One of the benefits of working in a business journal for so long is the opportunity that longevity provides to get to know entrepreneurs and others involved in the business world.
One of the downsides is that the people you meet and develop professional relationships with sometimes leave. They sell their businesses. They move away to take other jobs. They are retiring.
It’s a bit like taking the subway. You board at a stop and ride for a while with other passengers. If you’re lucky, you get to know them and learn about their abilities, interests, and goals. Eventually, however, they descend. You are unlikely to get on and off the metro with the same group. All you can do is enjoy their company while you can.
I will never forget them as individuals. But I have long since lost track of the collective number of business owners and managers, government officials, and leaders of organizations that I have counted as sources of information over the years and with whom I do not work more.
All of this comes to mind when I talk about the impending retirement of Diane Schwenke. The President and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is one of the sources I have had the privilege of working with the longest.
I still remember interviewing Diane for one of the first stories I wrote for the Business hours. That was before I became an editor and freelanced. It was also 25 years ago. Doesn’t time pass? In the blink of an eye, it seems.
I’ve interviewed Diane countless times since. I often asked for it for several reasons. On the one hand, she always responded quickly to my requests, attentive reporters face deadlines, and sooner is always better than later. On the other hand, she knew so much about Grand Valley businesses and the challenges local businesses face. If there was ever a go-to source that has kept her finger on the proverbial pulse of the business community, it’s Diane.
I spoke with other people who have worked with Diane over the years. They described her as aggressive and impatient, but in a good way because she wanted to tackle problems and find solutions as quickly as possible. Again, the sooner the better. Moreover, she was never afraid of the often boisterous intersection of business and politics – or backed down from its fierce advocacy of business and commercial interests. This is exactly the kind of leader companies need in an advocacy group.
I don’t know when Diane will get off the subway — although she expects a successor to be chosen soon. I also don’t know where her retirement adventures will take her. Somewhere enjoyable and rewarding, I hope.
For now, however, I remain grateful to all those sources of information with whom I have been fortunate enough to enjoy our ride together. This includes Diane Schwenke.