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New chamber head ready for challenge

DETROIT LAKES - Mentioning the word change in a business setting gives off positive and negative connotations.

With the hiring of Kris Tovson as the new president of the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, change is a good thing according to the outgoing and incoming chairmen of the Board of Directors.

Outgoing chairman Jo Johnson said that Tovson is a great fit for the chamber.

"It's something that the chamber needed," Johnson said.

What Johnson is specifically referring to is Tovson's energy level, which she described as contagious.

And Tovson's previous position as the operations manager at Brookview Golf Course in Golden Valley, Minn., for 27 years shows that she can work with the public in a niche setting with any problems.

"There was a lot of interaction and customer service," Tovson said.

That experience gave her the edge.

"We saw a lot of parallels in what she was doing on the golf course," Johnson said.

Incoming chamber chairman Tom Thompson said that Tovson's years working at a golf course shows she has what it takes to succeed with the chamber.

Tovson will be counted on to visit the membership and get their take on chamber operations. She will also get to use her skills to make a difference in the community.

"This is going to be an opportunity for change," Tovson said.

Plus, the chamber board decided that Tovson's ties to the community were an advantage. She was raised in Detroit Lakes, and family and friends still call the city home.

"She's not a stranger," Johnson said.

Thompson said that Tovson knows what Detroit Lakes was like in the past.

But Johnson added that Tovson has been away from the area long enough to not get involved personally in various issues.

"We wanted a fresh view," Johnson said.

Getting out and visiting members is something that the board and Tovson agree is one of the first tasks on the table.

"You have to please a lot of interests," Thompson said. "It's part and parcel of the job."

Considering the fact that the chamber is not a monolithic organization, but a cooperative, it needs to represent everyone.

"What the chamber is interested in is proving its relevance to members," Johnson said. "She really has to hear from them to know what they are looking for."

The board itself can devolve into an echo chamber and not know what is going on at the grass-roots business level.

The president's job is to make sure those diverse views from the membership surface. "Maybe there's something we're missing," Johnson said.

Helping the chamber raise money or finding volunteers will also be in the cards for Tovson.

Especially since the regulars can get burned out, according to Johnson.

Just settling into her position on Tuesday, Tovson likes the chance she has to make a difference.

"They know what they are getting with the energy and enthusiasm," she said.