Each year, Tony Howard gets a new boss.
The Chamber’s CEO and president said that inducting a new chairman of the business organization’s board could be regarded as a challenge. But, Howard sees it differently.
“Because everyone who has risen to chairman of the board has been pretty thoroughly vetted by their peers,” Howard said. “And this year’s no different.”
Mitch Sproul is the Chamber board’s chairman for 2018. He will be officially welcomed at the Chamber’s 50th Anniversary Gala & Annual Meeting on Jan. 26.
Sproul has been involved in the Chamber since 2006, when he moved from Mount Vernon to Loudoun to take a job as director and vice president of business development at Toth Financial.
Within a few weeks of taking the post at Toth, Sproul joined the Chamber’s Ambassadors Committee, which recruits and helps new members plug in to the organization. Sproul and his wife, Jan, were heading into the empty-nester stage of life, with their kids growing up and heading off to college.
“The way I socialized in the past was I basically went where the kids went. I coached 40 seasons of youth sports, but that was over. So, we were looking to meet people,” he said. “All of the sudden, these fellow Chamber members became like family.”
He went on to chair the Ambassadors Committee, and then in January 2013 he joined the Chamber board.
Howard said Sproul’s passion, enthusiasm and even his fun side illustrate what the Chamber is all about. He noted that Sproul has been known to offer impassioned “pep talks” at board meetings, complete with dance moves.
“Yes, everyone has bills to pay, and that’s why everyone is ultimately here. But having that enthusiasm and passion that Mitch brings is inspiring to folks,” Howard said. “They feel that this isn’t just another day at the office.”
Sproul often tells prospective members, as well as longtime members, if they want to get the most out of their Chamber membership, they should join a committee. The Chamber’s committees include: Ambassadors, Business Women of Loudoun, GovCon, Health and Wellness, Leadership Loudoun, Loudoun Technology, Loudoun Young Professionals, Nonprofits, Public Policy, Small Business, Workforce and Education, and Young Entrepreneurship Academy.
“You can go to a Chamber breakfast, which are wonderful, but you’re going to meet 100 people for 30 seconds a pop,” he said. “You want to form relationships; I think it’s committee work.”
Sproul has thought a lot about what he hopes to accomplish at the helm of the business organization this year.
He said he’s looked for a “silver bullet,” but the key is actually a back-to-basics approach. His goal is to grow membership and event attendance by a minimum of 5 percent and, ideally, 10 percent.
“The best thing our Chamber can do is get more businesses involved and the businesses already involved more involved. Because that, in my opinion, is how we increase our voice,” Sproul said. “If we do those two things we will have a spectacular year.”
The Chamber’s “voice” is its impact that it has at the state and local level. The organization weighs in on important decisions that are facing local town councils, the county Board of Supervisors and the state legislators. It also gives back to area nonprofit organizations through the Loudoun Chamber Foundation, as well as partners with public schools to help develop and pour into tomorrow’s workforce.
Sproul said his company, Toth Financial, has certainly seen its client base grow since getting more involved in the Chamber, but its membership is about more than the bottom line.
“Yes, Toth Financial has probably increased its business, and we’re thankful for it,” Sproul said. “But we value even more being a part of the Chamber’s voice.”