Roy Gugliotta Leads Tualatin Chamber into Post-COVID Era

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Roy Gugliotta hit the ground running when he started at the Tualatin Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 11 and hasn’t slowed down yet. (BARBARA SHERMAN/TUALATIN LIFE)

New Tualatin Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Roy Gugliotta has been so busy since starting work Jan. 11 that he hasn’t yet had time to change his voice mail message that still tells callers they have reached the office of former CEO Linda Moholt.

“I get chastised, but I’ve been running since day one,” Gugliotta said. “It all came together so quickly after I got the job the second week in December. The board wanted me to come when Linda was still here, although four days was not enough time to catch up on the 12 years she was here. 

“The reason I was hired was that the board wanted to make changes because of the COVID situation. We lost all our events, which took a big chunk out of our budget. The board wanted someone to put programs in place, which gave me a clear purpose for being here: To build the chamber, serve our members and work with the city.”

Gugliotta predicted the next two years will be a game-changer for the chamber to bring in different income streams and come up with programs to satisfy its members’ needs.

“In my third or fourth week, (board Chair) Susan (Noack) came in and said, ‘What are your plans?’” Gugliotta said. “The board was anxious to get going, and rightly so. I wrote a 16-page paper, and the board said, ‘OK, but what are the specifics?’”

Phase one is a list of objectives and a score card to keep track of them, but Gugliotta also has a long-term view as well. He believes the future lies in focusing on the positive and transforming the way businesses market themselves.

“Any group has its strengths and weaknesses, and you build on the strengths,” Gugliotta said. “We are looking at a couple of good programs. Small businesses are coming to us to help build their businesses and to market and promote them to the community and build credibility. The citizens don’t see the difference between chamber and non-chamber businesses, and we are a bit of a Better Business Bureau.”

Gugliotta is a believer in the CARES philosophy: Customers Always Receive Excellent Service. 

“When you come to Tualatin, you will receive excellent service,” he said. “Chamber members used to go through a service-training program, and chamber members have always been of service to the community, and we want to get back to that. We also want to work on sustainability and awareness. The program is in the infant stages, and we have a couple businesses already interested in this.”

He added that the way the chamber does business is changing.  

“The internet is the way we do business nowadays so how do we build a better mousetrap?” he said. “We want to make Tualatin a destination, and we want citizens to go to the chamber website to find a business, whether it is a garden center or a restaurant.”

Gugliotta said the chamber is in the process of creating an online community, and he is talking to a couple of web designers “to take what we’re doing today and expand on it. Brick-and-mortar businesses still need a strong online presence, but they don’t have the money to do it. That’s where the chamber comes in.”

One of the philosophies Gugliotta has followed over the years was posted in the 1960s by Austrian management consultant Peter Drucker, who wrote that principles are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not resolving problems. 

“I don’t talk about problems, I talk about opportunities,” Gugliotta said. “Also, it’s fun to come up with ideas, but at some point, you have to implement them. A lot of business owners struggle with this. Good managers don’t just throw spaghetti at the wall, they roll up their sleeves and dive in.”

Gugliotta grew up in Ohio and graduated from college there before the Army sent him to California. 

“I always wanted to get an MBA, but instead I got experience turning around businesses,” he said. “They were teetering, and while I didn’t have success every time, it was a learning experience.”

After a move to Arizona, Gugliotta was CEO of the Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce for 13 years. Ironically, one of Camp Verde’s annual events is the Crawdad Festival, which should serve Gugliotta well in Tualatin. Another of Gugliotta’s jobs before Tualatin was CEO of the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce in wine country north of the Bay Area in California. 

Gugliotta was hired by the Tualatin chamber without actually traveling to Oregon for an in-person interview, but he had visited the state before as a tourist. While he waits for his wife to finish packing and move here so they can do some touristy things together, he has plenty to keep him busy at the Tualatin chamber. 

“I’m almost a workaholic,” he confessed.