Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Natalee DeHart named new Berlin Chamber president

(March 26, 2015) More than 30 business owners and professionals gathered in Berlin last Thursday for the 2015 Berlin Chamber of Commerce awards dinner at Si’culi Rustic Italian Kitchen.
Mayor Gee Williams, Councilmembers Lisa Hall and Troy Purnell, as well as Town Administrator Laura Allen, were on hand for the three-hour event that began with enough food to satisfy even the most ravenous Italian grandmother.
Natalee DeHart of Good Clean Fun Life took over duties as chamber president during the ceremony, replacing Tom Sholtis.
Later, four major awards were given to business and civic leaders.
Bleached Butterfly won the New Business Award and Helen Wiley, of Church Mouse, took home the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Craft beer pioneers Burley Oak Brewing Co. were given the Business Philanthropy Award and Lisa Challenger, director of Worcester County Tourism, took home the Reese F. Cropper III Bright Idea Award.
Challenger was credited during the ceremony as a key figure in bringing the “Coolest Small Town” designation to Berlin.
Williams, who gave the principal address, said the current era of prosperity in Berlin did not happen overnight.  
“I think we’ve been on the right track for a long, long time,” he said. “Now we have to think about the future that we want to pass on to the next generation.”
This month the town concluded a series of strategic planning meetings led by facilitator Christine Becker, who Williams called “one of the top facilitators in the nation.”
“After the whole experience was done, planning sessions, getting all this wonderful information, then four very successful sessions where we had unbelievable turnout … the neat thing was [Becker] said in her entire professional experience she had never seen such well-attended strategic planning sessions … and she had never seen so much positive attitude and she had never seen so much energy,” Williams said. “We have so much to be grateful for.”
Williams said the most rewarding thing about the meetings, from his standpoint, was that the outcome of the sessions “reconfirmed what we believed we thought we knew about Berlin.”
“We’re in this together,” Williams said. “We may differ on the course … but [on] the destination we are firmly on the same page.”
Williams talked about his job taking him to other towns across the Eastern Shore, where he has seen many formerly vibrant communities that have “forgotten where they came from.”
Berlin, on the other hand, has a shared sense of what quality of life is, Williams said.
“Obviously, we have to be financially prudent, obviously we need to be financially secure … but our quality of life is much more important to us as a community value than the quality of our individual bank accounts,” he said.
Williams advised the members of the chamber to take time out and reflect on what it means to be in business in Berlin in 2015.
“You’re working so hard every day to make your business succeed,” he said. “Every now and then I ask you to take a deep breath and say, ‘Would you rather make twice as much money and be operating in downtown Baltimore?’ Here your customers are your friends, your guests are people who come back to see you year after year regardless of whether they come from Delaware or they come from New York City. We are so lucky. I just don’t want us to take it for granted.”
Williams spoke about a time of change, growth and “rising expectations” in Berlin.
“It’s our job as community, it’s our job as a family in Berlin to balance these many hopes and dreams with what we’ve always had, which is a finite amount of human resources and a finite amount of financial resources,” he said. “Just because those resources may be limited, don’t let them limit your dreams.”
“Be a concierge,” Williams said, of other businesses in Berlin.
“If you take that approach to your business in this community, every business in town has a minimum of 50 or more people helping you succeed, and you don’t have to pay them a damned dime,” he said.
Williams closed on the notion that Berlin was once “a classic southern plantation,” waxing philosophical on just how far the town has come.
“Today … we’ll tolerate just about anything except intolerance. That’s a hell of a long ways from a plantation,” he said. “As much as we should be proud of what has occurred during the last two decades … the last generation, please know the best is yet to come.”