Welcome New September 2020 Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 10 new business members in the month of September. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the links below.

BioPure Plano / Frisco
Glazer Financial Network
Lane Gorman Trubitt, LLC
Mama’s Daughter’s Diner
Mayer LLP
Presto Courier, LLC
Red Mountain Weight Loss
Underwood Law Office, Inc.
Upwork
VR Local Global Corporation

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact membership@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

Welcome New Summer 2020 Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 10 new business members in the months of July and August. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the links below.

Athletico Physical Therapy
Costco Business Center Warehouse
Echo Home Loans LLC
Fetterman Investments
Kid Capital Funding, LLC
Office Clean America
Pena Property Management
Ryan LLC
Shine Window Care
Simpatico Systems, LLC

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact membership@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

Outbreak Dancing – Lesson 1

 

Lesson I: The Beauty of Zoom (amongst other things)
By Olivia McCoy

Salutations! My name is Olivia McCoy and I am this year’s Plano Chamber of Commerce Summer Intern through the Plano Mayor’s Summer Internship Program. However, outside of the office, I am a rising senior at Plano East Senior High School in the International Baccalaureate Programme, lover of local cuisine and homecooked meals, occasional flutist, environmentalist, and intense historical and scientific researcher. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity especially considering the circumstances of our changing world. Yes, you heard me, “our changing world”.

When I left school for Spring Break earlier this year, I had no idea that I would not be stepping foot on campus until Mid-July. Not only did I leave behind my half-finished science fair project, teary goodbyes to amazing teachers, but I also left the remains of my Junior Year in the hands of a deadly virus that has turned both my world and the real world upside down.

While being quarantined with my parents and lovely dog, Sophie had presented its many challenges, I now had to navigate new methods of communication for both schoolwork and summer activities. In fact, when I had my internship interview through Zoom it was only about my second week of using the software and to say I was a little confused about how to mute and unmute myself is an understatement (yes, that problem even happens to us high-schoolers).

Learning that I had gotten a summer internship in the midst of a global pandemic not only made me acquire a new set of skills in Zoom, but also made me realize that the heart of Plano business and the Chamber really hold our community together. We are all learning as we go how to make use of difficult times and I believe that turning a negative into a positive is the best way to go about problem-solving.

As a firm believer in life-long learning, I believe that every experience gives us knowledge for the future and that as we grow in both ourselves and in others, we change for the better. Starting an internship in the summer of social distancing hasn’t been easy, but I believe the learning experiences I’ve garnered these past few weeks will prepare me for the future of our changing world.

After a few weeks of attending zooms from home of Chamber events (I finally figured out how to use the mute/unmute button), my first day in the office proved to be a bit of a challenge. Walking up the stairs to the office would’ve put me out of breath normally, however, combined with my lovely mask it felt as if I had trekked a mountain. I soon learned that the elevation wasn’t the only thing similar to a mountain as I slowly began to freeze to death in my new intern cubicle. I hadn’t brought a blanket and as I met everyone in the office, and learned more about the software I would be using, each minute I became closer and closer to resembling a popsicle. Thankfully, I received a blanket from a coworker and continued about my day. Brainstorming in person and bouncing ideas off of one another was my favorite part of being in the office because despite Zoom’s many great qualities there’s just something about bonding in person that your webcam can’t do just yet (I’m sure Apple will find a way to eventually though).

The next few days (equipped with my own cardigan) I attended events that had originally been planned for in-person but were now virtual through Zoom. I believe the Chamber staff has done an incredible job of shifting to virtual events quickly given how fast everything has changed on us. It was really interesting to see how everything just “clicked” together (haha) and listening to the perspectives of different types of businesses affected by COVID really made me change my way of thinking in terms of the local economy and public policy of our city. I especially enjoyed sitting in on the virtual public policy meeting, as well! I gained so much insight into the intricacies that go into our local community!

As I continue my journey through my internship these next few weeks and learn as much as I can about our changing world, the Plano Chamber, and local business, I would love to share my tips, tricks, and) secrets with you! Navigating a changing world can be difficult, but not impossible. By the end of it all, I’m sure we will be Outbreak Dancing!

