This fall will mark the end of an era in the Railway City as Bob Hammersley, President & CEO of the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce, has given notice that he will retire on October 31, following 33 years of dedicated service to the Chamber and to the community at large.
Hammersley notes “At September 1, I completed 33 years as the St. Thomas & District Chamber’s senior staff officer. With due consideration of personal goals and ambitions, I met with Chamber Board Chair Sean Dyke to submit notice of my intention to retire from my position as President & C.E.O. and to agree on a path that would be an acceptable transition for everyone involved in our operation and in provision of services to our Members and our community. Earlier this week, we agreed that I will retire from the Chamber effective October 31.”
Born and raised in St. Thomas, Bob Hammersley began his career in radio broadcasting as an advertising sales rep, on-air personality and then Operations Manager. After training his voice for radio, Bob then changed direction and took on the senior role with the Chamber of Commerce – the “voice of business” in our community – and he took that role on with an unbridled enthusiasm that was evident in everything the Chamber became a part in. In his time with the Chamber, Bob worked through the terms of 6 Prime Ministers, 7 Ontario Premiers and 8 St. Thomas Mayors, guided the Chamber through economic booms and busts while helping to grow the organization to the over 550 Members it has today.
After such a noteworthy career, Bob reflects that “I am enthused and proud of the work we have completed during a term that I can’t imagine lasting 33 years. When originally hired, I thought maybe 5 or 6 years would be my path. I had no idea that the challenges and opportunities within the Chamber would become almost my entire career. Thanks to the support of staff, volunteers and multiple community partners we have accomplished a great deal. There have been multiple awards earned, records set, relationships built near and far, recoveries from negative circumstances, and – most importantly – abundant opportunity to help, grow, serve and make a difference.”
The concept of community service has never been lost on Bob, as he spent significant personal time helping to grow and support the community through such local organizations as the United Way, the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Crime Stoppers, the local Workforce Planning & Development Board, the Local Immigration Partnership, Fanshawe College and dozens more.
Sean Dyke, Board Chair of the Chamber, shared his appreciation for all that Hammersley has contributed to the community “From the day I started in economic development, as a newcomer to St. Thomas 15 years ago, I knew I could count on Bob’s support for anything we needed to do to help business thrive in our community and his wealth of knowledge has been well-utilized by many over the last three decades. Today, on behalf of the entire Board, it’s my honour to congratulate Bob on a job well-done and to wish him all the best as he moves on to the next phase in his life. We as an organization are thankful for all that Bob has done to raise the profile of our Chamber with our business community and at the provincial and national levels. In his role as Chamber President & CEO, Bob became a true pillar of the community, the recognizable voice of business and a strong proponent for all of the incredible people, companies and organizations that call St. Thomas home. His voice and enthusiasm will be missed in the Chamber office, but I have a feeling he’ll continue to share that passion for community building going forward and will never cease to tell the world why he’s St. Thomas Proud.”
In the coming months, the Chamber Board will survey the membership to ensure that the organization continues to move in the right direction and will work to support the amazing staff and volunteers who make up the backbone of the Chamber in the community.
And the last word, from Bob (of course) “I look forward to continuing as an active and engaged participant in our community and humbly thank the many friends and colleagues who have made an incredible career journey possible and productive.”