Growing Chamber, Local Business Passion for Glueck
Stephen Glueck is one of the foremost experts on business development in the South Mountain and Laveen communities. He’s expected to be—as Director of Membership Development for the South Mountain-Laveen Chamber of Commerce, he atolls the virtues of joining the Chamber to business owners and vice versa: to businesses looking to expand or move, he trumpets the growing number of amenities, quality of life and cultural diversity that make this part of the Valley unique.
But it’s quickly apparent that Glueck—who can often be found at a local Starbucks, his home away from home—isn’t just doing a job but living a passion. In a deep, sonorous voice that screams “radio!” Glueck can talk easily and exactly about the community’s growth, businesses, vision and operation—even citing dates that particular businesses or golf courses opened and rattling off population statistics over time.
“It took the refocusing and redevelopment of downtown Phoenix to focus on the bedroom community south of the [Salt] River,” Glueck said.
And, “Laveen is exploding … it’s exciting to see all of these amenities come in.”
The voice “comes from my roots in Philadelphia—everyone in Philadelphia has a good radio voice,” Glueck said. Incidentally, he was in radio for 38 years, though never as an on-air personality. In 1970 he joined KTAR, then owned by Combined Communications Corp., in the advertising department and was promoted up the ladder until he became President/General Manager. During his tenure in radio he’s also worked for Affiliated Broadcasting Inc., Salem Communications and Clear Channel Communications, all in management positions.
One of the tasks assigned to a media conglomerate GM is to forge community connections and to take on positions of outside leadership. It was this experience that opened the door for Glueck to develop his bigger-picture mentality and begin to see the community from an eagle-eye view, thinking strategically about economic development and preservation of the natural environment and cultural assets.
“It kind of broadens your perspective,” he said of his career as a GM. “It’s not all about advertising or having the best-rated morning show.”
In addition to increasing Chamber membership, Glueck also feels strongly about preserving the cultural history of the area. One day, working on some paperwork in Pepi’s Pizza, he looked up and caught the phrase, “Take Pride in the South Side” driving by on the side of a truck. That serendipitous moment inspired the same phrase as a “rallying point for people who have been residents here for a long time,” he said.
Despite living and working throughout the Valley, Glueck has a particularly soft spot for SoMo. When he was scouting places to relocate from New York City in 1970, he wound up looking down on the city from the top of South Mountain Park: “The view looking north toward the city and beyond—it’s a spectacular view,” he said. He knew he had found his new home.
Glueck and his wife of 24 years, Dorothy, a Valley native who was raised in the South Mountain area, built a house and moved to the area themselves in 2002. Glueck connected with the South Mountain-Laveen Chamber, which is a part of the Phoenix Chamber, because of a home-based business the couple started together, called Passages to Healthy Living.
As many businesses are born, the Gluecks’ entry into Passages to Healthy Living came when they recognized an underserved market. Searching for a home air purifier, they found a dearth of selection until they stumbled upon Passages to Healthy Living, a company that sells air purifiers through a network of home-based businesses.
Glueck parlayed his interest as a member of the Chamber into helping it grow and in 2006 was hired to help it expand. Today there are about 400 business members of the South Mountain-Laveen Chamber.
“We have a long way to go,” he said, “but we have a very enthusiastic group.”