What's in a name? How Schaumburg Business Association -- not chamber of commerce -- began 20 years ago
During Tuesday's 20th anniversary celebration of the Schaumburg Business Association, founding chairman Brian Burke explained why the community and business leaders gathered weren't instead observing the birthday of the Schaumburg Chamber of Commerce.
Burke told the audience at Chandler's Banquets in Schaumburg that the organization formed in 2001 when a group of businesses decided they needed a local chamber to serve their interests rather than the regional Northwest Suburban Association of Commerce and Industry.
But they soon learned that the Schaumburg-based NSACI already had acquired the rights to the chamber of commerce name in a move to block any breakaway initiative from members of the village's business community.
A diplomatic wresting of the Schaumburg Chamber of Commerce name from its owners at NSACI proved impossible.
Burke tried to tell the regional group -- of which he had once been chairman -- that the local group's members wouldn't necessarily leave NSACI. But the regional group ultimately offered the name only on condition that the new chamber remained a subsidiary.
No sale. NSACI would be gone five years later while the SBA has flourished.
"My idea had always been to build an organization to hold events that people wanted to come to, that people insisted they come to," Burke said.
That was successfully achieved right from the beginning, Burke said, with fun events like competitive tournaments and the monthly "Good Morning, Schaumburg!" breakfast -- inspired by actor Robin Williams' enthusiastic delivery from the film "Good Morning, Vietnam!"
The breakfast event has featured a series of compelling, high-profile guest speakers. One of the highlights was sports executive John McDonough recalling how his marketing mastery during more than two decades with the Chicago Cubs led Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz to recruit him during a meeting at Champps sports bar in Schaumburg.
"It was one of the greatest speeches I'd ever heard," Burke said. "It was magnificent. We had a lot of great ones."
Though he was concerned the initials of Schaumburg Business Association would be confused with those of the Small Business Administration, people have been calling the local group SBA for two decades without a problem, Burke said.
He considers one of the keys to the organization's early success to be his recruitment of Greater O'Hare Association President Laurie Stone as SBA's first president.
She had first suggested her daughter -- now Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Andrea Biwer -- when the SBA was still at the conceptual stage. But once she saw Burke's plans she threw her own hat back in the ring.
"I said, 'If I get the money, I'll hire you,'" Burke told her. "I said, 'I can deliver Laurie Stone.' I think that was one of my finest moments."
Tuesday's celebration also included a pinning ceremony for the association's founding members and congratulatory proclamations delivered by Democratic state Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg and Mayor Tom Dailly.