Commentary by Mo Merhoff
The folder marked “History” was among those Nancy Blondin left for me when she retired. Inside were documents indicating the Carmel Clay Chamber of Commerce had been started twice. Once in 1962, and then again in 1970. There was one common name: Harold Kaiser. He was so determined to get a business organization going in Carmel that he created one twice. He told me successful organizations had to have the right people and that it took him awhile to assemble them.
Harold knew how to start things other than chambers of commerce. He started his own insurance and real estate company in 1958. Today, almost 60 years later, it continues to thrive as The Kaiser Land Company and Coldwell Banker Kaiser, and you could still find Harold in his office almost daily into his early 90s. He helped start the Hamilton County Realtors Association and served as its first chair. When the St. Vincent Carmel hospital opened, Harold was among its very first volunteers. He was a charter member of Carmel’s Golden K Kiwanis.
He would call regularly just to ask how the chamber was doing. He loved the monthly luncheons, and our conversations always ended with, “You know I’ll be there if I can.” For the impact he had on the business community and for his unlimited enthusiasm for his city, his volunteer work and his company, we named our annual lifetime achievement award The Harold Kaiser Award, and Harold was our first recipient in 2011.
The chamber lost its founder, its most ardent cheerleader, and its oldest and most loyal member Nov. 10. We’ll always keep Harold’s vision of what a strong business community can accomplish front of mind. Thank you, Harold. It was a gift to have known you.
Mo Merhoff is president of OneZone, a chamber of commerce serving business in Hamilton County.