Retiring local executive found added reward from supporting Chamber of Commerce

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All communities count on business people and residents to step up and offer to design and support a variety public service and charitable projects to enhance local life. Many contributors are notable around New Canaan, though the name Dale Carbonier stands out to observers of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce for his ever-present support of that group’s quest to bring more and more vibrancy to the downtown village.

As Carbonier [pronounced Carbon-AIR] has just retired from Rand Insurance after a 45-year career here, he sat with the Advertiser and reflected particularly on his 15+ years as a board member and general supporter of the local Chamber of Commerce.

Just as many industrious businesspeople and salespeople do, Carbonier started participating in Chamber of Commerce activities in order to network with the local business owners and merchants. It was a way to increase his own business and gain referrals from those contacts. Some Chamber participants and members leave their involvement at that, and then wait to see how much the Chamber will do for them.

Others, like Carbonier, take their involvement to a deeper level for the greater good. “I could see how the chamber helps retailers and the town,” he said. “You want to be part of what will make the town better.”

New Canaan merchants benefit directly from the chamber’s programs that bring people downtown, Carbonier said.

He cited the work of many Chamber board members over the years, including the likes of Lawrence Mannix and Ned Hobbs, and the executive leadership of Tucker Murphy and Laura Budd, as reasons for the group’s increased effectiveness over the past decade. He worked with countless others who have donated their time for the good of the village and townspeople, he said. His own roles and support grew over the years as a member, board member, board president, and later as president of the Chamber’s non-profit New Canaan Charitable Foundation.

Bringing people downtown

Carbonier pointed to a number of programs that have grown and added vitality to the downtown, especially the Holiday Stroll, the Village Fair & Sidewalk Sale and the Pop Up Park. All of these programs are designed to bring people to the downtown village.

“The Chamber has been doing that,” he said, adding that its successes have earned the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce a reputation around the state as a model chamber. Much credit goes to Executive Director Tucker Murphy, he said.

One of the projects that Carbonier was involved in was the formation of the Chamber’s non-profit foundation that now accepts charitable donations for the holiday tree lights that line the streets of the village between Thanksgiving and mid-January. Part of the job, he said, was to communicate that the holiday lights are not paid for by the Town. He said he was impressed with how strongly the townspeople responded with direct contributions for the lights, once they understood that it is the Chamber’s fundraising that pays for them.

Personally rewarding

Personally, “it is rewarding,” Carbonier said, when people tell him how wonderful the lights are, or that the Stroll was the best ever. “People appreciate it; it makes you feel good that you’ve done something to make them feel good.”

He has been happy to be so involved with the Chamber because, “You want people to say good things about New Canaan; the Chamber sells New Canaan.”

Tucker Murphy describes Carbonier as “a very unique guy — so gentle and warm.”

“He supported every event we do and then some,” she said. “He was always the first to raise his hand and always the first to recognize the effort and success of others.”

Carbonier noted a couple of times that he appreciated the support that he always had from the top leaders at Rand, as he devoted hours to Chamber-related meetings and events. Rand is headquartered in Riverside, Conn. and Carbonier headed their New Canaan office.

Over the course of his 45 years as an insurance representative and executive, which started in at Brotherhood & Higley Insurance in New Canaan in April 1972, he said he got to know many people through his children’s youth baseball and tennis, the Rotary Club, his own tennis games, and his membership and leadership on the board at New Canaan Field Club.

He said he has had so many loyal clients, some of whom have been with him for all the years.

“People like to shop New Canaan and keep their services in New Canaan,” Carbonier said.

Staying active and umpiring

Why did he retire? Well, at age 77 he said, he “couldn’t keep putting it off.” Rand plans its staffing years in advance. He said he and his wife will be happy and active in their retirement centered in their spacious townhome in Bethel — plenty big enough for their children and grandchildren.

And, by virtue of being a past president of the New Canaan Chamber, he is allowed to participate and stay involved indefinitely with the group and his many friends there. That prospect, along with his newest endeavor of studying to become a youth baseball umpire, brought a broad smile to his face.

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