‘We all learn from one another’

By Mike Lewis
Chris Ardinger, executive director of the Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce in Mercersburg, Pa., since 2015, enjoys a cup of coffee in his office.

Chris Ardinger, executive director of the Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce

 

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Chris Ardinger brings community service and private enterprise experience to his role as executive director of the Tuscarora Area Chamber of Commerce in Mercersburg, Pa.

In the business world, he worked as a front-end manager and “solutions specialist” at Best Buy in Hagerstown, Md., from June 2011 to June 2013. From August 2013 to October 2015, he was  sales and marketing coordinator for Hardell Corp. in Hagerstown. Part of his duties in that job included representing the company at chamber and business networking events.

He officially took the chamber’s reins in October 2015.

On the community service side, he started volunteering with nonprofit organizations at age 10. He ran for public office at age 19 and served on the Tuscarora School District board from December 2011 to June 2016. Since June 2011 he has been president and chief executive officer of the Tuscarora Education Foundation, which provides grant and scholarship opportunities to students.

A 2009 graduate of James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, he received a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Shippensburg (Pa.) University in 2013. He is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration, also from Shippensburg.

 

On a break, is it coffee, tea, soda, water … ?

My usual drink of choice on a break is coffee. I go through at least three cups a day. Although it definitely depends on the day, I also enjoy a nice glass of red wine during a break with friends or a London Fog on a cold day (Earl Grey Tea, honey, vanilla, and milk). Fortunately, our newest business in Mercersburg (One North Coffee & Bake Goods) is right across the street from my office; they are used to seeing me. A good cup of coffee starts the day off right.

An average day for you includes …?

This is one of the reasons that my job is so enjoyable, there is no average day, and every day is unique. On an average day, I am conferring with chamber members to assist them with issues or to help grow their organizations, and I am always trying to plan ahead for upcoming events. When people ask me what it is that I do, I often joke and say the title should be “chief facilitator,” as we help to facilitate partnerships and opportunities. We are an informational resource. Of course, you never know when you might see me hanging lights from a man-lift or driving a tractor around town either. I always sum up the odd jobs by saying “other duties as assigned.” The chamber is a member-serving organization, but we are always focused on community.

What have been the most valuable experiences leading up to your role at the chamber?

At a young age of 10, I started volunteering with various nonprofit organizations; I’ve always enjoyed public service. As a senior in high school, I started a Relay for Life in our community, which allowed me to obtain event-planning experience. At age 19, I ran for public office and served five years on our local school board. Elected office definitely helped toughen my skin. My most valuable experiences have been developing friendships and bonds with some great people along the way. We all learn from one another.

What are your biggest opportunities and challenges in 2018?

Currently, I am enrolled in a master’s of public administration program at Shippensburg University; continuing my education is one of my biggest opportunities for 2018. One of the challenges that I will have to overcome for this year is how to balance work and life. I am involved in many organizations; with work and grad school on top, it is challenging to find free time. There are always tons of opportunities though; you just have to work for them.

Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

On a personal level, I want to find more free time, and get back into running. I would also like to find more time to sit down and read for leisure. From a career standpoint, I’ve always been torn between nonprofit work and the government sector; eventually I would like to work in local government. I am a local government nerd and want to assist communities in good governance practices.

Want to share a cup of coffee with our readers? Send an email to facetime@crossroadsbizjournal.com or call reporter Mike Lewis at 301-791-7482.