Dom Mancuso blames Don Oszli — with a good measure of gratitude.
Mancuso, who is general manager and a partner at Red Deer’s Northland Construction Supplies, became chair of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce executive committee three weeks ago. That was four years after Oszli — who is managing partner at Red Deer accounting firm Heywood Holmes and Partners LLP — held the same position.
Both men also served as president of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce; Mancuso in 2009-10 and Oszli in 2002-03.
“He is the guy who got me going in the Chamber in the first place,” said Mancuso of his longtime friend.
Oszli convinced Mancuso of the importance of the Chamber movement, and urged him to pursue leadership positions with the business organization at the local and provincial level.
“It’s been so much fun,” said Mancuso of the experience, adding that it’s been rewarding in other ways as well.
“You’re dealing with some smart people who are talented individuals.”
His works with the Red Deer and Alberta Chambers have also kept Mancuso on top of important business issues, he said.
“You’re constantly reading and scanning the newspapers to make sure you’re up to snuff with what’s going on in the business world.”
But Mancuso also believes that chambers of commerce play an important role in helping businesses and speaking up for them. Small enterprises in particular need this support, and he wants to ensure it’s there.
“I think about my kids and other businesses that come after me. Who’s going to stand there and look after them?
“That was my motivation, to give something back as a business owner.”
Beyond advocacy work, chambers of commerce provide a variety of benefits to their members, said Mancuso.
These include networking opportunities, and a chance for business owners to learn from each other.
“Sometimes it’s not the big picture, it’s the small stuff about getting people in the doors.”
Mancuso has already spent several years on the Alberta Chambers of Commerce executive committee, including as policy chair last year.
He moved into the top position a year ahead of schedule when an executive committee member ahead of him stepped aside for personal reasons.
Mancuso said he was ready for his new responsibilities and has lots of support. The manager of communications and policy is Jonathan Seib, a former policy co-ordinator with the Red Deer Chamber.
The biggest issue on the Alberta Chambers’ plate right now is the province’s tight labour market, said Mancuso. And that problem has been exacerbated by newly announced changes to the federal government’s temporary foreign worker program.
“We will continue to fight that because really, out of all of our members, that’s probably the number 1 topic of discussion and concern.”
Another priority is ensuring the needs of the Alberta Chambers’ 128 member chambers are looked after, he said.
“We’re about taking care of them.”