When Blake Benson took the job as president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, steaming the wrinkles out of formal gowns and planting Japanese Maple trees were not part of his job description.

When Blake Benson took the job as president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, steaming the wrinkles out of formal gowns and planting Japanese Maple trees were not part of his job description.
But sometimes, doing the job the right way means doing the job a different way.
Earlier this week, the chamber launched its "Do Your Job" program, a project during which chamber officials will spend part of their days working at the businesses the organization serves.
On Wednesday, Benson and Mark Werner, incoming chamber board chairman, spent time working at Loree's Bridal and Formal, a business that provides dresses, gowns and suits for various occasions. After getting a tour of the facility, the men learned how to properly remove wrinkles using a steam machine. But perhaps more importantly, the learned a little bit about what owner Sara Narges and her employees go through on a daily basis.
"Growing up with brothers and now having two sons," Benson said, "I knew nothing about wedding and prom dresses. But even more than that, I had no idea that Sara drew from so many other larger communities like Springfield, Tulsa and Kansas City. That is something we now know that may allow us, down the line, to help her reach out to those and other communities."
Narges, who served as the chamber members' supervisor on Wednesday, described the program as "a great idea."
"It's good to have people come in and see how you really operate and what all goes on," she said. "A lot of the time, they don't know what we go through."
Thursday morning, Benson and Brad Hodson, chamber board member, worked for a few hours at Seasons Nursery and MJ Landscaping. After helping to plant trees at a local residence, they returned to the nursery to check on the condition of "probably 1,000 mums," Benson said.
The purpose of the "Do Your Job" program is to give the chamber a close-up look at what businesses owners, managers and employees in Pittsburg experience every day.
"We're always looking for a way to get to know our local businesses better," Benson said. "We've always tried to be visible and be out in the community and visiting their businesses. We wanted to take that to a new level. It's one thing to talk about it, but it's another to get a birds-eye view of it.
“It’s not that we think we’re going to learn the ins and outs of a business just by spending a couple of hours there,” he said. “But what we do get is a better feel for what those businesses deal with, the challenges they face and how we might be able to assist them.”
Benson said he got the idea for the program while attending the Kansas Chamber of Commerce Executives Association conference this spring.
"Salina conducts a similar program and their officials said it had made a big difference in how they deal with their businesses," he said.
Benson said the program works as invitation-only, meaning chamber officials will only show up at a business — it must be a chamber member — upon invitation.
Werner, president of Citizens Bank in Pittsburg, said he hopes the businesses that elect to participate take away from it as much as the chamber does.
"I hope that it increases their perception of the chamber being a supporter of their businesses and that there are people in the community that care about their success," he said. "I think this program is a great way to help chamber leadership and staff get a better understanding of what our members are facing day to day in their businesses. It should also help us to find new and different ways to support them in their businesses."