Storyteller on a role: New chamber chairman expects to draw on marketing experience

Matthew Breman operates Cranium 360, a full-service marketing firm based in Grand Junction. Breman expects to draw on his experiences during his term as chairman of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce board of directors.(Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Matthew Breman operates Cranium 360, a full-service marketing firm based in Grand Junction. Breman expects to draw on his experiences during his term as chairman of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce board of directors.(Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

     Matthew Breman has spent most of his career telling stories — first for the entertainment corporations for which he worked, then for clients of the marketing firm he operates.

Now Breman has another story to tell in yet another role — as the new chairman of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

That story, Breman says, is about the range of resources the chamber offers to help businesses both collectively and individually.

Effective communication also involves listening, though, and Breman says the chamber will step up its efforts to do that as well. The basic process is no different than that involved in marketing, he said. “You understand what potential clients want, then help fulfill their needs.”

Breman says those needs include qualified employees, help in navigating the regulatory landscape and better infrastructure in the form of improved access to high-speed Internet and commercial air services.

But as the chamber joins with other local organizations in increasingly collaborative efforts to improve business conditions and promote economic development, Breman says he’s excited about the coming year as well as the long-term outlook for the Grand Valley “There’s so much potential in this community.”

He’s also anxious, he says, to give back to the community he says has given so much to his business and family in his leadership roles with the chamber and United Way of Mesa County. “There’s a strong reason to give back to it. I want to make this a better place. This is now home.”

Breman expects to bring to his one-year term as chamber chairman the education, experience and perspective gleaned from a career in which he’s worked in theater arts, television production, internal communications and marketing. “You’re a product of your past,” he says.

Breman worked for a total of more than 15 years with the Nickleodeon television network and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. In 2005, he launched Cranium 360 and relocated the full-service marketing firm and his family to Grand Junction.

Breman earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, where he studied technical theater arts.

He started out working for Nickelodeon on a free lance basis in its scene shop, but subsequently took on work as a draftsman, staging manager and project manager. Over the course of nine years, Breman estimates he was involved in the production of more than 2,500 episodes for broadcast television in addition to internal and external marketing campaigns and product and retail store development.

Breman earned a master’s of business administration degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. His studies focused on marketing and international finance.

Breman was recruited for a position with Walt Disney World Resort, where he helped establish an internal communications design agency. He says his work with Disney was an education in itself in teaching him the importance of developing strategies to drive marketing and communications efforts, solving problems in creative ways and providing quality customer service.

Breman subsequently went to work for himself in launching his own marketing firm. He moved with his family to Grand Junction for what he described as a needed lifestyle change and brought with him Cranium 360.

The firm offers a wide range of services, he says, including everything from advertising, graphic design and video production to marketing planning and execution to Web site and social media development. A total of six full- and part-time employees work for Cranium 360 in Grand Junction, while three more-part time employees work for the firm in Florida.

Cranium 360 provides services to  large corporations and small businesses, but brings the same process to every client, Breman says. And that’s crafting a story about the client and how best to tell that story. “People will remember stories more than facts.”

Breman believes one of his chief duties as chairman of the chamber board will be to encourage members to become involved in issues involving the organization and then building consensus.

But he also expects to draw on his experience in marketing in tell stories about the chamber and the resources the group offers to businesses. “Why is it important to be a chamber member? What’s the value?”

Breman says he soon joined the chamber after relocated to Grand Junction to take advantage of networking opportunities and find customers for his new business. The chamber continues to offer those opportunities.

The chamber also continues to advocate on behalf of local businesses, he says. The chamber maintains a government affairs committee and lobbies at the local, state and national levels of government.

While the chamber helps businesses collectively, the group also helps individual firms address the challenges they face, he adds.

The chamber conducts what’s called a Listening to Business program. The chamber soon will add an additional staff member who’ll meet with representatives from industry sectors and individual businesses to identify and address issues they face as well as assist businesses with retention and expansion, Breman says. If the chamber can help small businesses expand even a little bit, the accumulative effect could be substantial, he says.

Breman says he’s already heard enough from chamber members over the years to know some of the problems they face, including finding employees with the right qualifications and dealing with regulations. Access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet access and making connections with commercial air service in and out of the Grand Valley constitute challenges as well, he says.

To that end, the goals for the chamber for the coming year include ongoing efforts to develop a skilled work force and improve Internet and air services.

Meanwhile, the chamber will continue to participate in efforts to promote economic development that include not only recruiting new businesses to the area, but helping existing businesses expand, Breman says.

The community is better positioned to promote economic development, he says, in large part because of a growing commitment to support those efforts — including increased funding from Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction. That support follows the results of a competitive location assessment and branding research that recommended additional funding for economic development.

Moreover, the groups involved in the effort — including the chamber, Grand Junction Economic Partnership and Business Incubator Center — are working more closely together, he adds. “I think that puts in a better position than we’ve been in a long time.”

Even as the chamber strives to help businesses and improve local business conditions, Breman says he’s looking forward to serving as a leader of the chamber as well as United Way and its efforts to raise money for human services agencies.

While he says the experience could be a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant, he’s pleased to have an opportunity to give back to the community. “To me, it’s an honor. I’m thrilled.”