ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce’s third CEO in as many years is resigning at the end of this month. Marshall Weinreb, who began his tenure with the organization on July 15, 2009, said he’s leaving without any regrets.
“I was lucky to be successful at meeting the goals I set at the beginning of this journey,” he said.
Weinreb’s appointment came five months after the abrupt resignation of former CEO Gary Tucker, who served in the position for approximately two years. According to Tucker’s resignation letter sent to the board on Jan. 23, 2009, he cited declining revenue from returning members, loss of faith in the board’s leadership and the executive committee’s refusal to follow the bylaws of the organization as reasons for his departure.
Weinreb, 66, said he is leaving the chamber in better shape than when he arrived. “There were so many areas that needed attention and improvement in the beginning,” he said. “It’s a smoother organization now that’s more financially secure.”
That’s good news for local business owners. After the past tumultuous year of fending off a lawsuit and mending fences, the chamber is better positioned to carry out its mission of supporting local businesses. “This has been a period of transition for the chamber,” Weinreb said. “Membership is growing dramatically and we’ve brought the medical community and the education community into the fold.”
Weinreb’s task of repairing damaged relationships wasn’t an easy one he said. He was hired on the heels of several board members resigning and longtime contractor Mike Andreen, who was responsible for bringing in new members and marketing, launching a new chamber focused on the businesses within the El Camino Real corridor.
Mayor Dan Dalager, a founding member of the chamber in 1964, had nothing but praise for the outgoing executive. “Marshall was exactly what they (the chamber) needed at that point,” Dalager said. “He came in and made the tough decisions. He came in like shock therapy, which they needed.”
“This follows a very distinct pattern that happens in a lot of organizations,” Dalager said. “To make an omelet, you’ve got to crack a lot of eggs and you’ve got to have someone to do the heavy lifting so the ship will sail straight.”
As a self-described “people person,” Weinreb said one of his main objectives was to make the organization more cohesive despite differing personalities. “We should put personal differences aside to make this the best business climate possible.”
Several business and civic organizations exist to support the five communities that comprise the city. Weinreb said working with the various stakeholders in the city has been a pleasure. “I probably know more people now in Encinitas than almost anyone and I’ve really come to love it,” he said.
Weinreb said his background as an entrepreneur and high-level executive prepared him for the challenges in restoring confidence in the chamber. The native New Yorker moved to La Costa in 1999, after two decades in Dallas, Texas. He retired in 2005 to care for his wife, Marcia, who succumbed to a long-fought illness recently.
“I’m pulling into Grand Central Station and it’s time to get on a new train,” Weinreb explained. While he looks forward to staying involved with some of the committees at the chamber, he’s ready to spend more time with his family and seek other opportunities in the nonprofit sector.