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Photo provided by DAVE LIEBENOW
Photo provided by DAVE LIEBENOW

Five Questions: Dave Liebenow

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After 28 years of working with 3M in sales and marketing management, Dave Liebenow has moved to the Ozarks and was recently named executive director of the Table Rock Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. After falling in love with the area as a tourist, Liebenow hopes to promote economic development and improve connections between lake area businesses and residents.

Q: During your career with 3M, you managed a multimillion-dollar advertising budget. How did you climb the ranks?
A: I started with the company in 1981 in sales in the Chicago area. Within a year, I moved to the New York City area as a key account sales representative for the consumer businesses of 3M. 3M has 45 divisions and one of the consumer businesses is on the stationery side, which at that time was just introducing Post-it notes. Now, it’s an everyday word. Back then, it was not a known product. And then I moved into marketing and moved to St. Paul, Minn., where 3M has its headquarters. I managed the ScotchGard fabric-protector business on the retail side for about four years. That was my entry into marketing, and we had a ($4 million) advertising budget.

Q: What was most challenging as a 3M manager?
A: My last job with 3M was managing Granger, which is a big industrial distributor, and my role there was managing the relationship between 22 3M divisions and Granger. It was like managing two gorillas – and both of them were males. There was nobody doing that job when I started it, so it was like breaking new ground. We had that kind of relationship with Wal-Mart on the consumer side, so I was bringing what I had learned from that experience to the industrial side.

Q: Why the Springfield area, and why now?
A: My first visit to Springfield was in 1990 – that was here, at the lake. Some friends were familiar with the area and we came down with a boat. We stayed at one of the resorts and immediately fell in love with the area. About 12 years ago, we bought property on the lake because we determined that this was the place my wife and I were going to retire. I had traveled all over the country with 3M in various jobs, and we had checked into some other places like San Diego and New Mexico, and we kept coming back here.

Q: How long have you been involved with the Table Rock chamber?
A: Two years. I was offered an early out at 3M. The economy was suffering and 3M was downsizing. I joined the chamber and was going to be volunteering as an ambassador. It was a way for me to connect with the business community. … I had volunteered my services to the board to help facilitate strategic planning sessions as they looked for a new director. I thought about it for a bit, and said, “I should go for this job.”

Q: What are your goals for the chamber?
A: Members come from Branson, Hollister, Cape Fair, Crane – we have a broad reach. A focus of this particular chamber is to be a steward of the lake, and we promote water quality. Another area that I think this chamber needs to promote is economic development around the lake. In the past, this chamber has been focused almost exclusively around tourism. Tourism is extremely important, but we also need to provide support for all the businesses here and help them grow and connect with not only the visitors but also with the residents.[[In-content Ad]]

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