Laabs to leave Hartford Chamber

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

April 30, 2015

HARTFORD - Barb Laabs has resigned after five years as executive director of the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce.

Laabs said her last day in the office will be May 7.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute here, but I just think it’s time to do something different,” Laabs said. “I need a new challenge.”

Laabs will become the director of marketing for Richelieu Foods in Beaver Dam.

“This is bittersweet really because I’ve loved working here and working with all of the different people and organizations. I’ve had some incredible conversations and experiences with many different people,” Laabs said. “But it’s time to start a new chapter in my life.”

Laabs said she’s proud of the many things the chamber has accomplished since she began as director. One was the chamber’s move to a new, more prominent location.

“We’ve had some really great events, the After Hours programs and many other things,” Laabs said. “I feel really good about the chamber’s future.”

Laabs said she will continue to stop, live and play in Hartford and the surrounding community. Now she said it’s up to the chamber board to start the process and select someone to succeed her.

“The board has already been discussing the process,” Laabs said.

Chamber Board of Directors President Jason Wix said Laabs will be missed and accomplished a great deal in her five years as director.

“It’s difficult to lose someone with her experience and skills,” Wix said. “We just hired an assistant for the office only about 60 days ago and there will be a void with Barb gone. We’ve already started working toward filling her position.”

Wix said chamber officials hope to fill the job quickly, but they’ll take as long as needed to find the right person.

“We’ve already put out feelers to possible candidates we might be interested in,” Wix said. “We’ve already received one resume and we are going to post the job online.”

Wix said the chamber has already had discussions with a firm that could aid them in the new director search.

“It’s hard to see Barb go, but she wants to have as smooth a transition as possible,” Wix said. “She’s willing to help us in any way to ease through the situation. I’m confident we’ll find the right person who will be a good fit.”

Laabs has worked for 27 years in the chamber of commerce field including time at the West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce.