TR Robertson — Vista, CA …As of December 20th, the current Vista Chamber of Commerce CEO, Bret Schanzenbach, will end 10 years of service for the Vista Chamber and on January 7th he will become the CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. Bret will take over for Ted Owen, who is retiring after 15 years as the CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber. The search for a new Vista Chamber CEO will soon begin.
Schanzenbach began with the Chamber in 2008 as the Director of Business Development and took over as CEO in 2009. The Vista resident, graduated from Vista High School, went to the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, majoring in Psychology and obtained a Master’s in Theological Studies from the University of Dallas. He previously served for seven years as a youth minister. He is married, wife Joleen, and has six children. Prior to working with the Chamber he worked in residential real estate and computer software. Bret helped start a human resources software company in Bonsall, Technical Difference, Inc.
Bret said he will miss the relationships he has developed here as well as the many unique events the Vista Chamber runs. He said the Strawberry Festival, the Chamber organizes, has grown from the 2009 street faire with 120 vendors to what it is today, 450 vendors and a one day attendance of over 100,000 people. Bret also alluded to how happy he is that the Vista Chamber of Commerce, 560 businesses strong, has become relevant in Vista and the Chamber has become a part of many things in the community. He said this will be the 95th year the Vista Chamber has been a part of the city and it is growing every year.
When asked about the Carlsbad Chamber, Schanzenbach pointed out that the Chamber he will be going to is double that of Vista, 1,300 businesses, and has a staff of 11, as compared with Vista’s staff of 4. He said the challenge will be a big one for him, but he is ready to take up the challenge. One of the things he was quick to point out was the unique nature of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. They have a thriving business park, a strong tourist industry and an energetic, busy downtown area as well. He said that, for example, downtown Historic Vista primarily has breweries and eateries, whereas downtown Carlsbad area not only has the breweries and eateries, but they also have quite a few retail stores. This mix of businesses and a strong tourist trade makes for unique challenges, slightly different from what Bret has experienced while with the Vista Chamber. The Carlsbad Chamber also is in charge of running perhaps the largest single day street faire in the country, the Carlsbad Street Faire, run twice a year. This street faire has over 900 vendors and anywhere from 300,000-500,000 attendees. Another challenge Bret will face.
I asked Bret if he would be giving up his “Mr. Vista” license plate and he said it is a discussion he has had with his wife and it may be time to retire the license plate name to someone else.
The New Year will bring a number of new changes in the business community both for Vista and for Carlsbad. As both of these thriving North County cities continue to grow both in population and in the number and kind of businesses in their communities, working relationships will grow in these neighboring communities.