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Go To Guy -- 1956-1983


Tomorrow I will attend the funeral of a good friend, Nash Phillips. Nash was a home builder in Austin during my entire twenty-seven years as CEO of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. He came in to visit with me many times during this period of time. We talked about what's happening in Austin. He was interested in what I knew about new commercial or industrial developments. I was interested in what he knew about housing in and around Austin.

It was a very good relationship. I think we both felt that we had learned something after each such a visit.

Although Nash is gone, an award is presented every year in his name by the Austin Commercial Real Estate Society. This award is called the Lifetime Achievement Award. A couple of months ago I was honored to have been presented this award. As I and my entire family attended the awards dinner at the Headliners Club, I was happy to see some of the people that I had worked with. I was also introduced to a man that I vaguely remembered who said, "Oh, you're the go to guy." He went on to explain that when something needed to be done in Austin, I was the guy to "go to."

Later on I got to thinking about this label, and perhaps it was true to some extent. I recall that when the Austin Livestock Show went broke, a member of our board and of the Livestock Show board, suggested that we take over its operation. We did.

Then a short while later the boat dealers were unhappy with the promoters running their show, so one of them suggested that they should go to see Vic. We took over the operation of the boat show.

And as the technology firms grew in Austin, and international shipping (both ways) became a part of their business, they needed a port of entry in Austin thereby saving a trip to Houston each time something needed to clear customs. We set up the Austin Foreign Trade Council, and soon had the necessary information to request that a customs office be set up in Austin. We were successful.

There are similar stories regarding the Austin Security Council, the Austin Community College, the Palmer Auditorium and Convention Center (now the Long Center), and quite a few more. I was in the right position to pull together the right people who could get things done. I should be so lucky to have such a job.

The Lifetime Achievement Award that I received from ACERS was the third Lifetime Achievement Award that I have been presented. The others were from the Texas Festival and Events Association and the Texas Travel Industry Association. For one guy to be associated with such a diversity of great people is--well, about like Lou Gehrig said, "I'm the luckiest guy in the world."

Vic Mathias -- February 13, 2011