The former president of the Denison Area Chamber of Commerce said he was not a good fit for the organization. Ken Higdon’s remarks come one day after the announcement of his departure following just seven months on the job. And the Chamber board’s president agreed with Higdon’s assessment on Tuesday.
“My management style, my vision, did not fit well,” Higdon said Tuesday. “We thought we could make it work out, but it just wasn’t a good fit.”
The Chamber officially announced Higdon’s departure in a news release issued Monday afternoon. In the release, Higdon said he planned to not only leave the Chamber, but also the chamber management industry.
“After a lot of thought and consideration and over 20 years in the Chamber Management business, I have decided to retire from the Chamber of Commerce Industry and the Denison Area Chamber of Commerce,” Higdon said in the release. “I have been blessed to lead the Chamber here for the past 6 months. I want to thank the Board for giving me the opportunity to serve and all the members and volunteers who have helped the Chamber and most especially the staff whose dedication and loyalty is beyond question.”
In Tuesday’s interview, Higdon said his last day at the Chamber was on Friday, and he has since started working with Ashley Furniture in setting up its new Sherman location. Once the store opens, Higdon said he will stay on board working within sales.
Chamber Board President Jason Taylor said he could not comment on what led to Higdon’s departure, but mirrored the former president’s comments on it not being a good for for either party.
“The fit wasn’t what we were looking for, which means we have to start our search over again,” Taylor said. “It is disappointing, but it is what it is.”
Despite the new job, Higdon said he still had difficulty leaving the career path and industry in which he served for a quarter century.
“It’s hard to leave it because it becomes your identity,” he said, noting he has worked previously in interior design.
Higdon said he first started considering leaving the Chamber on June 10, on what would be the seven-month mark for his time with the organization. Higdon said lifestyle and health played a part in the decision, and he recently has been focusing on losing weight.
“It is a change of lifestyle, and it a lot less stress,” he said about his new position.
With the new job, Higdon said he plans to spend more time with his family as well.
Higdon joined the Denison Chamber in November following a nearly 10-month search for a new president. The Denison Chamber conducted two separate searches for candidates for the position before choosing Higdon for the position. Before joining Denison, Higdon served as the president of the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce.
Throughout the initial two searches, officials were looking for a candidate with both chamber management and tourism experience, as the Denison Chamber also operates the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. With the search starting anew, Taylor said officials would need to take a longer look at what skill set the new Chamber president might need.
In the interim, Membership and Special Events Director Shelly Kisel will serve as the acting manager. Taylor said there could be an opportunity for the Chamber to recruit from within for the vacancy, but said there would have to be interest.