MCALLEN, Texas – A prominent McAllen businessman has quit the city’s chamber of commerce in the aftermath of Steve Ahlenius’ abrupt resignation as president and CEO of the organization.
Ahlenius has led the McAllen Chamber of Commerce for 24 years. He read a statement announcing he was leaving the organization at a board meeting on Oct. 19.
The following day the news was made public via a Chamber press release. A board meeting was held on Monday of this week to discuss the matter further and another one is scheduled for next Tuesday.
Bob Boggus (pictured above), owner of Boggus Ford Lincoln, announced his resignation in a letter sent to fellow board members earlier this week.
In the letter, Boggus, a supporter of Ahlenius, said he would like the Chair of the McAllen Chamber, Annette Franz to resign. Boggus is the immediate past chair of the board.
Franz, chair of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, did not return two phone calls or an email from the Rio Grande Guardian as we sought comment from her for this story. Her husband, John David Franz is an attorney based in McAllen and a former mayor of the City of Hidalgo.
Both Annette Franz and John David Franz are mentioned in the Boggus letter.
Bob Boggus letter:
I come to you after much deliberation to say I am resigning from the board of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. I don’t feel like I could be an effective board member after a home visit from the chairwoman and her husband strongly suggesting that I write a letter to the board apologizing for my actions. After considering this for some time, I decided to stick with my convictions. There’s a big difference regretting doing something versus regretting having to do something that one believes is right. Anyone who knows me knows that I would not act as I did unless I thought it was truly the right thing to do.
After the special board meeting Monday, John David reached out to me by text and I went to his office to express my sadness about the whole situation. This whole ordeal has been very emotional for me as I have tried my best to get Steve and Annette to work together.
I am truly sorry to have been put in a position to ask Annette to resign. I felt it was necessary after she gave every indicationthat she did not trust Steve and would not work with him. And I felt I had a moral obligation to help restore their working relationship because it was I who nominated her for Chair-Elect. And I really believe keeping Steve as President/CEO would be the best for the Chamber, Chamber Members and the City of McAllen.
He put his heart and soul into representing McAllen for over 24 years. And yes, he has his faults as we all do. But I have realized over the last two years to try to put things in perspective as we dealt with my wife’s cancer and the loss of our only son. Sometimes we need to step back and look at the big picture. Maybe by-laws don’t supersede accomplishments.
I know, as many of you probably do too, that there are many Chamber Members, including past board members and past chairs, that would like to see Steve back in his position. My last wish is that you would consider seeing if that could happen.
I have loved working on the Chamber Board these past years, and I’ve got to meet great people I never have had the opportunity to know. I’ve enjoyed working with the current board and I am sorry I will not get to know you all even better. I wish you all a successful year. My wish is for Annette and Steve to be able to work together for the good of McAllen. That is still my hope.
P.S. I would not ignore the statement by a board member pertaining to the staff. I would encourage the board as a whole to look into it. The experience and dedication of the staff plays a huge part in the Chamber’s success. Their absence would be devastating to the operations.
Boggus Ford Lincoln
Bob McCreery letter
Boggus is not the only prominent businessman in McAllen to write about Ahlenius’ resignation. Bob McCreery, president of McCreery Aviation Co., is former member of the McAllen Chamber. He wrote this letter to the McAllen Chamber board members:
McAllen Chamber Board Members,
I am writing in support of Steve Ahlenius.
I was saddened to hear of Steve’s resignation from the Chamber, it’s my understanding he’s leaving due to some disagreements with some board members.
I must say during my time on the Chamber Board, as a board member and past president,Steve was the consummate professional in running and representing the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. We had an exceptional working relationship with Steve and his professional staff.His accomplishments over the years at the Chamber are numerous and the envy of other chambers around the state. Steve’s knowledge and connections have been invaluable for the McAllen Chamber.
I understand the board will be meeting next week in regards to Steve’s status, I highly encourage you to keep Steve Ahlenius as the leader of the McAllen Chamber.
A concerned citizen, chamber member and past president –
McCreery Aviation Co.
Jorge Salcines letter
Another McAllen businessman to weigh in on the Ahlenius resignation is Jorge Salcines, president of McAllen Sports, Inc. The former McAllen Chamber board member sent this letter to the current McAllen Chamber board of directors:
McAllen Chamber Board Members,
I am saddened to hear that Steve resigned from the Chamber. I have worked with Steve and his incredible staff for over 20 years.
As a Chamber Board member, I saw firsthand the quality of work and knowledge Steve brings to our city. I have always respected and admired his work ethic and commitment to the city of McAllen. His leadership has made the McAllen Chamber the envy of other local and state chambers.
We have always been the Nike of Chambers, so far ahead no one could come close. His resignation is a massive loss for the McAllen Chamber and our city.
His love for this city, his professionalism and accomplishments, his trained staff, and his relationship with business leaders in our community is what has made our Chamber what it is today. I cannot fathom how this board has allowed such a qualified and respected leader to resign. I urge you to do all you can to get Steve back.
A concerned McAllen businessman and past Chamber Board Member,
President of McAllen Sports Inc.
McAllen Chamber press release
The McAllen Chamber of Commerce, with a membership of 1,300 and a staff of 18 was founded in 1925. Blanca Cardenas, the McAllen Chamber’s vice president of membership Services, sent this press release about the Ahlenius resignation on Oct. 20:
The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announces the resignation of Steve Ahlenius, President and CEO, after nearly twenty-four years of service. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board will immediately commence a search, with the assistance of an executive search firm, to identify a successor for Mr. Ahlenius.
“The Board respects Mr. Ahlenius’ decision, we recognize that there is an experienced and knowledgeable staff in place. I am confident that the staff will continue to operate the existing programs while the Board undertakes the process of selecting a replacement,” said Annette Franz, Chairman of the Board.
“I have loved leading the McAllen Chamber of Commerce for almost 24 years,” said Ahlenius. “It has been an honor and a privilege. I have been blessed with numerous opportunities to create value for our Chamber members and our community. We have been fortunate to build a new chamber building; to launch a Creative Incubator in 2005, the first Incubator to be launched in the Valley; and, to renovate an old church building in the Center City, which is now an event center. We launched the first food truck park in the Valley. We have developed an ecosystem to help launch new startups and innovation. In fact, we have helped launch over 200 new startup businesses. We are one of two Chambers in the U.S. that has a four-color digital press. We have launched numerous exciting programs, such as MXLAN, the Santa Fe Wine Classic, and the Sizzling in the Tropics BBQ Cook-off.”
Ahlenius added, “McAllen is a great city and we have a great Chamber of Commerce. We are one of the very few Chambers in the country to have received the 5-Star Accreditation by the US Chamber of Commerce, twice. The staff is extremely professional and they are the ones who make everything happen for our organization. It has been a wonderful experience, living and working in McAllen. I love McAllen, but it is time for a change.”
Editor’s Note: Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports contributed to this story from McAllen, Texas.
Editor’s Note: If other McAllen Chamber of Commerce board members or business leaders in the city wish to express their views on the current situation at the chamber, please call Rio Grande Guardian editor Steve Taylor at (956) 605-9380 or email [email protected] Or call Ron Whitlock at (956) 778-7903 or email him at [email protected] Thank you!
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