As featured in the Spring 2020 issue of The Executive, an online magazine featuring members of Gwinnett Chamber’s Chairman’s Club.
Jordan Shumate, managing partner of Shuma Sports, grew up in the Gwinnett Chamber. Her mom, Gwinnett Chamber Chairman Tammy Shumate said that she and her husband Greg dragged Jordan and her brother to everything when they were younger. “It was fun,” Jordan said. “I never complain about dressing up and I actually enjoy networking and meeting new people.”
Getting the kids involved early in both the community and the family business was important to Tammy. Her own parents set a similar example of public leadership when she was growing up and she sees value in preparing the younger generation of business leaders. “If you don’t include the young professionals, start getting them engaged and show them the Chamber and how business happens, you’ve got a lot of older people there and no one to continue the growth,” Tammy said.
“Creating a group of young professionals that are engaged, enjoy being there and see that their business grows from the connections they’re making helps create a base for the future of the Chamber,” agreed Jordan, who serves as the Chairman of the Gwinnett Young Professionals, a personal and professional development program led by the Gwinnett Chamber, and a member of the Gwinnett Chamber board.
In addition to serving as leaders in the Chamber, both women also run successful Gwinnett County businesses. Tammy leads corporate development at Capital City Home Loans, the company her husband Greg started in 2006, originally called BrandMortgage. “I came to work there kicking and screaming,” Tammy joked, “but we were small and he needed help.” Initially she took on accounting and other administrative aspects of running the business, but eventually, with her involvement in Grayson City Council as well as multiple chambers of commerce and nonprofit boards, she settled into representing the company to the community at large – a role her husband calls being “the face of the company.”
Keeping business in the family, Jordan has owned and run Shuma Sports with her younger brother Zach since 2014. A uniform, sports and specialty apparel company, Shuma Sports also offers promotional goods. “We have pretty much anything you can put a logo on,” Jordan said.
Celebrated as young entrepreneur small business of the year in 2017 by the Chamber, Shuma Sports’ success has a good deal to do with Jordan’s Chamber involvement. “The Chamber has really allowed me access to a lot of people and to give back to the community and grow my young professional network,” she said.
“The Chamber is like a catalyst for connecting leaders,” Tammy agreed. “If your business isn’t connected somehow with the Chamber, I really don’t know how you’re making any type of connections within the community. The networking, the programming and events – all of that is huge for growing a business.”
Tammy credits the Chamber with helping her build brand recognition for BrandMortgage and appreciates that continued benefit now that the company has become a part of Capital City Bank and adopted the new name Capital City Home Loans. “We’re really excited to get the word out about the change to Capital City Home Loans,” she said. “It’s going to enlarge our footprint so much.” The change not only brings a new name but also increases the number of loan officers and office locations the company has to offer.
Though Capital City Home Loans has been a member of the Chairman’s Club for years, Jordan only recently upgraded Shuma Sports’ membership and is already reaping the benefits. “The opportunities that I’ve found within the Chairman’s Club, the contacts and the business that we get from it is much different from what I’ve experienced over the last four years as a regular Chamber member,” she said. “At the Chairman’s Club events, I meet people who are in charge of purchasing and can actually make decisions for my business.”
“The Chairman’s Club is a different kind of networking,” Tammy said. “Not even necessarily for business; it serves as a great support system.”
As one of the younger members of the Club, Jordan has experienced that support, connecting with more experienced executives to bounce ideas off of and talk about the day-to-day efforts of running a company. “It’s given me a bunch of good feedback from people with much more experience than me,” she said.
The benefits of being a part of the Chamber go beyond just the professional realm as well. Jordan said the social aspect has also been rewarding. “It’s a huge networking tool, but I’ve seen a lot of benefit recently from the social aspect and made friends I otherwise would never have come in contact with,” she said.
Chamber events have also opened Jordan’s eyes to nonprofits she otherwise wouldn’t have known about. For example, her role on the board of Mosaic Georgia, a nonprofit that serves sexual abuse victims, came about because of a connection she made through the Chamber. “It’s helped us be good stewards in the community,” Jordan said.
And giving back is an ingrained notion in the Shumate family. “You don’t want to just take everything,” Tammy said. “We feel like our company was born in Gwinnett County and we want to give back to the County that’s helped our business be successful.” Her years on the Chamber board have helped her and her company grow, and now as chairman, she is excited to help connect the Gwinnett business leaders with the next generation.
“There’s a lot of young professionals who have started their own businesses,” Tammy said. “The millennials are hugely prevalent right now and they don’t do business the same way. My kids don’t do business the same way I do, and neither is right or wrong. It’s all about connecting those ideas.” She said one of the Chamber Board’s goals this year is to support that connection.
Jordan’s leadership of Gwinnett Young Professionals, which fosters community engagement of Gwinnett professionals ages 21 to 35, is helping the Chamber with that goal. “If you don’t have a group that is dedicated to young professionals at the Chamber, the Chamber will essentially age out of itself,” she said. “It’s really important to have that foundation of young people growing up in the Chamber to carry on the legacy we have in Gwinnett County.”
Gwinnett Chamber Offers Guidance and Connection During Global Pandemic
Though COVID-19 has limited the in-person networking so essential to Gwinnett Chamber members, Gwinnett Chamber Chairman Tammy Shumate said that the Chamber has proven to be more important for businesses now than ever before. “The Chamber staff has truly risen to the occasion and is working round the clock to make sure we are offering assistance to our membership,” she said.
Though Chamber staff has been working remotely, they are offering a 24-hour hotline for business questions as well as online meetings and seminars. Some of these events are geared toward how to operate a business remotely through technology, while others have included government officials and health experts to provide updates on COVID-19 and what could lie ahead.
Jordan Shumate, Chairman of the Gwinnett Young Professionals and Tammy’s daughter, said the Young Professionals group plans to offer many free events and webinars to address how working from home and the changing economic landscape will affect workers under 35. She also said that the online meeting platform Zoom has helped members stay in touch. “This has changed the way we network. Maybe even for the better,” Jordan said.
Tammy also remains optimistic, “Even though the circumstances aren’t good, this is a great opportunity for us to learn a new way of doing business and staying engaged. I truly believe when we come out of this, we will be even stronger.”
Written by Heather Collins. Photo by Jennifer Stalcup Photography.