Tony Saddy is accustomed to making his own opportunities, from the ground up.

Tony, owner and certified personal trainer at Get Fit Maryville on 911 East Broadway, knew only one area family before relocating from the Greater Chicago area to launch his personal training and wellness center in Maryville.

“I’m a Yankee. Got my bachelor’s degree in business administration and psychology. I worked up North for years, first as human resources director for a couple companies, and then found my calling as a certified personal trainer,” he said.

He took vacations to Blount County, where his friends showed him the beauty of the Smokies, the friendliness of the community, and breathtaking routes for riding his Harley motorcycle. Tony was intrigued.

“I did my due diligence about the area and became convinced this would a great place for my work.” Arriving in late 2012, the Blount Chamber was the first local organization he joined.

Becoming an enthusiastic Chamber Ambassador, Tony attended as many events as possible while building his training center. But the Chamber morning and afternoon mixers were not workable, “because that’s when a bulk of my clients train.”

Tony realized other local professionals also wanted to informally mingle with business people and prospective clients in the middle of the day.  Contacting the Chamber, he pitched creation of a mid-day networking event, which became the extremely popular Power Connect Lunch.  It’s held bimonthly at Maryville’s Smoky Mountain Brewery and other local restaurants.

“This Chamber staff encouraged me and trusted me enough to let me just run with it,” Tony said.

He’s the “event chair/emcee” of sorts at the informal event. He encourages attendees, in round-robin style, to introduce their business, current area of focus, upcoming event or business need.

And Tony credits the Blount Chamber with the willingness “to take a chance on me inventing a program that filled a need for me and others LIKE me. That flexibility is HUGE. Why WOULDN’T I want to be part of that kind of organization? They’ve got my back,” he said.