As Bill Drummer remembers it, his business roots in Wauseon go back at least to age 12. That’s when he stocked shelves and swept floors in his parents’ downtown business, Kay’s Five to a Dollar store.
Anticipating retirement, Drummer sold his two longtime local businesses, Bill’s Sports Center and Certified Document Destruction, at the end of 2015. But his leisure lasted only six months before he decided to take on a new challenge, one he he says he was built for.
As of Jan. 1, Drummer, 63, is the new full-time executive director of the Wauseon Chamber of Commerce. He replaces Neil Toeppe, who had been acting part-time in the position for both Wauseon and the Swanton area. And Drummer hopes to infuse new life into the organization.
“I’m steeped in Wauseon history, and I’m tied to downtown by my parents,” the city native said. “I’ve always been a supporter of Wauseon, and I feel like we could do bigger and better.”
Drummer was appointed to an annual contract in December by the chamber’s 12-member board. He stepped down after 20 years from both the city’s Park Board and Recreation Board to concentrate solely on his new position. His plan is to increase the current chamber membership of 175 to 200 by year’s end.
“That’s a big number, and I plan on making it even bigger,” he said. “I’ve gotten six new members in three weeks, and that’s not easy in a town this size. I want to increase membership, participation. I’m really excited about the possibility.”
His resume is impressive. A graduate of Wauseon High School, Drummer earned a business degree from the University of Toledo. In addition to growing up in his parents’ store and operating his own businesses, he has exercised his civic duties on the Wauseon Board of Education and the board of the Wauseon Recreation Association. He has also served with the Wauseon Rotary, the Homecoming Committee, the INTV board, the Chili Cook-Off Committee, the Heart Radiothon, and other organizations.
For about 10 years, Drummer co-chaired the local Perry Krauss Golf Tournament which, together with an attached auction, raised $230,000 for Wauseon High School athletic programs.
And he was a Chamber of Commerce member for 25 years.
He said he can bring a unique perspective to the chamber board. “I’ve been in industry and small business. I’ve walked in the shoes of both. Not many people can say that.”
While he has new ideas to pitch, Drummer is hesitant to discuss them until he presents them to the chamber board in February. But he said, “We are going to do bigger and better things around town. There are some novel and neat things we want to do. Going forward, there will be things that will be beneficial to the members, that will help them.”
He also wants to strengthen what he considers the chamber’s biggest weakness – declining participation by some longtime members who drifted away.
“We always want to look toward the new businesses, but let’s look back a the old businesses, too,” he said. “I have some ideas and thoughts about turning the chamber around.”
Drummer said the board is supportive of change. “They don’t want it to be status quo. They are excited that I want to bring in some more people to help,” he said.
Chamber Board of Directors President Christy Snyder said Drummer was selected for his background in and knowledge of small business, and for his strong ties to the community.
“He knows Wauseon very well, so he can relate to the small business owner,” she said. “He knows what it takes to have a small business in Wauseon…and he has been very active in the community. We felt he would bring a good mix to the chamber.”
Drummer said his first weeks in the position have been somewhat overwhelming, but he’s up for the challenge.
“It fits like a glove, and I’m having fun. And that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “I could not stand being retired. I have no need to work but this is something promoting Wauseon, and that always comes naturally to me.”
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.