Meet the new Chamber president
His term may not officially begin until July 1, but Josh Hochgraber is eagerly anticipating the day when he becomes the new chairman of the board for the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Hochgraber, who will serve as chairman-elect until current chairman Cyndi Anderson's term expires on June 30, said he sees "good times ahead" as the region appears to be pulling out of the economic downturn of the past couple of years.
"The Chamber needs to be the focal point in helping to drive our members' success," he said.
Though he and his wife Amy have only been residents of Detroit Lakes for the past five years, Hochgraber has already become a well-known face in the community, as a member of the Breakfast Rotary Club, Lakes Curling Club, Parkfest Committee and Detroit Lakes Young Professionals.
In fact, Hochgraber was one of the people credited with helping to get the Young Professionals organization off the ground almost three years ago. His term as president of that organization will conveniently expire June 30 -- one day before his title as chairman of the Chamber board becomes official.
"We're going through our first officer transition this year," he said.
A native of Grandin, N.D., Hochgraber graduated from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks with a degree in marketing and a masters in business administration (MBA).
His first job was with a small company in Denver, Colo., where he met his wife Amy, a Chicago native who had moved there shortly after graduating from Purdue University.
Though they enjoyed life in Colorado, the young couple was only there for a couple of years before Hochgraber began looking for a job a little closer to home.
"We loved Colorado, but we were far enough away from family and friends that it made sense to move back to the area," Hochgraber said.
He originally interviewed for a job with Marco in Fargo, but when a position became available at the company's Detroit Lakes branch, "I jumped at it," Hochgraber said.
Growing up in Grandin, "we would spend every Sunday through Thursday trying to get back down to the lakes," he explained. "To be here seven days a week, I'm pretty fortunate."
And with all the outdoor recreational opportunities, Detroit Lakes also reminded the young couple of what they had enjoyed most about living in Colorado.
"I like being outdoors," Hochgraber said. Though he doesn't hunt and fish, "I like being out on the lake and on the golf course."
Since coming to Detroit Lakes, Josh and Amy have also added to their family: Daughter Audrey is now 15 months old.
At Marco, Hochgraber is a technology advisor in the company's print division, which basically means he recommends and provides support services for their customers' copiers, printers, scanners, faxes and other document imaging technology.
He said he was first attracted to Marco because of its "open policy."
"It's 100 percent employee owned," he explained, which basically means that all of its financial and business decisions are in the hands of the employees, and therefore, there is "full disclosure of everything."
"I truly feel our organization, while not perfect, does its best to make the customers satisfied with our goods and services," he added.
He also enjoys the fact that living in a small town like Detroit Lakes allows him to be more involved in the community.
"In Colorado, I wasn't very involved," Hochgraber explained. "In Detroit Lakes, it's pretty impossible not to become involved."
A fellow Rotarian, Andy Van Dam, encouraged him to try curling, and he quickly became enamored of the sport, even serving a term on the board of the Lakes Curling Club.
"I have a group of about 16 friends who like to get together and curl... I've been doing that for about four years now," he said. "It's something that breaks up your work week."
Hochgraber was approached about becoming a Chamber board member by Cyndi Anderson, and agreed because, as he put it, "I believe in the cause."
Hochgraber is a strong supporter of "buy local" initiatives such as the 3/50 Project, and believes "high level goods and services can be found right here in Detroit Lakes -- so supporting the Chamber just came naturally."