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A Letter Regarding The 147th Annual Dinner

Events & Programs
June 05 2019

The below is a letter from Lancaster Chamber President & CEO Tom Baldrige


I want to first begin with an apology—the Chamber team and I are sorry that the 147th Annual Dinner did not go quite as planned. We fully hoped to deliver a flawless evening deserved of our local business community yet fell short. Despite having to rework how to showcase our keynote, we hope you were able to feel empowered by the messages, connect with those around you, and celebrate the amazing community of Lancaster County. We were so thankful to have you there.

As many of you know, the speaking industry has been rapidly changing and, unfortunately, getting commitments from high-level speakers to travel much earlier than right before their speaking engagement is almost impossible. Because of this, the reality is that there is a risk in bringing top-level speakers to our community. We own the fact that we accepted that risk.

While that is the reality, there were still lessons learned.

One is to always have a Plan B (and C!) in place when dealing with high-level speakers.

A second lesson learned, and for me a main takeaway of the night was all about how fully inspiring our local business community is—especially when faced with a challenge. While we were celebrating all that is good about Lancaster business community on the stage, all of that good was unfolding in real-time behind-the-scenes in a very inspirational collaboration to ensure that “the show would go on.”

It was nothing short of amazing.  So please allow me to thank those that saved the day and helped bring Indra Nooyi’s powerful message and Q&A to our attendees.

First off, we want to thank Dave Eberly, General Manager of the Lancaster Airport. Because of the complications with Indra’s flight plans, Dave was a perfect resource. He just so happened to be at the Reception when we found him and asked for his expertise. He didn’t waste a minute in making connections and getting us the status –and the predictions—on our situation.  He was calm, cool and collected in doing everything he could to manage an increasingly unsettling situation. What Dave delivered was information, and we all know it is so much better to make decisions based on real information than guesses. Thank you, Dave.

Once we officially decided that Ms. Nooyi’s flight would not be taking off from White Plains, NY in enough time for her to arrive in Lancaster, we made the call at 7:20 p.m., (hopefully while all of you were enjoying your dinner!), to explore a remote option. And that was when the magic really started to happen.

I want to thank the entire crew from Shumaker PDT, our event partner. Both Rod Shumaker and Brian McKee quickly got on the phone with people in New York City to explore options for a remote opportunity. The professionalism and can-do spirit they demonstrated was infectious, as was the sheer talent that was on display in figuring it all out. Within minutes there was a plan.  

Secondly, I want to thank WGAL-TV. After Shumaker explored options we realized we may need to secure a satellite truck to make it all happen. From the second I placed the call to Assistant News Director Eric Nazarenus, he was in “go-mode” and telling me not to worry, they would take care of it. And Within 15 minutes he and his amazing team had done just that. The truck and the personnel to staff it were on their way.

So we had a plan and we had the satellite truck, now we just had to make sure it could all work. That is when the symphony of cooperation and can-do spirit really took over. Our camera operators from RCTV provided tremendous technical assistance (and adaptation!); the Lancaster Marriott and Convention Center staff did their part to both help and, truth be told, get out of the way (imagine trying to serve 2,100 people efficiently while one of your pre-kitchens was being taken-over by technicians in a hurry!); and, of course, the Chamber staff, specifically the event organizer Molly Crouser, who all jumped in to do their part to keep the evening flowing.

I also want to thank others who stepped up to the plate to help us navigate the challenge. Thanks to Production Express for audio support, PSAV for network assistance, Lisa Stokes, BRP Entertainment, for her diplomacy, and Craig Kauffman, Chamber Board Chair, for his strong support. Without the team of businesses and people assisting, we would not have been able to make it happen.

Finally, I want to thank Indra Nooyi, as she was equally determined to deliver a poignant keynote to our incredible business community. And, due to her determination, she drove herself from the airport to ESPN studios, where the livestream would be filmed, to make it all happen! 

So, truth be told, while I will admit to being, shall we say, “a bit anxious” throughout the night, it has ended with me being more inspired than ever about the power, talent and can-do spirit of the Lancaster County business community. 

Our theme of the night was Lean Into the Bold---that theme was evident in the stories of the award winners, in the celebration of the 225th Anniversary of LNP Media Group, and the remarks from our Board Chair Craig Kauffman.

Yet, it was also evident in the real-time display that managed to pull it all off. I am forever grateful to all those who had a part in “saving” the night; and I am forever grateful for all those attendees who continue to support the Chamber.

Thank you.

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