Five Questions with Russel Dubree, Lifeblue

5 Questions with Russel Dubree of Lifeblue
by Kathy Marcum, Membership Development Manager

Lifeblue is a full service digital media company that moved their corporate HQ to Plano in early 2019.  As one of only four Certified B Corporations in the Dallas area, Lifeblue has made a commitment to themselves, their customers and the public to balance profits with purpose.  Russel Dubree, Chief Operating Officer of Lifeblue, took some time recently to speak with me about life at Lifeblue.

How is Lifeblue navigating the quarantine? Are you working from home?

We’ve been fortunate enough to navigate quarantine quite well given the nature of our work being already in a digital environment. We started working from home in early March and focused a lot of effort to maintain a lot of our culture and work processes and also adapt to the rapid change occurring with our clients. The only thing we couldn’t duplicate for folks was the cold brew coffee machine. It is sorely missed.

What has been the best and worst thing about working from home?

I think the best thing for us has been the fact that communication has actually increased in a lot of different ways. People are updating each other more on their goals, commitments, and what they are working on. The downside is that we are a highly collaborative and close knit culture that we believe enhances the quality of our work and while we have found different means to do this in a remote environment, it has proven more difficult than if we were in an office environment.

Culture is such a big part of your company’s story. How have you engaged your staff while working separately? 

Our team has done a great job adapting quickly to this. We’ve started Trivia Tuesdays during lunch, having virtual happy hours on Fridays, keeping track of and being consistent with our 1-1 meetings, and just reaching out to see how folks are doing. In addition we created a “task force team” called Team Compass of a few team members who are proactive in evaluating our needs and opportunities to better enhance our culture within the COVID crisis and beyond.

What did you want to be when you grew up and is that what you became?

Not to date myself, but I definitely did not intend to be a founder of a digital agency growing up as that wouldn’t have been a conceivable option. I think I started somewhere along the lines of paramedic following in the footsteps of my father, to a chef, and finally an Air Force pilot as I finished high school and on into college.

What is the first thing you plan to do once restrictions are fully lifted?

Tex-Mex takeout has been the biggest disappointment during quarantine, I look forward to sitting on a patio with a margarita and eating my heart out in chips and salsa. My wife wants to go to New York to see a Broadway show. I suppose we’ll have to do both.

Learn more about Lifeblue at their website.

Meet Our 2020 Summer Interns

The Plano Chamber of Commerce is proud to participate in the Plano Mayor’s Summer Internship Program. Thanks to the support of our partners, Cigna and FedEx Office, we will have the support of four summer interns from Plano ISD schools. Olivia McCoy will be working directly with our staff on special projects to support the Chamber and learn about the local business community.  Ananya Sridhar, Bethel Kim, and Keshav Vasanth will be working on a special research project for the Plano Chamber with the support of the team at FedEx Office. Please read on to learn more about these four outstanding local students.

Olivia McCoy – Plano East Senior High
My name is Olivia McCoy and I am a rising senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Plano East Senior High School. At PESH I play the flute in the band, participate in History Fair, am president of LASER (science fair club), am the treasurer of the Plano East Red Cross Chapter, and volunteer through the National Honor Society. As a firm believer in life-long learning and the importance of education, I am the event executive of a student-led nonprofit organization called SparkSTEM where I plan STEM-related events and projects to help students in underprivileged areas of North Texas access education. Some of my hobbies include running, reading, cooking, and trying new foods at local restaurants with my friends! One of the books I just recently finished is The War on Normal People by Andrew Yang (highly recommend), and in my spare time, I post pictures of dishes I cook, recipes, and mini-reviews for local cuisine on my food Instagram account. As an avid environmentalist, once in college, I hope to double major in International Relations and Environmental Science and pursue a career in environmental law in the future. I look forward to working with the Chamber of Commerce this summer and feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity!

Ananya Sridhar – Plano East Senior High
My name is Ananya Sridhar and I am a rising junior in the IB Program at Plano East Senior High School. I am an avid participant in our school’s Science Fair, NHS, Theater, and TedEd programs. Outside of school, I enjoy teaching taekwondo at my dojang, participating in creative problem solving challenges for Destination Imagination, and volunteering at the Dallas Museum of Art on their Teen Advisory Council. I am passionate about animal conservation and volunteer at the Dallas Zoo. I am very interested in science and history, and in the future, I hope to pursue a career in the medical field. For fun, I enjoy reading, watching Marvel movies, painting, and bullet journaling.

