Lindy Lutz Cash recalled how she flew from her native Ohio 20 years ago to visit a friend in Ahwatukee and “I fell in love with the area.”
And when she and her husband took advantage of corporate transfers to move to Arizona in 2003, she said, “We knew right where we were headed. We didn’t look anywhere else, and I’ve never looked back.”
Today, Cash is all-eyes to the future as the new president/CEO of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce, possibly the most visible ambassador for the community she’s loved for two decades.
Since she moved here, Cash said, “it’s been a good journey.”
But now she’s already deep into the hard work of using what she has learned and the network she has developed during that journey to better serve the 400-plus chamber members specifically and Ahwatukee in general.
As the chamber’s new chief executive, Cash will be working with the board to fashion the organization’s overall mission while also developing new programs and tweaking some existing ones to make it an effective advocate and mentor for Ahwatukee’s businesses.
“There are challenges out there, especially for mom-and-pop businesses,” Cash said. “It’s still tough out there. They work hard to keep the doors open, and we want to support them with their marketing plans.”
She comes to the job with considerable business chops.
For 10 years up to 2014, she and her husband Kevin Cash owned Foothills Ace Hardware in the Desert Foothills Plaza shopping center.
She has also been a fashion consultant, a flooring store advisor, co-owner with her husband of a company that invested in retail store ownership and a life coach.
Cash also has corporate experience on her resume. She held major executive positions for two banks, AmTrust and National City, for more than a decade.
And she has been deeply involved in the community as a member of the chamber board and its executive committee as well as a member of the Festival of Lights Committee. She also has been a volunteer on the national level, serving as Panhellenic relations director for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and working with campuses in the Western U.S. in leadership and programming for college sorority women.
These days, life has been nearly immersed in learning the ropes of her new position.
Appointed interim president/CEO of the chamber around Thanksgiving, Cash paused when asked how life has changed.
“It’s been busy,” she said.
“I knew there were a lot of things the chamber handles because I had been involved, but until you’re in the thick of it and in the day-to-day activities, you realize it never stops. You’re always working toward something. They can be smaller things, they can be bigger things.”
With a staff of three full-time and one part-time member, it is “at least a six-day-a-week job,” she said.
“Naturally I’m putting even extra in,” she added. “I’m a go-getter. I want to get my arms around things as quickly as possible so I can figure out what we can do more for members and what we can do for the community.
“I have less free time, but worth it is worth it to do the best I can to learn the ropes and make a game plan for the short-term and the long-term future. We have to prove our value to members more and more and in different ways.”
That’s largely the result of the internet and social media, Cash explained.
Gone are the days when a small business owner in a small community would just naturally join the chamber as the chief way to relate with other businesses as well as the community in general.
“Members have a lot of choices, and we need to make sure we provide things that support them in their business,” Cash said. “It’s not just about networking.
“With today’s technology, there are so many other avenues they can pursue and they don’t all have to be in person. We’re still a great resource, but we have to stay current.”
But Cash believes she has a couple things going in her favor.
First, she’s been visible in the community and so involved that she knows Ahwatukee pretty well.
Then, there’s her business experience.
“Having been a small-business owner in the area for seven years, I understand the highs and the lows,” she said.
She also learned that her job has limits.
An Ohio State Buckeye football fan, she had hoped to score a pair of tickets for her and her husband to the Fiesta Bowl.
But it was all sold out. Even a chamber of commerce president/CEO couldn’t get a ticket.