Exclusive Interview: Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Canter to retire

Published On January 8, 2015 | By Rob Arias | In the Neighborhood, Interviews, Local Business, News, News & Commentary

Bob Canter, the President & CEO of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce since 2001, announced his retirement yesterday effective January 31st. “The time to retire comes for everyone,” Canter stated, “and as most people who have retired will tell you, retirement is at least as much a personal decision as it is a professional one.” Canter and his wife are planning to relocate to north Florida upon his retirement. The Chamber’s Board of Directors will conduct a search for a new CEO.

I caught up with Bob Canter for a brief interview on “what’s next?”:

Any additional information you can provide about the timing or your decision?
Nothing specific; just “felt” like the time to move on…I turned 64 years old [today], and at a certain point in your life you realize you only have a certain number of years left…I wanted to be able to enjoy my semi-retirement while I am still relatively healthy and mentally and physically intact. But am also looking for a quieter, slower pace of life.

What are you going to do in retirement?
I’m actually calling it “semi-retirement” after we are settled, I do plan on finding a job, at least on a part-time basis and possibly more, depending on the job. I still have too much energy to just sit around and do nothing. I will look for work in a business association/non-profit organization, or possibly in writing or teaching.

Any hobbies or passions that you’ll be pursuing in retirement (Golf)?
I am NOT a golfer and have no intentions of taking that game up at this stage of my life! I am active in our synagogue and we will be joining one in Tallahassee after we are settled there. I was a teacher in our Religious School and hope to find a job in that area. I also write, produce and emcee trivia contests as fundraising events for non-profit organizations. I love baseball history and plan on joining the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and do more creative writing, maybe gardening.

Any reasons on choosing Florida?
My wife was raised in Tallahassee and still has a lot of family in the area. That is why we are moving to that area, as well as for the LOT less expensive cost of living. California is NOT a very affordable state for retirees or for anyone unless you are wealthy.

Anything you’ll miss most about Emeryville and the business community?
Yes, the excitement, the energy and constant streams of new ideas and thinking that is a hallmark of the Bay Area. Of course, the biggest thing I will miss is the people; the many relationships I have established here. You have to be a “people person” to be in the Chamber of Commerce profession and I have met and worked with literally hundreds of people over my last 13-1/2 years here.

What do you think the city should target for their search to replace you and what his/her biggest obstacles will be?
The Chamber’s Board of Directors will conduct the search for the new CEO. They need to find someone with Chamber of Commerce experience; someone who is used to running a small, not-for-profit organization. The new CEO needs to have a THOROUGH knowledge of California local government and has to have good computer skills and communication skills. Someone who is upbeat, positive and optimistic. A “people person” who enjoys meeting and working with a wide array of different people.


PRESS RELEASE:
Bob Canter, the President & CEO of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce, today announced that he is retiring from the Chamber at the end of January.

Canter was appointed as the first-ever President & CEO of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce in July, 2001. He officially started on Monday, July 23rd of that year. The Emeryville Chamber of Commerce was incorporated as a 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation on May 22, 1986.

“The time to retire comes for everyone,” Canter stated, “and as most people who have retired will tell you, retirement is at least as much a personal decision as it is a professional one.”

“I felt, as I approach my 64th year, that it was time to take a new path in my life. I love the Chamber of Commerce profession and what it stands for, but it is a demanding job, and I believe that it is in the best interests of the Chamber of Commerce, me, and my family to step down now and allow the Chamber Board of Directors to recruit a new CEO to help keep the Chamber of Commerce moving forward.”

The Emeryville Chamber of Commerce has seen many changes during Canter’s tenure as CEO, including: The establishment of the Chamber’s Healthy City Initiative Program; a regular schedule of Business Networking Mixers; creation of a political action committee, EmPAC; a new website; publication of three new Chamber of Commerce Business Directories; a move to a larger, more accessible office; a contract with the City of Emeryville for economic development consulting; a 25th Anniversary Business Recognition Event; and recognition by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a “QuakeSmart” Chamber for the role the Chamber has played in promoting emergency preparedness.

Albert Repola, owner of Ruby’s Café in Emeryville and a long-time Emeryville resident and the Chamber’s current Chairman of the Board stated: “We salute Bob for his 13-1/2 years of service to the Chamber of Commerce and the Emeryville community and we wish him all the best in his retirement. We will have some big shoes to fill in finding a new CEO to help guide the Chamber of Commerce into the future.”

Canter continued: “I want to thank the Chamber’s Board of Directors, and especially our past Chairs of the Board, for all of their many years of dedication and service to the Chamber of Commerce. I wish to especially thank our current Chairman, Albert Repola, who has donated an inordinate amount of his time and energy to the Emeryville community, where he both lives and has a business, and to the Chamber of Commerce. I could not have done this job without the unselfish dedication of our current and past Chairs and all of our Board members.”

Canter and his wife are planning to relocate to north Florida upon his retirement. The Chamber’s Board of Directors will conduct a search for a new CEO.

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

Leave a Reply