Sean Spence recently joined BBB as Mid-Missouri Regional Director, based at BBB’s office in Columbia, Mo. Spence represents BBB in a 13-county region. He lives in Columbia with his wife, Leigh. We asked him to tell us more about himself.
BBB: You’ve been involved in so many business and community activities in Mid-Missouri, it’s hard to know where to start. Which of the many positions you’ve held in private business has meant the most to you?
SS: A lot of what I have worked on has been trying to bring business together with community service. Several years ago, I started a program called Military Morning, which provides a free monthly breakfast to veterans and their families – primarily paid for by private businesses of all kinds. We had maybe 35 people at our first breakfast, ranging from 20-year-olds home from the Middle East to 90+ year-olds who had served in World War II. Today the breakfast attracts many times that number. Just thinking about it still chokes me up a bit.
BBB: You’re also active in community service work, particularly with women’s and disability organizations. What motivates you to be involved with these organizations?
Sean Spence: It may sound funny, but the biggest reason I get involved in community service activities is because it is so much fun. Getting involved is where I make some of my best friendships, and it just makes me happy to build things that make the world a better place.
BBB: You’ve written one book and are working on another. Why did you write them?
SS: My first book was about producing events, and I wrote that partly because I thought it would be good for my business (I owned an event production company at the time) and partly because I really did think I had something to say that would help people create better events and use them to better accomplish their goals. Now, I am writing a biography of disability advocate Justin Dart – basically, the Martin Luther King of the disability rights movement – and I am doing it because I was so shocked that nobody else had done it yet.
BBB: It’s been five years since BBB opened its Mid-Missouri Regional Office. What do you see as the potential for BBB to grow in Mid-Missouri? How can BBB contribute to the Mid-Missouri region?
SS: Today, Better Business Bureau is a respected brand in Mid-Missouri. With roughly 500 accredited businesses, it is one of the larger business organizations in the region. I predict we will double our size over the next three years and dramatically increase our presence and brand awareness for both business leaders and consumers. As a necessary by-product of that, we will increase the level of focus on building a business community that really cares about trust, integrity, and quality.
BBB: How will your experience in business and the Mid-Missouri community contribute to your new role as BBB regional director?
SS: I have been fortunate to get to know a lot of the region’s business leadership, and those relationships will certainly help. My primary expertise seems to lie in some combination of organization building and in marketing and communications, as we have seen with the businesses, organizations, and programs I have started. I think it will take a lot of help, but that we will be able to get people excited about promoting trust, integrity and quality in business.
BBB: Your resume shows you are an Eagle Scout? What was your Eagle project and why did you choose that?
SS: I am laughing because this is the first time anyone has asked about my Eagle project in maybe 25 years, and because it is going to sound like a setup to give me a chance to say something about BBB (which it is not). What I did was to create a neighborhood watch and I did it because I have always liked the idea of neighbors working together to solve common problems – also something that attracts me to BBB, because that is what we do; we come together as a business community to solve the problems that can arise if we are unethical. Seriously, that is very cool to me.
BBB: If there were one thing you’d like people in Mid-Missouri to know about you, what would it be?
SS: In the context of Better Business Bureau, it is that I am a true believer. I want businesses to be accredited because I honestly believe it is better for them, better for consumers, and better for our community. I could not be more proud than I am to be a new leader in promoting trust, integrity, and quality in business.
The Mid-Missouri Regional BBB office is at 3610 Buttonwood Drive, Columbia, Mo. 65201. Sean Spence can be reached at (573) 886-8965 or by email at email@example.com.