For the past year, Jeff Garrett has been acting as the vice chairman of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce. But with September here, he begins his term as the new board chairman.
With a background in both engineering and law, Garrett sees several ways that his skills can translate into leading and guiding the board for the next year.
“I hope that they give me the tools to be analytical,” Garrett said. Leading the board, analyzing the budget, and solving problems, all things that being a lawyer and an engineer do regularly.
After getting a bachelors degree in engineering from Texas A&M University, Garrett went to South Texas College of Law for law school. He still has his engineering license and is a member of the Texas bar. He lived and worked in The Woodlands for several years, and still lives nearby. He is currently the assistant general council at Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., dealing in intellectual property law. His work at the company has given him the opportunity to do business deals all over the world.
Garrett started with the chamber in 2005 when he participated in the Leadership Montgomery county program, which introduced program participants to different aspects of the local economy and community once a month. He joined the chamber board a few years later to finish out a term for another member who left early. He came back as a board member for a full term and co-chaired the Economic Outlook Conference.
“I know Jeff is going to do a great job,” said Stuart Lapp, outgoing chamber board chairman. “That’s the thing about the fact that the chairmanship rotates every year, each person who comes in comes in with a different skill set, different ideas and different ways of relating to people and managing and dealing with difficult issues. Jeff is uniquely qualified for the position. I’ve seen him throughout this year as vice chairman really get engaged and I’m looking forward to what he’s going to bring to the table as chairman.”
Lapp’s advice to his successor is simple: Be yourself.
During his time as chair, Lapp saw The Woodlands chamber band together with other area chambers to advocate and plan as a coalition, even heading to Austin to lobby together for local economic issues with the state government. He hopes this coalition work will continue in the future.
Garrett’s goals as chairman are focused: member retention and revenue generation. The chamber, he said, works hard to connect members the old-fashioned way, in person. But he wants to continue seeing the chamber utilize technology and social media to accomplish these goals as well.
“A lot of businesses can communicate and advertise and even network through social media, and the chamber does a really good job of allowing the human connection with its members,” Garrett said. “The chamber allows you to get out and gives you those opportunities to meet others, network, and connect the dots in the community.”
The role of the chairman, in Garrett’s view, is to provide leadership to the board, to get opinions of the board members, to facilitate discussions around issues, and to help generate consensus from the board.
Garrett has been part of the chamber’s efforts for strategic future planning and is excited to see the results of these efforts come to fruition. So far, the planning has identified some key issues to tackle including membership retention, workforce development, water, and transportation.
“It’s really allowing a nice, sharp focus on what the issues are and a plan to address them going forward,” Garrett said.
At the next board meeting on Sept. 27 the chamber will reveal a new logo and a new website, just some of the efforts to keep the chamber up to date and engaged.