Alumnus Chris Thompson Named to 40 Under Forty

Monday, May 04, 2009
SNHU Communications Office

Back in 2007, when BusinessWest’s inaugural 40 Under Forty honorees gathered for a group photograph outdoors, the sky was clear and bright — appropriate, since the clouds that now darken the nation’s economic outlook were a long way off.

It was an impressive group of entrepreneurs, innovators, and community leaders — in short, success stories that any region would be proud to tout. Last year’s group of honorees — in the second go-round of our annual celebration of the region’s young talent — was equally impressive, even if the economy was growing shakier by the week.

This year, economic bad news is everywhere, and the clouds only seem to get darker by the day. But guess what? Our third 40 Under Forty class shines just as brightly as the first two.

Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone with a finger on the pulse of the region. In fact, the vibrancy of the area’s young achievers — and getting younger; this class includes more 20-somethings than either of the previous two — gives those who care about Western Mass. plenty of optimism about the future. Even in the midst of perhaps the worst recession in 70 years, these individuals are starting and expanding companies, growing profits and creating jobs, seamlessly taking the reins of family businesses ... and, in most cases, staying intimately involved in their communities through service on boards and volunteer efforts with charitable organizations.

Better yet, they’re creating lasting legacies that will inspire others to follow in their footsteps. Check out Kathy LeMay, this year’s highest-scoring honoree, who is cultivating philanthropic connections that will make a difference throughout the region for years to come. Brenda Wishart has worn a number of hats over the past decade, all aimed at building the next generation of entrepreneurs. Corey Murphy takes time away from his insurance agency to help kids read and do well in school — maybe giving a leg up to a future 40 Under Forty winner along the way.

By most expert accounts, the clouds will clear. And when they do, what will be left standing are the 40 Under Forty and others like them, who are working hard to build a buzz — and a foundation for long-term economic health — in the Pioneer Valley and beyond.

Chris Thompson Profile:Age 29: Director of Sales & Service, Springfield Falcons Hockey Club

Chris Thompson has a large collection of hockey memorabilia in his office at the MassMutual Center, from assorted pucks and sticks to a framed copy of that famous photo of Bobby Orr flying through the air as he scored the winning goal to cap off the Boston Bruins’ dramatic charge to the Stanley Cup in 1970.

Maybe his favorite, though, is an old hard hat with the Springfield Falcons logo. It’s a leftover from a strange chapter in the team’s history — the renovation and expansion of the old Springfield Civic Center and the resulting hardships for fans. Those season-ticket holders who made a two-year commitment to the team during that trying time five years ago were made members of the so-called Hard Hat Club and given one of the collector’s items.

Thompson found one of the hats while going through some old boxes in Falcons headquarters, kept it, and gave it a place of honor in his office. He says it speaks to his general job description — “building relationships” — better than maybe any words could.

“That’s essentially what I do,” he told BusinessWest, adding that he takes what might be considered an unusual title in sports management (director of sales and service), but this line on his business card says it all. “Service is just as important, if not more important, than sales. I make sure people enjoy the overall experience.”

This service is provided to fans, sponsors, and other types of clients, said Thompson, and constitutes the ideal job for someone who loved sports while growing up, and wanted to make this field his career.

While not working for the Falcons, the energetic Thompson is involved with a number of community activities, especially the Young Professionals Society of Greater Springfield, which he serves as a board member, and the West Springfield Park and Recreation Department.

With those groups, as with the Falcons, his job is to build relationships.


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