keep growing with plans to open a new location in San Diego in 2009. Steed was featured in Forbes in 2005 for his business efforts.
Steed credits his success in business to his own personal values of honesty, trust, integrity and character.
“Who we are is in our personality and in our attitude and our character,” Steed said. “Nothing ever really came easy to me. For me it’s about hard work, and hard work definitely pays off.”
Mullen is an elected Trustee to SLO County Community College District and works for PG&E. At PG&E, Mullens’ work entails supporting the company’s permitting and governmental relations efforts for new generation sources, including new power plants and power contracts for traditional and renewable power sources.
Mullen boiled his success in business down to one single philosophy, which he refers to as “the three R’s,” — responsibility, resiliency and resourcefulness.
“I think that they are valuable whether you apply them to your business, your career or your personal life,” Mullen said.
Perhaps the most highly anticipated speaker of the event was Bernard, CEO of the PBR since August of 1995. Bernard, who was excited to be invited back to his home county, flew out from Ohio to speak at the event before leaving for New York the following day.
“It’s about 5,000 miles out of my way, but I made it,” Bernard said.
Bernard, who was raised in the county and attended Cal Poly, spent six years in the Marketing and Entertainment departments at the California Mid-State Fair, an event that he follows with interest to this day.
Bernard moved to Colorado 12 years ago when he was offered the job as the PBR’s first CEO. When he got there, he said he was surprised to find that the PBR had only $8,000 in the bank and over $140,000 in bills.
“I saw my office and it was a little bigger than a walk-in closet,” he said. “I had a card table for a desk, a folding chair, and a phone and I was the only employee.”
With hard work, Bernard said he has completely transformed the image and the scope of the PBR. Last year, the PBR had 184 events and has plans for 225 events in 2008. Under Bernard’s leadership, the sport has climbed up the list to being the seventh largest professional sport in the United States, up from barely breaking the top 100 in 1992. Bernard has also brought the sport of bull riding to the international front with PBR offices in Mexico, Australia, Brazil and Canada and PBR events in 85 countries around the world.
The chamber said the plan is for Monday’s seminar to be the first in a series of seminars on the same theme, tentatively planning three more for the year of 2008.
“For us, it’s simply a way of giving back to the business community,” Gibson said.
For more information contact the Chamber of Commerce at pasorobleschamber.com.