Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce

Supporting, advocating, and promoting our local business-members in the heart of the Florida Keys!

Category: CEO Corner (page 1 of 4)

CEO Letter

Spring Forward & Upward

Another successful Marathon Seafood Festival is in the books! Thank you to all our sponsors, supporters, volunteers, staff, organizers, etc. for coming together to ensure our community and visitors experienced another amazing seafood festival. I am so honored and proud of what our annual event does for our community!

The economic impact (via visitor spending & circulation of monies) eclipsed $6 million; and proceeds from this event help to fund our annual Business Beautification Grants ($20,000), Continuing Education Grants for members ($10,000), as well as our MHS and Take Stock in Children Scholarships ($10,000). Of course our event partner, the Marathon Organized Fishermen of Florida (OFF) also use event proceeds to fund the tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships, youth sports, and other beneficial donations they make each year. Not to mention working with the state of Florida OFF that lobbies and works with state officials to ensure the viability of our commercial fishing industry.

Lastly, via our tip jars at this year’s event we were able to donate over $3,200 towards the Schmitt Charitable Foundation for Irma Relief. Even though we are seven months post Irma we really needed the seafood festival to celebrate our fishing heritage, comradery, and good ole fashioned fun at Marathon’s biggest and best event.

You will also soon start hearing about our annual Business Beautification Program and Member Continuing Education Grants. Between these two programs your Chamber Board will award $30,000 to invest in improving the aesthetic/visual appeal of your business as well as furthering you and our members’ education, skills, and also abilities. This is something your Chamber Board is very proud to do. With the understanding that a better looking Marathon and better trained and educated workforce equals a better performing and more prosperous Islands of Marathon.

Sad note

On a sad note we recently lost a great man and founder of our Marathon Seafood in Tommy Coppedge. Tommy was one of the original founders of our seafood festival. A leader in the Keys commercial fishing industry for decades. A personal friend to myself and many others before he retired to Lake City, FL about five years ago. We lost Tommy unexpectedly but will always remember what he did for our community and commercial fishing industry. Rest in peace Tommy, and our deepest condolences to Tommy’s wife and family.

Have a great April everyone; please be sure to contact us for any business assistance, needs, referrals, and anything else you may need. After all, we exist to serve you, our valued business-member!

Marathon Signs

Welcome NEW Member to our Great Marathon Chamber of Commerce!

Marathon Signs!


Marathon Signs Commerce Corner Business Spotlight


TBH Construction

Introducing the New Chamber Member: TBH Construction

TBH Construction works with all types of general contracting, from small to large jobs. Established in 2001, the company specializes in general building, drywall, stucco, siding, and total remodels. Owner Tom Harmon says their key to success is quality and service.

Right now in this time of need, after Hurricane Irma, Contractors are in high demand. We thank you all for coming to the keys and helping us Rebuild #Keysstrong

TBH Construction

Marathon Chamber

Hello 2018


I hope you all had a great Holiday and New Year’s, here is to 2018! Usually in my January letter I discuss how great the previous year was, our accomplishments,
etc. After Irma, it’s (admittedly so) difficult to do this. However, now that we are passed the worst of it; we can focus on the finish
line, and yes I can see the light ahead! Finish line meaning getting the rest of the debris picked up and hauled away, getting locals back into
their homes, and seeing businesses and resorts that are still down due to damages back up and running. Our focus has to be a strong finish
so we can push forward and step into the light. It will take discipline, patience, and persistence.