Bethel Kim – Plano West Senior High
 My name is Bethel Kim and I’m a rising senior at Plano West Senior High. Throughout the year you can find me playing violin in the orchestra hall, tutoring after school, attempting to practice my Spanish skills, or spending time with friends at my favorite boba shop. I’ve always loved storytelling and have found platforms to express this passion through a podcast I started with friends and a series of creative writing. In college, I plan to major in economics and continue to listen and tell stories with a possible minor in English. With this combined focus, I hope to further understand the economy, its impact on people, and find a way to bring more of its narrative to life. I consider myself to be the perfect ambivert who loves a day of trying new things and meeting new people as well as a night in reading and binge-watching my favorite shows.

Keshav Vasanth – Plano East Senior High
My name is Keshav Vasanth, and I am a rising junior at the IB World School at the Plano East Senior High School in Plano, Texas. Since I was 5, I have been part of the global nonprofit Destination Imagination program, building creative solutions to service learning challenges related to conservation, hurricane relief, pollution and more. I love how combining thoughtful, artistic design with innovative technology can impact societal needs. I hope to combine entrepreneurship, engineering, conservation and film in college and in my career. I enjoy inventing, performing magic, video production, long boarding, dance, and volunteering at the Dallas Zoo.

Stay tuned to hear more from our interns about their summer internship experience.

Welcome New June 2020 Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 12 new business members in the month of June. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the links below.

Career Management Partners
Cisco Systems
Future Tech Enterprise, Inc.
Instar Title
Laird Plastics
Lone Ranger Properties
MPP
OffBeat Business Media
Spectrum Reach*
The Princeton Review
Tutor Doctor
Vitality Bowls- Plano

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact membership@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

Five Questions with Sean Corrington, Furniture Marketing Group, Inc.

5 Questions with Sean Corrington of Furniture Marketing Group
by Kelle Marsalis, President & CEO

Recently I checked in on Sean Corrington, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing with Furniture Marketing Group, located in Plano. Sean and I met several years ago when I worked closely with the owner of FMG on small business programs. It was clear from the start that FMG, and Sean, are fantastic community partners, employers, and members of the Plano Chamber. Read more of our conversation below to learn about the company, Sean, and his beautiful baby girls.

I’ve known FMG for a few years now, and have even utilized some of your great products in my office. What would you like readers to know about FMG and what you specialize in?

Furniture Marketing Group, Inc. (FMG) is a family of companies headquartered in Plano, TX. We have showrooms in both Texas & Oklahoma as well as client support centers spanning from the west to the east coast. FMG is a provider of interior furnishings for corporate environments of all sizes, government entities, and healthcare providers, as well as the education sector. “Interior furnishings” honestly doesn’t even begin to describe what we help our clients with in today’s world. We provide ergonomic work from home solutions, flexible architectural space division, technology solutions, and many other critical products our clients demand. Aside from a distributor of products, our teams lead client conversations with a consultative approach on product solutions given an organization objectives.  Doing this alongside great industry partners yields a concept in which FMG executes through completion. Long term support of our clients over the years is really what makes the difference.

FMG is a family-owned business. How has the company grown since its beginnings?

We are in our 39th year of business and fortunate to be one of the largest distributors for Haworth, which is a multibillion dollar furniture manufacturer based in Western Michigan. Our roots go deep with our supplier. Our founder, Cleon Almond, started FMG in 1981 and at that time, Haworth just like FMG, was a lot smaller. Haworth’s current Chairman Emeritus, Dick Haworth, and Cleon focused together on one key objective. Provide best in class products & customer service to our clients. Today FMG second generation CEO, Greg Almond, instills those same principles from his father, continuing to guide FMG forward.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve learned about the furniture business in your 7 years with FMG and 20 years in the business?

The biggest surprise I’ve learned is the sophistication that goes into designing an office space. Twenty years ago, I thought office furniture was just a desk and a chair! Big picture discussions around analyzing the amount of real-estate for each employee as well as discussion about creating an atmosphere that supports a company’s core values and objectives are critical to the success of any project.  More important than ever, our organization must provide flexibility of a workspace that allows for changes and that has to be done with thoughtful up-front design. Sometimes I wish it was just a desk and a chair!

We are in the 12th week of the pandemic in the USA. Are you working from home? If so, what has been the biggest challenge?

