I have met numerous people who had "happy, Norman Rockwell childhoods." I have never met anyone who had parents who were Vaudeville performers. Beverly Maloney had both. That combination produced a woman with a big effervescent personality and a deep booming voice that never tires of singing the praises of the Lowcountry.
Beverly Maloney is the Hilton Head/Bluffton Chamber's senior membership account executive. She recently received the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Circle of Champions Lifetime Achievement Award as one of the top three chamber sales professionals in the nation. She has also earned entry into the Million Dollar Circle. The national award recognizes career membership sales professionals who have achieved sales of more than one million dollars in chamber memberships throughout their careers.
She is quick to insist that her awards are completely dependent on the remarkable talents and efforts of the 26 staff people who also work for the Chamber and its affiliated Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB). And, of course, because the Hilton Head/Bluffton area is truly a paradise. She loves having the opportunity to sell it to other people who come here on vacation, fall in love and want to relocate. Just like she did.
Beverly began her career as an elementary school teacher in Ohio. She then went to work for Memorex (a leading supplier of computer disk drives) and got her background in sales. After vacationing in Hilton Head for several years she decided to move here permanently. That was 24 years ago.
She started at the Chamber, working part-time at the front desk, 15 years ago. She has been selling ever since. "I am continually excited by the possibilities here. I remember when I first got here the only thing in Bluffton was "Island Ford." There is constant growth and it seems the slow down in the economy just brought out an entrepreneurial spirit. Even though this has been typically considered a retirement area, it is very family-oriented-a great place to raise a family. We are seeing the demographic getting younger. And I've watched lots of young people who grew up here and went away.now they're returning. I tell them don't leave because it's like a magnet that draws you back."
When I asked her to tell me a little about herself she seemed at a loss, for the first time. After some gentle coaxing, she began to decribe her "Norman Rockwell" childhood. She was the youngest of four children, raised in Youngstown, Ohio. Her father was a steel industry executive and her mother was a "stay at home mom". She doesn't tell me about her parents being in Vaudeville until she is walking me out to the parking lot. I learned her mother had a radio show and a silky velvety voice. Her father was a tap dancer known as "the boy with the educated feet." They apparently opted for a more conventional life once they had children.
"My parents were kind, generous, loving people. They taught me to have a positive attitude and the importance of hard work. My mom taught me all my life lessons, particularly to respect everyone. I'm very lucky and blessed." Beverly was wearing her mom's rings and beautiful carved antique turquoise earrings that belonged to her grandmother. She also has a funky, artsy bracelet and a silky jacket of purple and turquoise that makes a statement. This striking, ebullient woman says she was painfully shy as a young girl. That's almost impossible to believe. "My siblings were hard acts to follow. My sisters were all majorettes. I broke the tradition and became a cheerleader, which upset my mother., but that got me out of being shy. I was even head cheerleader."
There is no shyness about her job. "I love person-to-person contact. I love meeting people who are new to the area and discussing their hopes and dreams and how the Chamber can help them to succeed. Many people want to start their own businesses and I believe the Hilton Head/Bluffton area is really good for small business." In addition to her work with the Chamber, Beverly owns a cleaning and rental company. She knows the importance of networking and "word of mouth" referrals in this area. She truly believes membership in the Chamber of Commerce is a win-win for both members and the community.
"There is so much happening around here. I could go to events every day and night of the week." I asked if she can go anywhere without bumping into people she knows. She laughs. "I tell people I have to wear make up seven days a week. Who knows who I'll see?"
Our time is up. Beverly has places to go. I drove away feeling buoyant and thinking about things I love about Hilton Head. She really is good at what she does.
Close ties: Her best friend since she was four moved to HHI from Youngstown.
Family: As a "favorite aunt" she loves spoiling her nieces.and being a vacation destination for her family.
Culinary skills: Using her mom's recipes, she loves to cook.
Membership: She called to make sure I mentioned she belongs to the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber of Commerce.