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Chamber head hosts lunch to build solidarity

CARLSBAD —The Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce still produces approximately 300 meetings, events and networking opportunities for its members per year, despite working with a reduced staff due to economic downsizing. In order to help businesses stay up in a down market, they have upped their production despite working with fewer resources.
President and Chief Executive Officer Ted Owen, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Toni Padron and Vice President Bev Jorgensen stay sane in this hectic and stressful time by fostering a climate of family among the staff. Even if things are absolutely nuts with meetings, sales quotas, newspaper deadlines, etc., Owen insists they gather every Tuesday for lunch. Many times a member or two are their guests for the family-style meal. These are what they call “Ted’s Tuesdays.”
At the end of each meal they each have an option to talk briefly about something they are grateful for. This is not necessarily religious or spiritual. In fact they usually end up being thankful for one another. They call each other out for being great, for being patient, for being a workhorse, for having a great sense of humor. Owen said he thinks people are unlikely to say one-on-one how much they appreciate each other, but in a public forum, it seems to come naturally.
According to Colleen Gibbs, director of communications at the chamber, Owen has single-handedly established this family meal ritual. It comes from his days in the Marines when he served in Vietnam. His (and the chamber’s) support of the Camp Pendleton families is very well known, but not many people know his birthday is Flag day, June 14. You better believe the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce was decked out for Ted’s chamber birthday celebration.
Gibbs helped explain Ted’s Tuesdays. “He shops for the groceries at local member markets. I am usually one of the first employees here in the morning. I come in at 7:30 a.m. to the smell of something wonderful and Ted in the kitchen cooking. He dons a mess hall apron and serves military mess hall style. We all stand in line, he puts the main course on plate and we move through line. Half the time he is walking around offering more crackers for the soup or fetching us bottles of water.”
Ted’s Tuesday’s go against the stereotype of the uptight, stuffy, leave your emotions at the door typical workplace attitude. Chamber members hope it will serve as an example to many businesses or corporations that may want or need to strengthen relationships in their workplace.