Montgomery County Chamber leader making things happen

When people call the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, the first thing they hear is “great t

Debbie Auspelmyer, President of the Montgomery county Chamber of commerce.
Debbie Auspelmyer, President of the Montgomery county Chamber of commerce.

When people call the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, the first thing they hear is “great things are happening.”

The message reflects a positive outlook on Montgomery County and chamber leaders say it mirrors the contagious attitude that chamber president Deborah Auspelmyer has fostered there for more than five years.

“You see her every week doing something,” said Larry Bascom, chairman of the chamber’s board in 2007 and director of operations at Quandt’s Foodservice in Amsterdam.

Bascom said he considers Auspelmyer the face of the county’s business community.

“She’s a high-energy lady,” Bascom said.

Bascom said he’s watched Auspelmyer take the job of representing businesses to a new level, bringing issues to local governments and fostering cooperation among them.

“She’s done a great job working with the community leaders,” Bascom said.

An Amsterdam native, Auspelmyer, 41, was honored by the chamber earlier this month following her completion of training from the Institute of Organizational Management.

The four-year program includes 96 hours of training and one-week sessions to improve organizational management skills aimed at running operations efficiently and effectively.

Auspelmyer’s work since she started in 2002 hasn’t always entailed happy ribbon-cuttings and economic development announcements.

When flood waters inundated the chamber offices in Amsterdam, cutting out power, telephones and access, she was still able to find a smile.

“Basically the office was shut down and the city of Amsterdam mayor gave us a little room to operate out of and the staff was working with cellphones,” Bascom said.

Auspelmyer was able to wield her constant contact with the business community to help flooded residents, Bascom said.

“She was able to get together some assistance for people almost immediately. Food, water, batteries for flashlights. She was able to gather up the resources and then the trucks to get it delivered out to areas that were hit real bad,” Bascom said.

Minden Supervisor Thomas Quackenbush, who was serving as the county Board of Supervisors’ chairman when the floods hit, remembers getting daily phone calls from Auspelmyer wanting to get an assistance program together.

Within 14 days following the flooding that wrought more than $100 million in damage to businesses and residences, Auspelmyer was standing with local officials and business leaders announcing a grant and loan program put together by a network of chamber members and others.

Right after the flooding, Quackenbush said he remembers seeing Auspelmyer with former Amsterdam Mayor Joseph Emanuele in Fort Plain “handing out water at the fire station.”

“It was really appreciated. She did an excellent job for our community and that’s above and beyond. The chamber’s there to promote business, and I don’t know that that’s in their job description,” Quackenbush said.

“She’s our conductor. Deb is our cheerleader. She’s the one that rallies the troops and gets us all involved,” said Carol Constantino, owner of the Noteworthy Company and chair of the chamber’s membership and events committees.

Constantino said Auspelmyer brings new ideas to the chamber’s board on a regular basis while keeping the chamber up to date on new happenings in government and the business world outside of the county.

“One of the most important things about the chamber is being able to have the businesses network and get to know one another. I think she’s the fulcrum for all of that,” Constantino said.

“She really takes her job quite seriously and recognizes that it’s not just a one-dimensional position but there’s many prongs to what she does,” Constantino said.

“Whether it’s putting together educational programs, networking programs, community outreach, working with the floods or legislative affairs, they’re all important aspects of the chamber,” Constantino said.

“She’s a can-do person and she has a very positive attitude. Her personality is magnetic and I think those are things that have really turned this chamber around and made it as vibrant as it is,” Constantino said.

“When they answer the phone at the chamber, they say good things are happening in Montgomery County. They mean it and she’s one of the reasons why,” Constantino said.

Auspelmyer came to the chamber after working at St. Mary’s Hospital as a public relations coordinator and physician recruiter.

Prior to that, she worked for a nursing home association as public relations director.

“I really love doing this,” Auspelmyer said.

“Truly, because every single day is diverse. Every single day I can help someone in some way and because every single day I have the opportunity to enlighten people about the great assets of Montgomery County,” Auspelmyer said.

There were times in history when the chamber would clash with county government, but Auspelmyer said that friction is gone because of an increase in communication.

“One of the things I try and always do is always have an open door of communication. I’m trying to bring people in, get them involved and engage them in what’s happening in Montgomery County,” Auspelmyer said.

Auspelmyer said she believes more businesses are taking an interest in joining Montgomery County’s chamber, where the year 2007 saw a 10 percent increase in membership.

Part of the increase in membership, now at about 500, includes entities from outside Montgomery County, Auspelmyer said.

They include operations in Fulton, Schoharie, Albany and Schenectady counties, Auspelmyer said.

“Which makes sense when you’re trying to market your business outside of your service area. Chambers are an opportunity to do that and make those connections for you,” she said.

Progress at the chamber, Auspelmyer said, is attributable to staff there.

“Truly, part of it is having a great team in place,” Auspelmyer said.

The team at the chamber includes committees of business representatives, staff and volunteers, she said, in addition to what she calls her support system: her family.

Auspelmyer said the flooding itself gave her a new perspective of her hometown, when she started asking business leaders if there was anything they could offer to help.

“People stepped up to the plate in ways I never would have imagined. We got several thousands of dollars in one check for a donation, truckloads of donations as far as food and water and batteries and games for the kids to play with,” Auspelmyer said.

“The generosity and true community support I think is something that is very special in Montgomery County. When there is a disaster and someone’s in need, everyone steps up to the plate,” Auspelmyer said.

Auspelmyer lives in Amsterdam with her husband Mark and two children.

Categories: Schenectady County

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