Westmont Magazine A Public Presence
Kasey Cronquist ’00 got his first business experience operating the Westmont College radio station. Starting as a DJ, he became the business manager and eventually rose to station manager.
“I got to jump the ranks of the management ladder,” he says. “It was good experience and a lot of fun.” He lined up the station’s first advertisers, acquired donated equipment and added new programs.
Then he graduated with a degree in communication studies and had to start all over again.
Taking an entry-level position in international sales, he worked for Lattice Semiconductor in Hillsboro, Ore., but left after a year. “It was too cold and corporate,” he says. “I had to memorize a lot of semiconductor codes and it was hard to get excited about learning so much useless information.”
Next, Kasey decided to try something entrepreneurial. He went to work for Olympic Mountain Ice Cream, planning to learn the business and open a similar one in another state. Although he gained valuable experience in marketing, production and delivery, he realized he needed more than just a good business plan to succeed. “I was overwhelmed at the level of commitment required to make a small business work,” he says. “The family that owns Olympic Mountain has such a passion for their product. It’s not easy to replicate that.”
Seeking more managerial experience, Kasey went looking for another job. In 2003, he found one in his hometown — Shelton, Wash. — as the executive director of the Shelton-Mason County Chamber of Commerce.
“I saw an opportunity to make an impact in the community, and I went with it,” he says. The chamber was struggling with just 219 businesses. Two years later, he has increased membership dramatically to 340. “Not only did I go after new businesses, but I worked on giving more value to current members,” he says. Under his leadership, the chamber offers an array of services, produces a monthly newsletter and maintains a Web site, www.sheltonchamber.org.
After working at Olympic Mountain, Kasey understood what it takes to run a small business. “The chamber provides valuable resources for small businesses,” he says. “We help them carry the burden of trying to stay profitable.”
The South Sound Business Examiner has named Kasey one of the South Puget Sound’s 2004 “40 under 40,” 40 business leaders under the age of 40.
“Having such a public position in my hometown has been rewarding,” Kasey says. “I’m out in public working with groups that want the chamber’s help. I’m very visible. Even when I’m not working, I’m working.”
Despite his schedule, he makes time for his hobby: real estate development. Thanks to his father, who owns a real estate firm, he started investing in high school. His current project is remodeling a lakeside home with Don Sandridge.
Kasey keeps in touch with his Westmont friends and gets together every summer with five fellow graduates of the class of 2000: Forest Rankin, Roy Shakanberger, Phil Harnsberger, Casey Dehann and Don Sandridge.
Despite his success at the chamber, Kasey expects to move on to another challenge some day. “I will look for the next opportunity, the next rung on the ladder,” he says. “I still dream about starting a small business.”