Discipline, patience, and persistence:

• Discipline: understanding that this high-season and summer will not yield revenues like years past. So we must budget accordingly; please know this doesn’t mean making cuts that will hurt your business, productivity, and quality. Think “efficiency” rather than just reductions. Think of lean, smart, and innovative ways to keep things afloat and running. On a personal level it may mean postponing that big vacation or addition to your home till next year; or the purchase of luxury items that are “wants” and not “needs.”
• Patience: things will improve and get better. “The new normal” as locals refer to post Irma will eventually revert back to just normal. Once our islands are back and looking great, all businesses up and running, and all services available for visitors and locals; we will get back to “normal.” But have patience, don’t rush the process in ways that may cause unintended consequences. Remain persistent, tenacious and what not, but have patience.
• Persistence: speaking of, be persistent and tenacious. Work hard, don’t give up or give in. We are a tight-knit community so please reach out for assistance or help. Your Marathon Chamber is here for you no matter what! Contact me anytime, please! There are other great and free resources out there for you as well and we/I am happy to connect you to any of them (financial, and/or business guidance, counseling, marketing/advertising/PR, etc.). One of my favorite attributes Keys business owners have is stubbornness. Use this in an effective, efficient, and positive manner to get through the home stretch of Irma’s recovery.

2018 begins:

As 2018 begins we again have high goals and standards to ensure that we are best serving you and our other 575+ business members. We have again budgeted to award $10,000 in continuing education scholarships to Marathon Chamber members as well as to host a number of educational seminars to help further expand your knowledge, skills, and abilities. We will also award our Business Beautification Grants again in 2018 so please keep a watchful eye out for this and other programs so you can take full advantage of your membership with us.

Thank you again for being a member of The Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce in 2017, we look forward to again serving you in 2018. If you have any questions about your membership renewal invoice please call us anytime. Want to know more about what the Marathon Chamber can do for you and your business? Please call us to set up an orientation/member benefits meeting; we will travel to your place of business if need be. Our mission is to serve you; and also I look forward to doing just that yet again in 2018.

Hears to a healthy, safe, and fruitful 2018!

Daniel Samess

Daniel Samess, M.S. • Chief Executive Officer • Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce • 12222 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050 • W: (305) 743-5417 / F: (305) 289-0183
email: ceo@floridakeysmarathon.comMarathon


Business Spotlight: Commerce Corner


We’re committed to delivering the alcohol and other provisions of your choosing. To the place you request within a reasonable time frame and with a reasonable delivery charge.

After spending time within the corporate world and also getting my business degree, I decided to make a change in my life. Start my own company in a city that I have had the opportunity to visit multiple times. There were a few times where I had wished I hadn’t needed to make a trip to get groceries. Or alcohol for the condo I had rented for vacation.  Inspiration struck on a cold winter’s day while living in Boston.

I saw a travel advertisement for Key West. Remembering my experiences and what some people have told me regarding difficulties of getting their groceries and alcohol. Especially when not having a vehicle to get them.  At this moment, my vision for the company morphed. From being a distributor of alcohol to liquor stores and bars into an idea where I would be a delivery services for both vacationers and locals in Key West and the lower Keys up to Marathon.  Whether you are in the lower Keys for vacation, or a local pressed for time, please consider TendBar to deliver groceries, alcohol, and also other provisions to your location.



Irma Who?

Happy Holidays to you, our valued member! The New Year is around the corner, so is high-season; which I know all our businesses are exceptionally excited about post Irma. This off-season was like no other.  While we are still recovering physically and emotionally from Irma, it is exciting to have some holiday cheer and tourists getting ready to flock to our islands.

December marks the end of our fiscal year; so please be sure to keep a look out in your mailbox or inbox for your annual Chamber Membership Renewal invoice. Should you have any questions about it please contact us as we are happy to help as always. This year we are offering two options regarding your annual dues. If you are able to pay your 2018 dues in full by Jan. 12th we will deduct 4% from your dues amount. If you cannot pay by then we are happy to provide an extension until March 30th, but without the 4% savings. I understand the savings is not a significant amount, but if it helps and further encourages you to pay sooner than later then it will be a win-win for you and your chamber.

