Chamber revamp cuts Hay adrift
A controversial restructuring of the Southland Chamber of Commerce will make its chief executive of 17 years, Richard Hay, redundant, a move that led to the resignation of a former president from the board in protest.
Chamber vice-president Carla Forbes said it was evolving to meet the changing needs of businesses and to more actively engage with regional businesses and local government.
In order to refocus its efforts, it would outsource some of the more specialised roles originally undertaken by the executive officer.
The role of longstanding chief executive Mr Hay would be disestablished.
He was offered a new part-time role but declined and would finish work at the chamber next Friday.
"It was somewhat of a shock and surprise when the new board decided to look at other ways to manage the operation," he said.
He was unsure if the new restructuring would work but time would tell and it might be what was needed.
His role had become a way of life that consumed him - it was not just a job, he said.
Chamber past president Dave Rohan resigned from the board after 10 years when he found out about the restructuring.
In protest, he sent a letter of resignation to chamber president Sean Woodward on August 31.
"I believe the decision to restructure the EO position is too aggressive, too hurried, too risky and made with too little information. I am not prepared to be associated with this decision. I will continue to be a member of the chamber and a supporter of it," his letter said.
Mr Hay was modest and much of his work, which benefited members and Southland, was unheralded, Mr Rohan said.
"Southland business will be poorer in his absence because no-one will be able to replace the depth and breadth of knowledge that he has."
Mr Hay was the face of the chamber and highly respected by his peers in chambers throughout the country, Mr Rohan said.
A new part-time executive role at the chamber would be created.
Ms Forbes said the chamber was disappointed Mr Hay had not accepted the part-time position.
It was regrettable he was leaving because of his knowledge and industry connections and significant contribution, she said.
"During his tenure Richard was instrumental in driving initiatives and relationships with stakeholders within the Southland business community, and we acknowledged his commitment."
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