Chamber on the move also bids farewell to its director
May 4, 2011
By Sebastian Moraga
Moving day for the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce was moving-on day for Fritz Ribary.
He helped with the chamber’s move from its tiny offices to the former City Hall building in downtown Snoqualmie on what was his last official day as its executive director.
Ribary, a former mayor of North Bend and a current King County Hospital District commissioner, will work in marketing and communications with Snoqualmie Valley Hospital starting May 2.
He will have to resign his post as district commissioner, as the district runs the hospital.
“In the position I will be taking at the hospital,” he said, “I will still be involved with the chamber events anyway, so I won’t be going very far.”
Nevertheless, Ribary confessed to mixed feelings about leaving his commissioner post, something he already had to do when he became mayor of North Bend in the 1990s.
“I really enjoyed working as a commissioner,” he said. “I’m going to miss it.”
Leaving the chamber won’t be easy, he said, but he added he is sure the organization will do just fine without him.
Gregory Malcolm, president of the chamber’s board of directors, said the chamber has no immediate plans to hire someone to replace Ribary.
“We have put together a transition team that is working to assess the current staffing of the chamber,” he said.
Malcolm said this is the second time in a row that an executive director of the chamber leaves to pursue “what he has termed as a dream opportunity.
“We wish him the very best,” Malcolm added. “But it’s going to be very difficult to replace an icon.”
Hitting the door when summer is knocking on it is not ideal, Ribary noted.
“The timing for leaving is not good,” he said. “But the opportunity with the hospital was something the hospital had been working on and that I had been aware of. When it presented itself, it was too good an opportunity for me not to jump at it.”
The chamber he leaves behind is on good footing, he said, about to unveil a new website with space for its members and about to add a second administrative assistant. That new person is a must, he said.
“Anyone in the chamber has to wear a lot of hats,” he said. “That’s just a given. I would like to see the second person hired take the load off our office manager.”
Ribary said a replacement for him might be in place by midsummer.
Another plus is the new building on the corner of Falls Avenue and River Street in Snoqualmie.
Finally, the chamber has a visitors’ center in Snoqualmie after years of having one in North Bend.
“It’s a fantastic step up for us as a chamber,” Ribary said. “From a location and visibility standpoint, we are very excited about that.
Malcolm shared in the sentiment.
“Today was our very first day at our new location,” he said May 2. “We’re very excited about it.”
The person who takes the executive director’s job needs to know that job No. 1 is providing value to the chamber members, he said.
Job No. 2 splits evenly between recruiting new members and retaining existing members.
Hurdle No.1 is the increasingly growing pile of things to do and only so many hours in a day to do them.
Another big concern is the health of both Snoqualmie and North Bend’s downtowns. Merchants are struggling.
The challenge in both is the same: finding a way to keep tourists around for longer.
“How do we get them saying instead of, ‘Let’s go to one activity and then go home,’ saying, ‘Let’s go down there for the day,’ or once we have enough hotels, ‘How do we get there for the weekend?’ But that’s still a few years off.”
So, for Ribary, is the rocking chair.
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to retire,” he said. “There are too many things I enjoy doing.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221 or email@example.com.