"Energy and persistence conquer all things" Benjamin Franklin
Where does she get her energy and enthusiasm, and how did Shawnee get so lucky as to benefit from it? As the sales representative for the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce, Amy Graves is often heard bubbling that she adores her job and would even sell toothbrushes for the Chamber. It's true! Just attend a Wednesday morning networking coffee to shake some hands and make some friends, or a ribbon cutting or Business After Hours that showcases some proud chamber member, and you will catch the spirit too. The Chamber's mission statement is "to develop and enhance our community through dynamic business leadership" and she's the dynamo expanding her community.
Promoting advertising in Shawnee Magazine and the Shawnee Dispatch is a tougher sell. A sales manager with Sunflower Publishing heard of how some new Chamber chick hopped up on a table, when requested by the crowd, and cheered her high school fight song. Without even having met her, he used her as an example of the personality type needed for sales. While the actual table top antics were exaggerated, an idea was born. Amy now tools around town in her teal Mustang, persistently promoting all 3 options.
She is frequently asked to aid in getting the word out about other networking events, such as Bob Young's Biz2Biz After Hours or a Ladies Night. Amy enjoys being known as your go-to gal. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. In her first year, she brought in 87 new members, tying a record set previously by an entire sales campaign. Furthermore, new memberships last year eclipsed the number of dropped memberships, which is quite admirable when businesses are cutting extraneous costs.
When not cultivating her herb garden, making tofu, or splitting her own logs, Amy can be found putting up flags for Veteran's Day at 5:30 a.m. or jumping in the lake in January for Special Olympics Kansas in a yellow polka dot bikini. She began gaining valuable experience and expanding her world view managing the volunteers at Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit fair trade business that supports the artisans of third world countries. She has found some other fun causes, such as helping coordinate the volunteers for Old Shawnee Days and for the Johnson County Christmas Bureau that provides holiday assistance to low-income families. A Holiday Shop is held in December, where the new gifts of food, clothing, toys, and personal care items are made available.
Amy hails from a small town, Larned, that she refers to as "Middle of a Wheatfield," Kansas. Her dad was a dentist and her mom a teacher, and somehow they instilled a great work ethic in their 3 kids - perhaps because of all the different animals they cared for -from peacocks and quail to a donkey. (Her mom won't accept any credit, saying responsibility must be in the DNA.) Part of her childhood was spent in a beautiful log house her dad built, surrounded by 3 lakes.
After graduating from the University of Kansas, she moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where she worked in restaurants and played plenty of volleyball. After 9 years, she relocated back to the Motherland, well, Overland Park, and worked for Cruises by Brennco, New Theatre Restaurant, and EVCO Wholesale Foods before finding her niche.
Because the Chamber is such a beautifully run organization, Amy has an easy product to sell. The events are fabulously orchestrated and the entire staff, led by Linda Leeper, is genuinely committed to the organization. The Shawnee chamber members are rock solid, loyal entrepreneurs who are welcoming to newcomers and fantastically supportive of each other. Amy is truly blessed with this fellowship and backup. A testimony to her efforts is her inclusion in the Shawnee Tomorrow Leadership program. This honor provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the critical issues and challenges facing Shawnee, thus creating awareness, appreciation, and action in the community. Graduates of this 5-month journey have gone on to be even more successful and influential. She is paving her way.
Amy's goals are to assist more local businesses with their advertising needs and to continue finding more ways to help make connections. Putting friends and businesses together with other friends and businesses is something she genuinely excels at and enjoys. She usually has feelers out for 4 or 5 job seekers and has been known to host shindigs at local restaurants to bring in customers "just because." Next, how about gathering a group for a trip to her beloved island in the Bahamas, Green Turtle Cay? That would promote camaraderie and good business! There is simply no stopping Chamber Amy.
Shawnee Chamber of Commerce