Q&A with chamber chair Paul Quantz
Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 06:00 am
On Feb. 1, St. Albert lawyer Paul Quantz will be officially sworn in as the 2014 chair of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce.
Quantz has been practicing law in communities across Alberta since 1975. He now owns a firm, Quantz Law Group, on Perron Street, where he works with his daughter.
Born and raised in Didsbury, Alta., Quantz said heís an Albertan by heart and Ė in his role as chamber chair Ė is looking forward to advocating for local businesses locally, provincially and federally.
The Gazette sat down with Quantz to find out more about his background and how he views his role with the chamber.
Q: Tell us about your background.
A: I graduated in 1974 from the University of Alberta law school and was admitted to the bar the following year and except for the first two years in Red Deer, I practiced mostly in rural Alberta.
So I am a bit of a country bumpkin. I enjoy the outdoor life and the city of St. Albert is for me a perfect city in that it has all the services that you may ever want to have and yet itís not so urban that you canít get anywhere or canít know people. I am very happy to be here.
Q: Have you always worked in law?
A: A little known fact about my background is that I was ordained as a pastor in Athabasca for about six years while I was still practicing law there and led a small church of maybe 120 Ė hence my acquaintance with public speaking.
There have been a lot of jokes about that, the incompatibility of the two professions. I didnít find them so. In either you are basically dealing with the human condition and so one worked very well with the other. I just had to make sure I kept my law office going so that when somebody came into the church with a legal problem I could say that we should speak downtown.
Q: When did you first get involved with the St. Albert chamber?
A: I moved my law practice here from Athabasca in 2007 and the firm that I bought here had been previously involved with the chamber. So it seemed a natural thing to sign up. And then from there I was invited to sit on the executive as the second vice-chair and then first vice-chair last year and chair this year.
Itís been a tremendous experience for me, particularly coming into the community, to find out the nuts and bolts of whatís going on in St. Albert in a very short time.
Q: In a nutshell, what is your role as chair?
A: As a chair you represent the chamber of commerce and the membership of the chamber of commerce. Itís important to be seen and to make presentations on various organizational levels particularly where they affect the strategic focus areas of the chamber.
You go to a lot of meetings. Itís not just our own organization. We support other chambers. For example the Edmonton chamber puts on events from time to time. And the same with the Sturgeon County Business Breakfast Ė we are supportive of a lot of different areas or organizations in the area. And my goal is to try and attend as many events as is humanly possible.
Q: Why do you think you were chosen to be chair?
A: I am not sure who saw what in me when I was nominated to start the process as chair. Iíve spoken a number of times publicly. I am not terrified by the heavens to stand up and give a speech or presentation.
And Iíve always been one that has been looking for the good in people and the good in a situation. Everyone has something good to bring to a situation and if you look for it you can find it. And then you can deal with those things that you are not necessarily happy with. Thatís part of my approach and that will continue in the coming year.
Q: What does the chamber mean to you?
A: There is a lot of networking going on at the (lunch) meetings and the speakers are at the cutting edge of whatís going on in the community. You get to hear what goes on in those luncheons but as a member of the executive you get to know the underlying issues in the community and what is happening behind the scenes.
You get to know personalities, your local politicians, on a first name basis. And because of the number of times you get together and have meetings with them they are of course interested in what goes on in the business community as well.
It is about getting connected with your community but it also gives me an opportunity to advance the business agenda in both local and provincial governments as well.
Q: Seeing all the new development moving into the community, do you expect the chamber will grow this year?
A: My dream is to top 1,000 members this year. We are at 875 and we just love not only to retain members but to get over the 1,000 member mark. Iíll be working hard at trying to get that done.
Itís a member organization and when I tell people outside that our chamber has 875 members they are just flabbergasted. Itís a good participation of the business community and I think that speaks well of the vibrancy of the business community here.