Other than Irma 2017 was another positive and productive year for your Marathon Chamber of Commerce! One area I am very proud of is our annual programs we have expanded and contributed to. Why, because they directly affect you, our business members and our local economy. In 2017 we again awarded $20,000 in business beautification grants; we awarded $10,000 in continuing education grants to twenty-six (26) business-members; awarded $5,000 in scholarships to five (5) MHS seniors as well as $5,000 to the Marathon Take Stock in Children program. Lastly awarded over $5,000 in donations to key local not for profits that benefit our businesses and local economy. (FIRM, FL Keys Days, Middle Keys Habitat for Humanity, Fishermen’s Community Hospital Foundation, Pigeon Key Foundation, and more).

As we move into 2018 I look forward to moving forward, seeing more of our hotels, businesses, and homes get fully repaired and back online. I look forward to normalcy and to working with our City Council on more workforce housing solutions; as well as to working with our TDC on informing visitors that we are up and running and getting better and better with every week that passes. I will look forward to seeing our businesses make up revenues and get back to a healthy and prosperous position, and most importantly helping you and our business community getting to that point.

The Marathon Chamber Board of Directors, staff, and I are all committed to working for and with you and your staff. Please be sure to get involved in our beneficial programs; ask questions, and let your Marathon Chamber work for you. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s later this month; be safe in your travels, and see you at our December events and then in 2018!
Most Respectfully,

SBA Bridge & Disaster Loans


Florida SBDC at Florida Keys Community College, along with your Marathon Chamber of Commerce is currently coordinating the Emergency Bridge Loan Program funded by the State of Florida for small businesses.

These are loans intended for operating capital; $50,000 max, six month term, and also no-interest. Application deadline is October 31st. We are also assisting clients with SBA Disaster Loan Applications. Those loans max out at 2 million for both damage to property and economic injury. If you need help for your small business, please register with us via the link below. No cost of our one-on-one consulting. Our program is funded by the SBA, the State of Florida, and Florida Keys Community College. To register please click on the following link; we serve all businesses in our region from Key Largo to Key West.

SBDC Website

Daniel Samess / 305-849-9688
Kelly Penwell (SBDC Regional Director)

• FEMA Disaster Assistance • SBA Disaster Assistance • SBA Disaster Loan Programs Available
SBA & FEMA Disaster Recovery Center: Open daily from 8:00AM – 8:00PM
Marathon Community Park
3911 Overseas Hwy
Marathon, FL 33050

SBA BRC (Business Recovery Center; now open in Marathon): Open daily from 9AM – 6PM
Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce
12222 Overseas Hwy
Marathon, FL 33050
• Also contact our local banks (First State Bank, Keys Federal Credit Union, BB&T, Iberia, Centennial, etc.) about personal loans being offered to help you recover and rebuild, many are offering great programs in the wake of Irma.


Legal Help for FEMA registration, Insurance Claims, and also More…

When: Saturday, Oct. 7th from 11:00AM – 4:00PM
Where: Lighthouse Grille Restaurant (behind the Hyatt Place, Marathon)


October & Hurricane Irma


Chamber Members, Friends, Colleagues: 

I pray this finds you, your loved ones, friends, and also colleagues in good health post Irma!  It will be a difficult path and time ahead, but I have the utmost confidence in our City, businesses, Tourist Development Council, and YOU that we will rebuild and recover; and probably quicker than most will anticipate.

Please know your Marathon Chamber and also Board of Directors are here to help and assist as needed! Currently we are focusing on connecting you all to disaster loans and also resources. Also planning on hosting a workshop (stay tuned on date and location) with people to help/assist with SBA and FEMA benefits and insurances.  We look forward to helping our community recover one step at a time, while moving day by day!

Irma Disaster help

Important links & info:


For more info on joining the Marathon Chamber, or know someone who needs to join, please call/email us at (305) 743-5417 /  

Remember to call/email your Marathon Chamber for all your business or travel needs, and also anything Marathon!  We take great pride in providing quality services to our business-members as well as our visitors.

The Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce & Board of Directors are committed to promoting and informing our businesses as well as our great destination!
Daniel Samess, M.S.
(305) 743-5417
Seafood Festival

August 2017 CEO Letter

Dear Marathon Chamber of Commerce Member

While lobster mini-season keeps our hotel rooms, restaurants, and businesses busy; we are all glad when it’s over! We have a lot of exciting initiatives going on over the next few months, since we aim to keep you, our valued business-member in-the-know here is what we are working on.

Seminar #2 on Cyber Security has been cancelled.

First, we have the second of three business-seminars set for this month. As you know education is a huge part of what your Marathon Chamber does. We understand the value of education, and how improving our skills and abilities can lead to improved business performance, profitability, and also longevity. Our Aug. 14th seminar focuses on Cyber Security for Small Businesses. No business is immune to online hackers and criminals seeking to steal your, and/or your customers’ information and data. Plus your liability insurances will not cover any losses from cyber security breaches. We hope you will attend to learn how to better protect yourself, your customers, and your business. Please sign up for this month’s seminar, you will not be disappointed (flyer included in this month’s newsletter).

Annual Chamber Board of Director Elections

August is also when we begin preparations for our annual Chamber Board of Director elections. If you are interested in running for a seat on the Marathon Chamber Board of Directors, please email or contact me to receive an application (also see flyer insert). Elections take place in early September and this year we have six (6) open seats on the Board. This is a great way to help lead the overall direction of your Marathon Chamber and help to have a real impact on our business community.

BIG Raffle Contest

Finally, this month signifies the beginning of our annual BIG Raffle Contest. Winners will be drawn at our annual Awards Banquet on Friday, Oct. 6th at Hawks Cay Resort (please save the date). Again we are offering a vacation package for two (winner can choose from 4 vacation options) as our grand prize ($3,000+ value), or if a vacation is not your cup of tea, the grand prize winner can choose a cash prize of $2,000.00. Other prizes include a stay at Hawks Cay Resort with spa for two, as well as $100 restaurant gift certificates, a staycation in Key West, and more. See flyer insert for more info please. As always tickets are only $25.00/each and we will only sell a max of 500 tickets. Proceeds help to fund our annual Academic and Continuing Education Scholarships to Marathon students and also our business-members.

Have a great August everyone; please be sure to get your raffle tickets and to sign up for our Aug. 14th business-seminar; and be safe out there getting those delicious Florida Lobsters after full season opens up August 6th!

Most Respectfully,

Daniel Samess, CEO

Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce

(305) 743-5417





KEYS TOURISM ADVISORY    July 31, 2017 • 10:00 a.m.

News and Information from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council

Special Filming Event Scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 1

A film production company is planning to shoot portions of a new television commercial Tuesday, Aug. 1, which is to likely result in brief traffic delays that day between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The Enthusiast Network, Inc. is to have support of Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies to help control and direct traffic between mile marker (MM) 65.5 and also 50.8, according to production officials. No lane closures are scheduled.

Aerial and also ground-level driving footage is planned to be shot for Lamborghini car company.

Motorists planning to use the Overseas Highway during the film production window should allow extra travel time to arrive at their destinations.

Filming is subject to change due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

KEYS TOURISM ADVISORY    July 31, 2017 • 8:00 a.m.

News and Information from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council

Road Work to Continue at Key West’s Triangle 

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will continue work at the “Triangle,” where US 1 meets North Roosevelt Blvd. at the entrance of Key West, according to FDOT public information personnel.

Scheduled to be some night time lane closures between 9 p.m. and also 6 a.m., in order to remove existing concrete and place new sidewalks for the relocated crosswalk.

The outer lane, outbound will be the first to be closed at night. Later, the outer inbound lane will be affected.

This project is expected to improve the traffic flow for the turn lanes, and includes the installation of a new traffic control cabinet, pedestrian signals, milling and asphalting, concrete modifications on the island and new roadway striping.

Therefore work is expected to take up to 2 months.

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