New Chair Bobbi Thury embraces teamwork in leading the Chamber
By Jennie Doyen
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
Anyone who has spent some time with Bobbi Thury could tell you that she is a go-getter.
Thury is an attorney and the co-founder of Legacy Law Firm, P.C. She dedicates her work to helping businesses and families plan for the future. She seeks ways to challenge herself and to learn and grow professionally. She is an active community volunteer, freely giving her time to the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce as well as several other nonprofit organizations.
“She doesn't stop! She is always looking for ways to improve the business, better herself and lift up others,” said Felan Link, Director of Operations for Legacy. “Her passion just trickles down to everyone around here. It is tough not to be motivated when Bobbi is so motivated.”
Jayna Voss, co-founder of Legacy, said there is no one she would rather have as a business partner. “Whether it's raising a family, running a law practice or serving the community, Bobbi puts her heart and soul into everything she does,” said Voss. “What really sets her apart is her genuine enthusiasm and desire to create something better and make a difference.”
On Oct. 1, Thury began a 12-month term as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. As she begins her year in the Chamber's top leadership position, Thury is focused on teamwork, connections and the value of membership.
“A team is stronger than any individual,” said Thury. “The Chamber is our common ground, it brings people together to make things happen. We are stronger together and we are better together – as individuals, as businesses and as a community.”
Thury sees opportunities for the Chamber to build on an already strong track record of advancing and promoting economic health and quality of life in the Sioux Falls area. “I'm completely amazed by how much the Chamber does for businesses and our community. Still, we need to always keep evolving and adding value,” she said.
One way to do that is to grow the membership. According to Thury, the best way to grow is for current members to invite their colleagues and business contacts to join the Chamber and engage in its programming. “There is so much value in a Chamber membership. We need to be sharing that value, telling others about the return on investment they could see by joining and being involved.”
For Thury, the greatest value of a Chamber membership comes from the connections she has formed over the years. She shares the story of being relatively new to Sioux Falls when Dan Doyle of Cutler Law Firm invited her to attend a Chamber event. She went and was immediately drawn in by the opportunities to learn and grow. “I was at the kickoff party for the Young Professionals Network,” she said. “Membership in the YPN allowed me to form new connections and to learn from established leaders. Then I got to dive into the inner workings of the city and business community through Leadership Sioux Falls.”
These experiences and others with the Chamber helped expand Thury's network and she credits in part her Chamber involvement for providing inspiration to launch her own business at a time that some might consider to be less than ideal.
Thury and her law partner Jayna Voss started Legacy Law Firm just three years ago. At the time, Thury was eight months pregnant, so one month after opening their firm, she found herself with four children ages five and under and a new business. She credits having an amazing business partner and team at work, and lots of help from family, for being able to do everything.
Since opening their doors, they have doubled the size of their employee team, built their own office building, and most recently, launched two complimentary businesses.
Legacy began with an office in Donegal Center, a mixed-use complex owned by Lloyd Companies. Felan Link said, “The phone was ringing the first day the office was open. I don't know how people even got the number, but they knew Bobbi and Jayna and they wanted to schedule an appointment.”
The firm grew so quickly that within two months they needed more space. Lloyd Companies worked with Legacy, allowing them to rent an apartment above their office since all lower office space was filled. The kitchen counter was a desk, the cupboards stored files and employees worked in the bedroom and living areas. Thury laughed, “You've heard of the basement start-up story? Well, ours is an apartment start-up story!”
The story illustrates that relationships matter. “Lloyd easily could have told us no on the apartment. But they chose to work with us to find a solution. I know that having those personal connections makes a difference – because you can have a conversation and work together.”
Entrepreneurship was not exactly what Thury expected.
“I realized it would be a leap of faith to start our own business, but I quickly learned it is a walk of faith,” she shared. “It's giving all you've got every day and saying prayers!”
As with any new business, money was tight when they opened. “We started our firm with zero clients so we had to make hard choices about how to spend money. We made decisions based off long-term growth so if it meant we personally swept the floors to allocate the money toward our growth, we did it. Even from the beginning, we saw our Chamber membership as an investment in our business.”
Thury attributes Legacy's growth and success to the willingness of their team to not just embrace disruption and innovation but to live and do it. And her team agrees. “My favorite part is that Bobbi regularly says, ‘do you think we should try this?' and then we do. There is always is a new idea to explore,” said Link.
For her part, Thury finds inspiration by looking outside of her industry. “Part of what I love about being involved in the Chamber is that I meet so many innovative leaders. I find inspiration from them and what they are doing in other industries and then apply it in our own business.”
She goes on to state that the connections that you make can make your business. “If you want to develop great connections, the Chamber is your best avenue to the best people.”
Networking is Thury's favorite part of the Chamber's Annual Meeting each year. The 113th Annual Meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, featuring keynote speaker Sekou Andrews. The event kicks off at 4:30 p.m. with a networking reception and with Thury's encouragement, that portion of the evening is being ramped up this year. There will be live music, hors d'oeuvres and other elements to help set the stage for the remainder of the evening.
“You don't want to miss a minute of the networking reception!” said Thury. “It is the networking event of the year and a fantastic opportunity to form new connections and rekindle old connections.”
Also at the Annual Meeting, Thury will share more about what she sees in the year ahead for the Chamber. Continuing our workforce development efforts and including everyone on the team is likely to be part the focus in 2020.
When she first joined in 2014, Thury was one of just a few women serving on the Board of Directors. She will be the fifth woman in the Chamber's 113-year history to hold the Chair position. She said that while there is still room for improvement, she is encouraged by the progress made in recent years in growing diversity and inclusion within the Chamber.
“I would like our membership base to be a reflection of our entire business community,” she said. That means focusing on programs and services for small businesses and strengthening the professional education opportunities for individuals.
“We need to make sure we are maximizing the most important thing we have in the Sioux Falls area: our human capital. We need to ensure every person has opportunities to fulfill their potential.”
It all goes right back to teamwork. “If we're going to be the best version of ourselves, our business, our Chamber, and our community, we need the best team around the table. And that means engaging people with varying experiences and strengths.”
The Chamber is at the center of keeping our businesses and community vibrant, said Thury. So the bottom line goal is to keep working on that and keep striving to improve.
“Life is too short to not be all in with your best.”