FMG is a supplier to essential businesses so our offices have remained open. However, a majority of our employees are working from home as we finalize our own return to work strategy. I personally have worked from our office in International Business Park sometimes at least 3 or 4 days a week while working from home the others. Since mid-March, I have been one of 6 people in our 16,000 foot office so it has been very easy to practice physical distancing inside a space as such when no one is around! There are challenges to both scenarios. I miss the interaction in the office and do not have the luxury of walking up to an associate to have an ad-hoc conversation in which I might be able to get an answer immediately. With technology, I can still get the answer but it might take just a bit longer. I definitely miss the day to day in person collaboration. While working from home, that in itself has had a few challenges. My wife, Michelle, and I have twin daughters, Avery & Aubrey who are about to turn one year old and as you can imagine, the home office has a lot of things happening!

Ok, it all can’t be about business. You’ve been in Plano for a while, so tell us what is your favorite thing to do in Plano? 

Since moving to Plano three years ago, Michelle’s and my life has changed dramatically as you can imagine. We use to spend some late nights in the Shops at Legacy & Legacy West. We now spend a lot of our time at some of the great parks Plano has to offer and our latest favorite is Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. However, our favorite spot is at our home in Plano with our girls. Michelle, Avery, Aubrey, and I plan on spending many nights and weekends right in our own back yard swimming and grilling!


Learn more about Furniture Marketing Group, Inc. at their website.

Welcome New May 2020 Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 11 new business members in the month of May. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the links below.

Clean N Pristine, Inc.
Concordia Innovative Consulting & Services Group, LLC
Corky’s Gaming Bistro
CPR At Your Door
DART
Empowered Success – JT Atkinson
Iconic IT
Manhattan Burger
Nothing Bundt Cakes
SpectrumVoIP, Inc.
Trintech

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact membership@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

Business Bulletin – May 18, 2020

In order to keep you informed on the evolving impact of COVID-19 on our local community, the Plano Chamber will be publishing updates on Mondays and Thursdays as the Business Bulletin. We will share the top news items that you need to read to stay up-to-date on important health, community, and business issues as they develop.

May 18, 2020

FEDERAL

  • The US House of Representatives passed a version of a fourth relief bill that was authored by Democrat leadership last week.  The White House and Senate Republicans have indicated they prefer a ‘wait and see’ approach to whether the country needs another stimulus package, likely in June.

STATE

  • Gov. Abbott announced Texas is moving into Phase II of reopening today.  Highlights from his press conference are below, and a full listing of new businesses than can reopen is available at gov.texas.gov/opentexas.
    • Texas’s testing has increased.  We now are averaging 25k tests a day with 600 testing sites across Texas which allows us to identify hot spots, the top 3 of which are typically (1) nursing homes, (2) jails and (3) meat packing plants.  When hot spots arise, the Governor can send in a Surge Response Teams to isolate those infected and help thoroughly disinfect the facility. This will contribute to number of confirmed tests but allows Texas to contain them within a week or two.
    • Key Metrics for Phase II
      • Positivity Rate.  As testing increases, so will raw number of confirmed tests.  The White House Task Force recommends the rate of positive tests be trending downward to continue to reopen.  Texas’s rate was ~14% in mid April and is now ~5%.
      • Hospitalizations and Capacity. Texas hospital capacity has remained steady since mid April with plenty of capacity for new patients.
    • Other personal services businesses beyond barber shops, beauty salons and tanning and nail salons can now open.  A full list can be found at gov.texas.gov/opentexas.
    • Businesses in office buildings can now open to the greater of either 10 employees or 25% of their workforce so long as they follow social distancing guidelines.
    • Childcare services can open immediately. 
    • Restaurants can open to 50% capacity and bars/tap rooms/wine tastings at 25% capacity. Drive in concerts, bowling alleys and similar businesses can open up at 25% capacity beginning May 21st.
    • Beginning May 30, youth sports camps and little league can open and parents can spectate with proper social distancing.  All summer camps and daytime and overnight camps can open.
    • Professional sports such as golf, car racing, baseball, football, basketball can open beginning May 30.
    • School districts have the option to provide summer school starting June 1st, so long as they follow safe distancing guidelines.
    • There may be times when certain counties need different guidelines because of flareups.  El Paso is in this situation now – their Phase II dates are moved back one week.

Welcome New April 2020 Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome six new business members in the month of April. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the links below.

Carpet Tech
Dogleg Solutions LLC
Estenza Inc.
Legacy Self Storage
Real Refreshments LLC
Venice Event Venue

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact membership@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.