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Perham Chamber begins a new era of leadership

After 15 years, Dan Schroeder is stepping down as executive director of the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce. He'll continue to work in sales for the Chamber, while his director duties will be split between the Perham City Council and Nick Murdock, the city's economic development director.

Dan Schroeder, right, and Nick Murdock, left, stand side-by-side in front of the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce sign inside the local chamber office.
Nick Murdock, left, and Dan Schroeder, right, stand together inside the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Dan Schroeder has been synonymous with the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce since he took on the role of executive director 15 years ago.

Over the course of those years, he became known throughout the community for his dedication to economic progress and community improvement. Finances, membership and marketing efforts at the Chamber all greatly increased under his leadership.

Now, with retirement in view, Schroeder's scaling back — but with a plan in place to make sure the good things that have been happening at the Chamber will carry on for years to come.

Schroeder recently announced he's stepping down as executive director of the Chamber. While he's not fully retiring — at least for a few more years — he'll now be working entirely in sales, a less time-consuming role that will allow him more flexibility in his personal life.

"I'm at that age now where I want to look at other options of other things to do," Schroeder said. "It's a nice change for me. I'm still going to be very active, but there will be a lot more flexibility."

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Schroeder's director duties will be split between the Perham City Council and Nick Murdock, who's the city's economic development director and will now also serve as the Chamber's Executive Director.

Schroeder approached Murdock himself about taking over as director. In his role with the city, Murdock already works with the Chamber quite a bit, which will make the transition go more smoothly, Schroeder reasoned. He said the change was a natural fit.

"Nick is a great addition," said Chamber Board of Directors Vice President Sandy Waldon. "There's a lot of overlap in what he does as economic development director with the Chamber executive director. He'll definitely be able to make that transition. We had a board meeting, and it doesn't feel different. We're not operating differently, just new."

Waldon has been on the Chamber Board since 2004. She said Schroeder was originally hired in 2007 because he had every qualification the Chamber was looking for. He seemed very business-minded and budget-oriented, which, since they were struggling to handle the budget at the time, made him seem to be a perfect fit.

"I remember telling (the Chamber Board) I'd give them four years to get things going," Schroeder said, recalling the time of his hire. "Well, I stayed another 11."

To fix the budget issue, Schroeder focused on increasing memberships. In 2007, there were 160 members; now, there are about 270. Memberships mean revenue for the Chamber, so when memberships were low, the Chamber wasn't able to market or advertise. Schroeder made a plan to change that.

He improved the Chamber's events, particularly the Golf Scramble and the Lakes Area Home and Cabin Show, and as the popularity of those events increased, so did the Chamber's memberships and funds. As funds increased, so did the ability to advertise and market. Schroeder helped establish the Chamber's website, perham.com .

He and the Chamber also structured a package for members that included membership, sponsorships, advertising on the website, and more. He improved communications by curating the Chamber's services, along with general community information, into weekly newsletters, calendars and a local business directory.

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As the Chamber progressed, its office was moved to the City Hall building on Main Street, which is now used as a community hub and information center.

"The move to the (City Hall building) was huge," Waldon said. "We have a huge, great presence there. There are a lot of people who call and stop by… The Chamber has a positive presence in the community."

City Hall Horiz.jpg
The Perham City Hall, where the Chamber's office and community hub is located. (Perham Focus File Photo)

"Dan has managed everything really well," she added. "There hasn't been a year he didn't meet budget, and he's very good at obtaining new members."

According to both Waldon and Schroeder, the Chamber's goal is to always bring more people to the Perham area through events, jobs and general marketing. All the changes and improvements Schroeder made along the way were in the direction of that goal.

"When there's something you've worked on and built for so many years, you want to see it continue," Schroeder said. "We're building every year. It's a good job with good people and a good staff. I enjoyed it… I have a passion for Perham, being from here, and I want to see it succeed."

Learn more about the Chamber by stopping in, calling 218-346-7710, or emailing chamber@perhamcc.com.

"I have to thank our members, board of directors and staff I've had along the way for their support and time and membership," Schroeder said. "Thank you to all of them."

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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