The presidents of the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber have all had the honor to serve a diverse and engaged membership. The Chamber believes that effective leadership is the ability to inspire those who work within a team to be the best they can be. People want to be a part of something that has a significant impact on their community, and the Chamber of Commerce is the unique and premier organization that can provide that experience.
Joe Stermer was the original president and serviced until 1985. Stermer created a solid foundation of support for local businesses during a period of great change for Downriver. During a short period between Stermer and his successor, Omer O’Neil, Bill Reeves served as president of the then “SWCCC.” O’Neil was appointed president in 1986, and his strong ties in both Michigan politics and business made him the perfect person to lead the Chamber’s expansion. During his tenure, the Chamber assumed management of the annual Chamber Expo, which had been originally conceived of by the Downriver Community Conference and the now-defunct Downriver Metroplex Alliance. Also during O’Neil’s term, member cities increased from 16 to 21 and overall membership increased dramatically. Records note that the SWCCC was the 4th largest Chamber in the State of Michigan at the time. Also occurring during this period, a periodic breakfast meeting evolved to become the monthly forum series that is one of the Chamber’s most popular events to this day.
When O’Neil retired in 1999, Ed Clemente stepped into the position of president. The Downriver resident had begun working for the Chamber in 1988 as an administrative assistant to O’Neil and went on to serve on and lead various committees, task forces and advisory panels that explored how to improve Downriver’s business climate, infrastructure and amenities. His knowledge of economic development and legislative affairs made him the ideal person to head the Chamber. Among many other accomplishments, Clemente was responsible for the re-branding of the Chamber as a regional organization, renaming it the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber. The organization had originally been known as the Southern Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.
When Clemente was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives, he was succeeded by Alan Anderson. As vice president and community relations officer for Charter Bank for 20 years, Anderson become deeply involved with the Chamber, serving as a member of and then chairperson of the executive board, as well as a member of both the finance and legislative committees. Anderson, along with the vice president at the time and future president, Sandy Mull, are noted for moving the SWCRC into its current office located on the Downriver campus of WCCCD in Taylor.
Upon Anderson’s retirement, Sandra Mull become president of the SWCRC in 2010. Mull previously served as a key staff member at the SWCRC and as vice president. Under Mull’s leadership, the Chamber was actively involved with the legislative forum series, the former Green Leader Program, Leadership 21, and the Human Resource Roundtable. Mull retired in Fall, 2016.
Ronald J. Hinrichs was appointed president of the SWCRC in February, 2017. Prior to his appointment, Hinrichs served as the Director of Events & Media Relations with the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce. Over the first year, several of the Chamber’s events experienced attendance increase, allowing the team to engage the membership through new and revamped activities. The Chamber has focused primarily on increasing value for small business owners throughout the region, and being a strong voice on the legislative front for the Downriver business community. Along with positive results from other initiatives, the SWCRC earned the distinguished honor of being named one of Michigan’s Chamber of the Year Finalists for 2017.