Photo by Jeff Hobson

“We are making the South Sound the best place to do business in Washington state.”

Those words are the driving force of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, which is headed by Tom Pierson. Over the past couple decades, the fruits of that phrase have manifested in the way of Tacoma’s upbringing. The area has grown up and filled in, Pierson said, and now people want to live, work, and play here.

For example, downtown Tacoma used to be lifeless on the weekends, and now, as more people have claimed the city as part of their home address, it’s become a destination for entertainment as well as a place people want to do business.

In recent years, area leaders have proved that by working together, they can make an impact that is sculpting Pierce County for generations to come — lobbying the Washington State Legislature to complete SR 167 and obtaining nearly $1 billion to do so is one example. After graduating from Washington State University in 1993, Pierson began a career in politics as a legislative aide in Olympia for former state senator (and current King County Councilmember) Pete von Reichbauer. When von Reichbauer ran for office at the King County Council, Pierson transferred with him, and they worked together for 10 years.

“What I really noticed is that the business community wasn’t being represented, from small mom-and pop businesses to the larger corporations,” Pierson said. “Chamber organizations were networking organizations, so I saw this big void and this big need for businesses to be better represented by their chambers.”

Pierson worked with the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce as president and CEO for eight years before joining the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber in 2011. Currently, the Chamber has 1,800 members and went from a $1.5 million to a $3 million operation. Much of Pierson’s pride comes from looking around at the many players who have aligned to elevate the community.

When Pierson isn’t at the office, he’s coaching soccer for his three high-school-aged kids; spending time with his wife of 18 years, Cindy; and biking, backpacking, and taking care of the chickens at their Milton home — an eighth-grade science fair project from two years ago that turned into a full-time project.

“I was just taking care of them this morning,” Pierson said.

Here’s a deeper look at a day in Pierson’s life.


 

5:30 a.m.
My morning routine consists of reading media reports, catching up on social media, checking email, and then clearing my head with a run. Today, I am on a 3-mile run on the road, wearing my reflective gear to avoid all the sleepy commuters. My morning runs consistently take me past local elementary and middle schools, Veterans Memorial, and the community center. I have lived with my family in Milton for the past 16 years and love getting to see the city from the pedestrian perspective.


7 a.m.
My 16-year-old daughter and newly minted licensed driver, Abby. We are off to her school in central Tacoma, as she has zero hour for her high school drumline team. From school, I start my day at my office in downtown Tacoma.


10 a.m.
There has been plenty of discussion in our region about the future of our manufacturing and industrial businesses, so today I am with some local business people. Pictured are Dave Gering and Jordan Royer from Seattle’s Manufacturing Industrial Council.


Noon
Working lunch with the chair Dale King and the World Trade Center Tacoma Executive Committee. The Chamber recently has taken over the management of this group, and we are focused on bringing more value to our businesses that are exporting to the world — 95 percent of the world’s economy is outside the United States.


3:30 p.m.
My 17-year-old daughter, Grace, and friend Amanda are at their first high school track meet of the year. Both girls attend Life Christian Academy in Tacoma. Combined, they run in four different relays and two individual events.


5 p.m.
This evening, I am at the Chamber’s Annual Happy Hour Business Expo with 62 vendors and nearly 400 people. Pictured is my buddy La Marco Mitchell of American Cancer Society. My wife is a cancer survivor. We also have lost family members to cancer, so I try to do anything La Marco asks to help find a cure.


6:30 p.m.
Soccer practice with Fife Milton Edgewood (FME) Fusion 01 Team. My soccer team practices two nights a week at our local middle school.  I have coached this team for the past eight years. Pictured here are a few of the core girls who have played all those years. I also coach my son’s team and previously coached my older daughter’s team.


8:30 p.m.
My 14-year-old son Jack and I doing an evening workout. Many days I work out at B. Well in Tacoma, but if my schedule doesn’t allow, I make time for an evening workout at home with my son.