The chamber "kept the train on the track" for the five months it was without official leadership last year, said Chairwoman Nancy Gage. But the approval of Mr. Tucker's position a little more than a year ago brought an added spark, she said. The chamber's e-mail list has doubled.
"We have better communication with members, and he's done it by being out and talking with members and treating them as his customers," she said.
The customer-service mind set has led to an improvement in participation at traditional chamber functions, such as A.M. Connection, and resulted in more workshops and seminars for businesses looking to weather a slow economy.
"A number of different paths have come together and converged at the right time," he said. "When the economy is slow, businesses back up and look at the big picture and evaluate their priorities. We're all more conscious of getting back to the basics."
In the past two months the chamber has also re-evaluated its own efforts in the community. For example, Mr. Tucker has fostered communication among business owners on local and state issues.
"They not only have great ideas, but they know how to implement it into great business practices," he said.
Mr. Tucker rounded up support for removal of Blue Laws that prevented some sales on Sundays. His efforts proved instrumental in getting the vote from Aiken County Council members.
Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce president David Jameson, who has served as a mentor to Mr. Tucker in the past year, said those efforts might not have been as unified without Mr. Tucker's ability to listen.
"There are some businesses that are just personality driven, and he's got a good personality and good instincts," Mr. Jameson said. "He's out of the office, he sees trends and he figures out how to deliver those with value."
Mr. Tucker said his first-year mission included getting the "internal ducks in a row." He plans to focus on membership and growing programs in year two.
"I don't see us really pulling out of this economic funk, so there are still some tough times ahead," he said. "We'll continue to operate and help businesses reassess how they do business so they can see how they'll operate not just next year, but five and 10 years down the line."
Reach Julia Sellers at (706) 823-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.