A chat with Sue Alford

2018 South Baldwin Chamber Chairman of the Board

By Jessica Vaughn / jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 2/26/18

FOLEY – Sue Alford, CEO of Homecare Companions, has become the 2018 South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board of Directors, something that she would not have thought possible nearly …

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A chat with Sue Alford

2018 South Baldwin Chamber Chairman of the Board

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FOLEY – Sue Alford, CEO of Homecare Companions, has become the 2018 South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board of Directors, something that she would not have thought possible nearly 12 years ago when she moved to the area from Atlanta. She opened her business in 2009, and shortly after joined the South Baldwin Chamber.

“When I came here, I actually had no intentions of staying,” said Alford. “But I liked the area so much I ended up moving, then I opened my business here. The rest, as they say, is history.”

As to how she ended up serving on the Board of Directors, Alford states she was “volun-told.” She met Linda Spangrud on the golf course a few years ago, and soon Spangrud asked her to serve on the Board of Directors. At first Alford was skeptical, as being a small business owner, time is precious. Eventually she thought of the networking possibilities involved with serving on the board, and said yes.

The Board of Directors consists of 26 people, while the Executive Board consists of seven. Alford was later asked to serve on the Executive Board by Barbara Ward, and she agreed, beginning on the Executive Board as treasurer.

“I thought this would be good for my business, being a small business,” said Alford. “It opened a ton of doors. There are people like Tommy Lee, Vulcan’s CEO, and the CEO of South Baldwin Regional, and Tom DeBell, CEO of Riviera Utilities, just all kinds of CEOs and people I never would have met in my running around.”

Alford states that joining the South Baldwin Chamber was a wonderful decision for her small business, and during her time as Chairman of the Board, she’s hoping to help many other businesses in the community.

“Everybody as they come in as chair all kind of have different goals,” said Alford. “I didn’t really have any specific goal, for two reasons. One is because our capital campaign is going on, and that’s going to be my focus. The Gateway Initiative is the biggest goal. The campaign will be ending in April, then we’re drilling down to the business-driven talent development and community betterment initiative.”

The chamber has already begun working on this stage with two classes to be held in March, where the chamber will be getting 30 companies who have signed on as part of the initiative to send their best customer service person to attend the class. During the meeting, the participants will discuss what makes good customer service by sharing ideas and experiences, before going out into the community to share those ideas with others.

“Through the end of this year, we’re going to be rolling out the initiatives, the programs,” Alford said. “We expect to be held accountable. We’re asking people for money and they want outcomes. They don’t want to just see pretty brochures, they want to see that there are actual results.”

Her other goal is to spread the word about how the chamber can help small businesses flourish.

“A lot of people look at the chamber as all these big guys, and ‘oh it’s all those same people all the time,’ but I’m not from here,” Alford said. “I was asked to do this, and I’m a small business, I started from nothing. I just firmly believe that you have to involve yourself in things, and the chamber is one of the best places for small businesses to be able to meet people that they would never have access to, ever.”

During the 2018 year, Alford hopes to see many new small businesses join into the chamber, as well as seeing the Gateway Initiative begin rolling at full-speed.

“I just hope that the momentum is like a train rolling down the tracks,” said Alford. “The momentum is continuing to go and building still. This is a 5-year plan, so I’m just at the very beginning of it, so I just hope that the momentum continues and that we’re all going in the same direction and staying focused, continuing to go towards the same goals … The goals are very spelled out and we need to stick to them, and not get off track. And if I can touch one or two little small businesses along the way, then I’m happy to do that too.”

Alford states that she is proud to be a small business owner and the Chairman of the Board.

“I’m hoping that I present that you can be a little business and still be part of the chamber, and a big part of the chamber,” said Alford. “But you have to want to be.”

To all small business owners or dreamers out there, Alford is always happy to help with any questions.

“Anybody that wants to approach me to ask how did I start and what do I think you need as a small business person, please approach me and say, ‘I’m thinking about starting a small business,’ or ‘I have a small business,’ or ‘I have a small business but I’m struggling with something,’ I’ll certainly try to help,” Alford said. “Now can I solve all their problems, no, but I would love to help.”

None of the 2018 goals would be possible without the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce team.

“I’m like the water boy on the team,” Alford said. “I’m so not important to the team, you’ve got some really influential people there. But they’re all super nice, I have not met anybody that I don’t care for. Everybody’s friendly, everybody’s nice, it’s one of the things I love about the South Baldwin Chamber.”

When not working or helping at the chamber, Alford is an avid golfer, and loves anything to do with water, from boating, kayaking, fishing, and visiting the beach, which means she found the perfect place in Baldwin County.

“I’m not from here, but I still ended up where I am, because I got involved and I tried,” Alford said. “You know what’s funny, I didn’t even feel like I had to prove myself, I just went to the chamber events, I was myself, and it kind of morphed into this.”

For more information about joining the South Baldwin Chamber, events hosted by the South Baldwin Chamber, or information on the Gateway Initiative, visit their website at www.southbaldwinchamber.com.