Multi–dimensional Christian Malesic — Air Force veteran, electrical engineer, former businessowner — sees Chamber as perfect platform for businesses

Brevard Business News

by Ken Datzman

The top executives who have led the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida over the past decades have come from varied career backgrounds with lifetime experiences that have helped set them apart.

Christian Malesic’s appointment as president and chief executive officer has raised the bar for the organization, it seems. The multi–dimensional Malesic has honed a résumé rooted in valuable career experiences that cuts across a pretty wide spectrum of education, business, the military, and society in general. He was named to his position last year and has steered the organization to seven consecutive months of membership growth.

“This is a great area. New businesses are popping up all over the place. On almost every corner you turn to these days in this area of the county, there is either residential construction or commercial growth. It’s exuberating. Business growth is happening and the Melbourne Regional Chamber likes to think that it has had a little bit to do with that growth,” said the native Pennsylvanian Malesic, whose institution’s tag line is “The Business Chamber.”

He is often out in the community talking to businessowners. “After introducing myself and shaking their hand, the first question I ask them is, ‘How’s business?’ That’s part of my job, keeping a pulse on the business market. And almost unanimously, they tell me they are seeing increased prospects, which is great to hear.”

Malesic himself is a former businessowner. He was involved in one part of the construction industry with his brother for 16 years in Pennsylvania. They were electrical contractors catering to both the residential and commercial markets. The two built a successful venture, growing it to 16 employees with a $3 million budget. Typically, across the nation, electrical contracting firms tend to be small family businesses with two to five employees.

Malesic has a degree in electrical engineering from a leading university, has been a successful entrepreneur, has honorably served in the U.S. Air Force, and has even ventured into politics as a candidate on the local level in Pennsylvania, coming away a winner.

Malesic is familiar with Brevard County, having lived here in the early 1990s while serving in the military, but he was not stationed at Patrick Air Force Base. “I worked at Melbourne International Airport (now Orlando Melbourne International Airport) on a project for a company that was then known as Grumman Corp.,” said Malesic. “I was involved in the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, program.”

As an Air Force officer, Malesic was one of a small number of lead engineers handpicked to work alongside Grumman employees at the airport on JSTARS. He was in the service for six years on various assignments, rising to the rank of captain. On one of his military assignments, he met his future wife, Valerie. They have three children.

Malesic has three bachelor’s degrees. They are in electrical engineering and political science from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and in business administration, with a concentration in marketing, from Elizabethtown College, also in Pennsylvania. Malesic went on to earn an MBA degree with “distinguished honors” from Shippensburg State University in Pennsylvania.

He is also a graduate of the four–year Institute for Organizational Management, which is widely regarded as the most respected program nationwide for nonprofit and association management professionals. The program is hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Malesic is an accomplished leader and brings extensive experience in community outreach, public service, political leadership, and business and membership development, as well as marketing expertise to the Melbourne Regional Chamber.

“I have always been involved in nonprofit organizations, Chambers of Commerce, trade associations, and served on boards of directors, rising to the level of president or chairman of the board in some instances,” he said. “I would often think of that service as my ‘Superman’ persona, in that I was helping these boards make decisions and I greatly enjoyed it. I did this in the evening. My ‘Clark Kent’ persona is what I did in the construction business during the day.”

He added, “Later, I was able to parlay these experiences into politics and started running campaigns for state judge, local judge, and county commissioner candidates. I ran one congressional campaign and was involved in another. Eventually, I ran for office myself in Pennsylvania. I won and rose to chairman of the board, and that was a school board.”

Before coming to his current position, Malesic served as the executive officer at the Home Builders Association of Berks County in Reading, Pa. There, he was recognized as a “trend–setting and dynamic leader” earning the “Best–in Nation New Executive Officer” award in 2013 from the National Association of Home Builders.

Malesic said he was looking for a position where he could apply the experiences he gained in life working for trade associations, being in the political arena, being a businesowner, being an advocate, and so forth. “It all fits perfectly with the role of a Chamber of Commerce CEO. We are a trade association for businesses in the area.”

He said the Chamber’s job is to provide businesspeople with “networking opportunities, get involved in the community as advocates, and work with educational organizations. But in the end, our real purpose is to help businesses grow so they can be more profitable and run more efficiently. That’s what we do really well at the Melbourne Regional Chamber and that’s why we’re known as ‘The Business Chamber.’ We’re proud of that moniker.”

The Space Coast Tech Council is a program of the Melbourne Regional Chamber. It was created to unite and promote all technical companies in Brevard and surrounding areas.

A challenge for Chambers these days is keeping their events fresh so that they will attract their members and the community–at–large. “We have to continue to reinvent our products and service offerings so they will not become stale.”

One venue the Melbourne Regional Chamber is using to connect with people and raise its visibility is social media. “Our Facebook page has been a big success. It draws a lot of traffic. We’re also on Twitter and LinkedIn, and we’re growing our presence on both of them.”

By next year, he said his organization “will be a vastly different looking Chamber. I’m not talking about the walls or the wallpaper. I’m talking about giving our members more opportunities with which to communicate and share their knowledge and their wants and needs with us. We’re here to serve our members.”

The Melbourne Regional Chamber is affiliated with the U.S. Chamber, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.

There are roughly 7,000 Chambers in the U.S. and only 92 of them are “5–Star” accredited. The Melbourne Regional Chamber is part of that elite group, having earned the highest level of accreditation. It validates a Chamber as having programs that “benefit” their local economy and “positively” influence their community.

Local and regional Chambers are rated as “accredited” or “accredited with 3, 4 or 5 Stars.” The final determination is made by the accrediting board, a committee of U.S. Chamber board members and Chamber CEOs from around the nation.

“There are five or six Chambers in the state that are 5–Star accredited. So Florida has more than its share of 5–Star Chambers. Chambers are big in Florida. The Melbourne Regional Chamber is the only 5–Star Chamber in Brevard County. But we are not just a Brevard County Chamber. Our membership reaches into other markets, including Orlando. Businesses of all sizes belong to our Chamber. We’re proud to bring them together and that they see value in their membership,” said Malesic.