Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 8:18 PM on Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ATIA manager to head Homer chamber

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer


Photo provided

Monte Davis

After more than 30 years of singing "I'm going fishing," Monte Davis and his wife, singing partner JoAnn, are coming to Homer, the self-proclaimed halibut fishing capital of the world.

After a three-month search, the Homer Chamber of Commerce has hired Davis as its new director.

On June 1, Davis, a membership and advertising manager for the Alaska Travel Industry Association, picks up the reins now held by Tina Day, who has been serving as interim director.

"He's a great guy," said Day of Davis. "I have never, ever received so many unsolicited referrals from the local business community and members regarding the desire for us to hire someone."

Holly Van Pelt, chamber president, said the board is "terribly excited" about selecting Davis.

"Monte certainly has statewide connections, which the hiring committee saw as one of his pluses in addition to his other experience," said Van Pelt. "ATIA was sorry to see him go, but understands his wanting to be in Homer."

Through his work with ATIA, Davis has developed working relationships with many local businesses. He also has family in Homer. His mother, Jo Davis, his brother, David "Berkly" Davis, and his brother's family live in the area. In addition, Monte and his wife have visited Homer on numerous occasions.

Davis replaces Paul Dauphinais, who resigned in February. Day, who served as the chamber director from December 2006 to December 2009, was hired to serve as interim director until a replacement for Dauphinais could be found.

"I have loved Homer since we first came there in 1976," said Davis in a telephone interview.

"Working for ATIA, I was just constantly watching and when I heard Paul had left, I just thought I'd throw my hat into the ring and see whether or not I could get the job."

Performing as "JoAnn and Monte," Davis and his wife have recorded 11 albums since their first one in 1979. In 1996, and continuing for almost 10 years, the couple served as Alaska ambassadors for the Holland America cruise line, traveling to all 50 states and almost all Canadian provinces.

A desire to spend time closer to JoAnn's family took them to Texas for several years. While there, they continued to maintain their Alaska ties as owners and operators of Alaska Travel Experts, specializing in tours to Alaska.

When the recession began nipping at their equity, they looked for opportunities closer to Alaska. Searching the Web, Davis spotted the opening with ATIA and within six weeks the couple had sold their Fort Worth home and returned north, where they have been since December 2009.

More than three decades in the music industry gave Davis opportunities to manage budgets, inventory and personnel.

"That's why they call it show biz and not show art," he told the Homer News, laughing.

Traveling cross-country to represent Alaska for Holland America taught Davis a lesson he values.

"Before those trips, I was like so many Alaskans, an Alaska snob. I just couldn't understand why people wouldn't want to come here," he said. "What I came to realize is that there is incredible beauty throughout the United States and the truth of the matter is, it gave me a perspective that we can't just take for granted people are going to come here. We have to reach out to them. It was a wonderful lesson."

When the opportunity with ATIA came along, Davis requested the Kenai Peninsula be included in the area he represented because of the familiarity he had already developed and connections he'd already made.

Now, as the Homer Chamber of Commerce's new director, he intends to expand on those relationships.

"I have a decent working relationship with a lot of chamber members already and certainly intend to improve on that," he said. "I promise you, I will be a big part of the community. I intend to get involved."

Getting involved means learning more about the area that is to become his and JoAnn's new home.

"My intention is to do the very best I can do," he said. "I hope I'm smart enough to walk in with cotton in my mouth and out of my ears. I want to make sure that I listen and listen and listen as much as possible for as long as it takes before I really start offering my opinion."

The Davises plan to relocate by Memorial Day weekend. Day's last official day with the chamber is June 3.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.