John Musella was roasted by State Sen. Scott Wilk. He was praised by U.S. Rep. Steve Knight. He was lauded in a video tribute by community leaders including Holly Schroeder and Bill Miranda.
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce’s bright future – the theme of its 94th annual Awards and Installation Gala on Friday night – wouldn’t have been possible without Musella’s leadership, they all said.
“It’s back,” state Assemblyman Dante Acosta declared of the SCV chamber, which, prior to Musella’s year-long stint as its chairman, had been mired in deep debt and operating without many of the modern resources needed to fully serve its members.
“Thank you, John, for your time and your effort,” Wilk said in a rare moment of seriousness following a rambling roast during which he attempted to pair Musella with President Donald Trump, an effort met with both laughter and sighs from the crowd of hundreds inside TPC Valencia.
“John stood up as a leader,” Troy Hooper said during the video tribute.
Moments later, as Musella was called to the podium, everybody stood for him.
In his final address before Hooper was officially installed to succeed him as chairman, Musella called for continued unity across the business community and applauded the teamwork of the chamber staff, executive committee and board of directors over the past year.
With Musella at the helm, the chamber reported clearing nearly a quarter-million of debt in 2017, entering this new year with a “surplus,” he said. The chamber also relocated to a new office on Westinghouse Place off Newhall Ranch Road, a space complete with new computers and other technology as well as new furniture.
Also, Musella oversaw development of the newly created Chamber Institute, an executive-level think tank designed to bring together local leaders to strategically target key business issues. The venture will be led by Dr. Dianne Van Hook, the chancellor of College of the Canyons.
“A year ago, I stood up here and said we’d build a bigger, better, stronger chamber,” Musella said. “And, today, I’m proud to say we did.”
He added, “The third-largest city in Los Angeles County deserves a strong chamber of commerce!”
It’ll be up to Hooper to lead the revived chamber.
In a light-hearted moment during a brief installation ceremony, Knight asked Hooper to raise his right hand and said, “John Musella wrote this … Please don’t screw up what I did.”
Once the laughter subsided, Hooper pledged to build on the chamber’s successes.
“The future of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce is so bright, you’re gonna need shades,” Hooper said as he put on sunglasses to conclude his speech.
The annual gala also included several awards for local individuals and businesses:
– In a first, the chamber board offered its own award, recognizing Musella’s husband, Ivan Volschenk, for his support and volunteer contributions. Like Musella, Volschenk also received a standing ovation as he came forward to collect his award.
– Karen Crawford (Ambassador’s Award) and Peter Warda (Chairman’s Award) were honored for their service to the chamber.
– Valencia-based Skycrest Signs and Graphics, just six years into its existence, was named Small Business of the Year.
– Williams Homes, founded in 1996 and led by SCV resident Lance Williams, was honored as Medium Business of the Year.
– Princess Cruises, an industry leader and one of the SCV’s largest employers, won Large Business of the Year.
Musella – of course – left with an award, too. He received the 2017 Outstanding Dedication Award.