“If you want to succeed in Gwinnett, you have to become part of the fabric of the community,” says Dean Collins, owner and president of Axis Companies and the 2023 Chairman of the Gwinnett Chamber. “Being an active member of the Chamber is one of the best ways to do that.”
Collins joined the Chamber long before launching Axis, a consulting firm that offers a unique blend of services in planning, design, project management and construction management. Axis has won significant contracts across the area, including an on-call contract with MARTA for station rehabilitation; first being a $50 million contract to rehabilitate MARTA’s Indian Creek Station. In addition to his firm’s contracts with Gwinnett County Department of Transportation, they work with Cobb and DeKalb County facilities, McDonalds, Dunkin, KFC and other restaurants, hotels, and more in the Atlanta area.
Collins opened Axis in 2016 after 25 years in the industry. “I wanted to break the stiff mold I had seen and change how employees had been treated traditionally,” he says.
He structured his company with a hybrid business model long before the pandemic mainstreamed this approach. Axis was cloud-based from day one, he notes, which gave him the flexibility to hire the best talent from around the country. He now leads a team of more than 80 high-performing professionals.
According to Collins, the Gwinnett Chamber provided the platform he needed to meet a host of people that became peers and good friends. “As soon as I announced that I was starting my own firm, many business and county leaders reached out and asked how they could help,” he says.
He recalls how Chamber members like Jim Brooks helped him locate ideal office space quickly, and members like Raymer Sale helped him set up health and business insurances with favorable rates. “Networking within the Chamber really does work. That’s where you find the value of your membership.”
He believed so strongly in the mission of the Chamber and its direction that he wanted to be right in the middle of it, so he began taking on leadership roles, ultimately leading to his term as the 2023 Chairman.
As Chairman, Collins is focused on three top priorities:
- “I see a lot of new faces among our growing membership, and I want us to increase engagement so that all members are actively involved. That means we’re not just showing up to a handful of events during the year but are engaged in committees, bringing in new members and showing new members how to get the highest return on their investment in the Chamber,” he says.
- Unstoppable when united. Collins is pleased by the Chamber’s growth and sees an opportunity for the organization to make significant impacts by working together. “With size, people tend to get siloed and hang out with the same people,” according to Collins. “Let’s work together this year and really hit on the issues and items we feel are most important for this business community. Afterall, we are unstoppable when united.”
- Complete the building rehab. “The Gwinnett Chamber building is going through a renaissance. As Chairman, I’ll push to get it completed this year,” Collins says.
His advice to other Chamber members and business leaders? “We’ve all heard that you get out of something what you put into it, and that’s absolutely how the Chamber works,” he explains. “Don’t be a sideliner. Roll up your sleeves and devote your time and energy to this group. The relationships you can build here, you can’t get anywhere else. The Chamber is a true champion of business.”