WATERVILLE — Brad Fisher’s shift from 15 years in banking and lending to full-time ownership of a central Maine skydiving shop may strike some as a radical departure, but Fisher says he’s always been willing to take risks to get where he wants to be in life.
After many satisfying years of working as a mortgage loan officer for individual homebuyers and small business owners, Fisher said he was ready to shed the suit and don flip-flops as a pilot for fellow adventurers.
“You go and make it happen if you want it,” Fisher said in a recent interview. “It doesn’t show up if you wait for somebody else to do it for you.”
Fisher credits that determination and work ethic for much of his success in life and says it was professional interest that first drew him to the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. When he got involved with the chamber in 2007, Fisher said he saw the business group as an opportunity to network and drum up new business. But almost a decade later, Fisher has volunteered thousands of hours organizing events, attending meetings and helping the group craft its policy positions.
For his tireless work, including two years as chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, Fisher has been chosen to receive the group’s prestigious Elias A. Joseph award. Joseph volunteered during almost 28 years with the group, and those who receive the award in his name are expected to show equal commitment.
“We don’t give it out every year,” said Christian Savage, the chamber’s program director. “Joseph put in over 10,000 hours with the chamber, so we try to get our recipients as close as we can.”
Savage said the group knew for a while that they wanted to give Fisher the award but joked, “We had to make him work for it.”
Of all his memories of Fisher’s contributions and leadership with the chamber, Savage said it was the moment in 2013 when Fisher agreed to serve a second year as the chamber’s chairman that really stood out. Chairmen are expected to attend close to 100 meetings and over 30 events a year. With such an extensive time commitment, most only serve one term. But as the chamber prepared to transition to its next leader, that person dropped out, leaving the group in a bind. They asked Fisher, and he agreed to stay on.
“We went from panic mode to being assured that we’d be in a good spot with his leadership,” Savage recalled. “We’re not quite sure where all the time comes from, but he manages and he really symbolizes what you want in a great business and community leader.”
For his part, Fisher said he was “floored” when he found out he would receive the award. As a longtime member of the board, he had vetted many of the previous recipients and felt humbled to be included among their ranks.
“There are some pretty impressive names on that list,” he said.
In addition to his work with the chamber, Fisher has served with the Waterville Airport Committee, United Way of Mid-Maine Board, Central Maine Youth Hockey Association Board and Sunrise Rotary of Waterville. He also officiates high school hockey games when he can.
With more than 17 years of pilot experience under his belt, Fisher said he’s excited about his latest venture. He founded Vacationland Skydiving in 2011 and, seeing opportunities to grow the business, began working full time in 2016. That year was Vacationland’s best to date.
Even with a new business to nurture, however, Fisher plans to continue his work with the chamber. A self-described “politics junkie,” he sits on the group’s public policy committee and helps determine its stances and approaches to legislation coming out of Augusta.
“It’s always good to be part of something that’s very successful,” Fisher said. “That’s the chamber.”
Kate McCormick — 861-9218