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Chamber expo gives businesses chance to show off what they sell
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Phil Dennis, of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, talks with Amy Booth Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, at the Gainesville Civic Center during the annual Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. Even though Dennis was not selling any products at the booth, he said he was trying to put a face on the agency’s efforts to address hunger in the community. - photo by Scott Rogers

Phil Dennis wasn’t selling or pushing any products, but he still hoped to get a message out Thursday, Feb. 15, at the annual Business Expo at the Gainesville Civic Center.

“We have a need, and here is the manpower to help solve that need,” he said, waving his hand at the mass of people filling the center’s ballroom.

Dennis, community outreach coordinator for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank off Calvary Industrial Drive in southeast Hall, said he was “just trying to put a face” on the agency’s efforts to address hunger in the community.

The food bank was one of 60-plus organizations, groups and businesses at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce free event, talking to potential customers, showing off products and giving away pens and candy.

“We’re here also to educate folks,” said Bre Simmons, elder care coordinator for Kimbrough Law.

She said “there’s a lot of things people don’t know” about the firm’s areas of practice, including tax and estate planning, asset protection and long-term care financing.

The firm has offices in Gainesville and Athens.

Aaron Goebel, sales manager for Aerocom Systems in Flowery Branch, talked about his company’s efforts to reach more local customers for Aerocom’s pneumatic tube systems.

Home Depot, the company’s biggest customer, uses the equipment to “move money from the registers to the cash office,” Goebel said.

“Most of our customers are not local, and that’s hard on the business,” he said. “It’s expensive to travel. We have guys (based) around the country, but they still have to travel.”

The chamber event “is just a way to highlight a variety of businesses, whether it’s retail, health care, restaurants or a car dealer, you name it,” said Kit Dunlap, chamber president and CEO.

“This is an opportunity to meet and greet and network in a short period of time.”

The expo, billed by the chamber as the largest trade show in Northeast Georgia, aims to highlight “the many great products and services available in Greater Hall County,” an event flyer states.

In addition to exhibitors greeting people from their tables, the event also featured door prizes, drawings and giveaways. Many people arrived at the event via a free shuttle service from the civic center’s lower parking lot.

One event highlight was Bob Swoszowski, the owner/operator of 13 McDonald’s restaurants in Northeast Georgia, speaking at a luncheon.

He talked about how he got into the restaurant business and otherwise encouraged his audience to follow several principles to survive in business, including persevering and exercising patience.

Swoszowski also cautioned about about emphasizing profit over service.

“If you provide a service, profit is going to take care of itself,” he told a packed room of area business leaders, including some of his restaurant managers.

Swoszowski said that even though his age “is closer to 80 than 70, I’m having too much fun to retire.”

He urged others to pursue work they enjoy as well.

“If you don’t like what you’re doing, make a change,” Swoszowski said. “Life can really develop for you.”

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