By Steve Sears
The Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce (RACC) was officially incorporated in February of 1977 but had its beginnings a few years earlier.
“I was recently elected for 2020 and for 2021,” says President Kevin Keller, who represents Allstate N.J. Insurance/Kevin Keller Agency. “And it’s been challenging.”
“Challenging” is a perfect descriptor for a year beset by the COVID19 pandemic. “Some people were open to and some were adamantly against gatherings,” Keller says. “It really kind of prohibited the gatherings that we could have, and really the networking.” Monthly meetings, currently held the third Thursday of the month, were moved to Zoom and still exist on the platform. “The main thing is really trying to understand where the business owners are at and what their challenges are and trying our best to help them overcome that.” After-hours events are held quarterly. “We provide food and drink, and normally its at one of our members locations in the area,” he says. “It’s at a different location every time, and it’s really just to highlight that member’s location, to let people come and see it. It’s really pure networking. The town council and the mayor will also come in and give a quick update about what’s going on in the town.”
The RACC is primarily membered by Morris County businesses, the bulk of business owners having set up shop in Randolph and the surrounding areas. However, Keller adds that anybody is welcome to join. “We don’t really limit it. It’s not an exclusive club by any means,” he says of the group that currently has 86 members.
Keller first joined back in December of 2002. “Over the course of time and getting to know people and even getting to know people on the town council and the mayor,” he says, “I think it has helped raise my position in the community, and certainly, being involved with grand openings of businesses.” The key word is involvement. “You’re not going to join and business is going to just start flooding into your agency or your office,” he states. “It’s really over the course of time and getting to network and getting to know people on a business level and on a personal level as well. And that’s exactly what’s happened for me. And I think it just really accentuates not only my business, but my business skills by doing different work and being on different committees and offices within the Chamber.”
Keller prioritizes the importance of both helping promote local businesses and shopping local. “And I don’t necessarily limit that to just members of the Chamber,” he says in a key statement. “I think as President, part of my job is to promote any local business. Anything that I see online, or if it’s a physical business, anything that we can do to be part of that, is really important. Its going to benefit everybody. We’re all local; property taxpayers, employers, and things of that nature. It really all does get filtered back into the tax or income base of the community.”
Keller, obviously, doesn’t go it alone. “I get to work with a lot of really wonderful people.” In addition to Keller, Lisa Natali (Mainly Menus) is Vice-President, Kathryn Mantell (Nisivoccia LLP) is Treasurer, and Margaret Leonard as Secretary round out the Officers. The Directors are Greg Bock (Servpro of S.W. Morris County), Helene Elbaum (Newmark Associates), Ron DeFilippis (Mills & DeFilippis CPAs LLP), Lou Nisivoccia (Nisivoccia Consulting), Bill Shuler (Henry O. Baker Insurance), and Tom Vetter (Vetter Planning).
“We’re looking for new members to help diversify so that we can continue to connect people,” Keller says, coining himself a “honeybee for business.” “I’m supposed to pollinate other businesses and get them together.” Needed are more specialty contractors to join the RACC. “That’s probably the one (industry) that were missing the most of. And we know they’re out there, and they’re probably busy. We can always help them promote their business while they’re out there doing business.”
Interested in joining? Visit the RACC website at www.randolphchamber.org, or call (973) 366-4262.