Slagle accepts chamber leadershipBy Thomas Gnau
Former Armco executive Richard Slagle suddenly finds himself
interim leader of the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce as the
chamber faces two key leadership vacancies.
Slagle accepted what he called the “assignment” Friday, the same
day Chamber Board of Directors Chairman Dan Sack resigned his
position. Slagle expects to hold the job part-time for 60 to 120
days while the chamber tries to fill those openings with permanent
Sack said it was time for him to move on.
“It was time for some new ideas and a new direction for the
chamber,” Sack said.
Sack, owner of The Fourth R Computer Training Solutions and a
former Armco spokesman, has been chairman for more than two years.
The 580-member chamber has seen a leadership shakeup in the wake
of the city’s largest employer, AK Steel Corp., quitting the
organization earlier this month. Former President David Daugherty
resigned last week. Sack, in his final days as chairman, asked
Slagle to take over as interim director.
AK quit the chamber on the same day Cincinnati attorney Stan
Chesley, who has litigated against AK, was the invited speaker at a
chamber luncheon. An AK spokesman has said only that the chamber no
longer met AK’s needs, and company leaders may reconsider joining in
On Friday, Slagle wasn’t certain of his new job title. Sack
called him “interim director” and said Slagle does not have a board
seat, although he will be a “communicator” and “liaison” for the
board, and he will lead the search for a permanent chamber
Sack expects his board seat to remain open until the end of the
Slagle pinpointed what he saw as an immediate problem for the
chamber, which represents businesses and organizations in three
“You cannot have a viable chamber of commerce in Middletown,
Monroe and Trenton without AK’s support,” Slagle said.
He said he has already met with AK representatives, whom he
declined to name. Asked if the meeting went well, Slagle smiled and
said it went “very well. Or I wouldn’t be here.”
He said AK wants “to see a chamber that’s viable, that’s dynamic
and that would be meaningful for them to belong to.”
AK VICE President of Public Affairs Alan McCoy declined to
speculate on whether Slagle’s appointment brings AK closer to
But he said AK’s leaders will watch the chamber carefully.
“We have an interest in a strong chamber, not just for the
benefit of AK, for the benefit of all businesses in this area,”
Slagle said he will meet with “every major member” of the
chamber, as well as potential members. He met with chamber staff and
ambassadors Friday, he said.
Neither Slagle nor Sack wished to talk about the chamber’s recent
relationship with AK.
“I don’t want to dwell on what’s wrong or what has been done
wrong,” Slagle said. “There’s evidently a general acknowledgment
that the chamber needs to find a new direction.”
Sack sees Slagle as a strong choice.
“He has a wealth of experience in chamber work,” Sack said. “He’s
a very savvy executive.”
Sack said that an informal committee to evaluate chamber
operations — formed after AK’s exit — remains in place. He declined
to name members of the committee, saying they wish to be anonymous.
Slagle, 77, retired from Armco — one of AK’s corporate
predecessors — in 1985 as vice president-administrative services. He
also worked for chambers in Michigan and Findlay, Ohio, before going
to work for what was then the Middletown Area chamber in 1958.
In 1969, Slagle joined what was then Armco Steel Corp. as a
special assistant to the company’s president. He was promoted to
assistant vice president of corporate relations for Armco in 1971,
moving on to be director of public affairs and assistant vice
president for government and community relations.
Slagle on Friday emphasized he is taking his new job only
temporarily. He has other business interests, working as senior
consultant for Englewood, N.J.-based Executive Communications Group,
a speaking and communication coaching firm, and as partner in
Ultimate Concepts, a communication consultant.
Mary Jane Palmer, a longtime chamber member and owner of the
Palmer Group chain of businesses, said the chamber “needs to refocus
its mission of being a service and support to the business
community, not a business itself.
“Decisions need to be made by the entire board, not a select
few,” Palmer added. “Too many times it seems there is a lack of
teamwork involved in decision-making.”