Bridging the Gap
Westfield Chamber of Commerce Announces Nick Verhoff as Interim President
Photographer / Amy Payne
Nick Verhoff, recently appointed Interim President of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, brings extensive knowledge of the Chamber and the Westfield community having served on the Chamber’s board of directors as well as his tenure with the Westfield Washington School Corporation.
Verhoff, originally from Ohio, is still an avid Buckeye fan despite having resided in Westfield for 24 years. He started his teaching career 43 years ago. He went on to become an administrator for the Westfield school system for nearly 20 years, serving the last dozen years as Director of Business & Operations.
“I was the budget guy,” he says. Being on Westfield’s Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, enabled him to advocate for local business owners and community members.
When Verhoff announced his retirement after more than four decades in education, he fielded a number of job offers from folks who were eager to utilize his skill set.
“I told my wife that though I couldn’t see myself sitting at home, by the same token, whatever I did post-retirement needed to be something that suited me,” Verhoff says.
So, when the current President of the Westfield Chamber of Commerce revealed that he was leaving, board members encouraged Verhoff to fill in as interim director.
“I know how much of an impact good businesses can make on the overall community,” says Verhoff, who has worked diligently to create solid relationships with a number of business owners through the years.
It was the perfect fit.
“I feel I have a pulse on the community as I’ve been a strong advocate for business owners for so many years and in so many areas,” Verhoff says. “I understand that the more prosperous businesses you have, the better tax base you have and that impacts the residents.”
Verhoff, who expects to remain in this role for a year or two, likes being involved in the growth and planning of a community.
“We feel this is a great opportunity for the Chamber to bring in Nick while the board searches for a permanent president,” says Chairman of the Board Rob Garrett. “He’s been highly involved in this community for many years and has a passion for the work the Chamber provides to the businesses of Westfield.”
Verhoff hopes to help those businesses find solutions for some of the issues they are facing. For instance, the city has a huge need to expand its workforce given that both residential and commercial has exploded in recent years. When he started with the Westfield school system, 3,300 students were enrolled. Now, two decades later, that number has grown to a whopping 8,000. The Chamber’s membership is booming as well.
“There was a time where if we got a half dozen new members in a year, we thought we were doing well,” Verhoff says. “Now if we don’t get that many members in a month, we’re wondering what’s going wrong.”
Though growth has the potential to create new problems, Verhoff isn’t complaining.
“I’d much rather be dealing with growth problems in any entity as opposed to worrying about survival,” he says. “If you stop growing, you start dying. Westfield is anything but that.”
Verhoff loves the Westfield community because of Grand Park, the trails and, of course, the school systems, which is what originally led him here. The best part, though, is the people.
“I like how everyone here treats one another,” he says. “They’re great people who draw more great people. In today’s world, that’s saying something.”
He’s pleased to report that the Chamber has never been more vibrant and more in tune with the local community and local government. He recognizes, however, the importance of managing that growth, too.
“That’s the exciting part — strategic planning to determine how best to meet the needs of our membership going forward,” he says.
His wife, Bonnie, is pleased to see her husband hard at work doing what he loves.
“Besides, she works from home so the last thing she wants is me at home all day long,” he says with a chuckle. “She knows where my interests and energies lie.”
Right here, in the heart of Westfield.