Chairman's Update




Your Dreamy, Wise, & Unreasonable

Leadership Fredericksburg Program


 All dream; but not equally.

Those who dream by night

in the dusty recesses of their minds

Awake to find that it was vanity;

But the dreamers of day are dangerous,

That they may act their dreams with

Open eyes to make them possible.

-          T.E. Lawrence                           


Among his many accomplishments, T.E. Lawrence (aka “Lawrence of Arabia”) was also a renowned author and poet.  His poem shown above accurately reflects the sentiments and objectives of your amazing Leadership Fredericksburg program – for it truly does produce courageous, bold, “Dreamers of Day!”  As a 2012 graduate, I am proud to claim association with this amazing program.  As Chair of the FRCC Board, I am privileged to serve with 12 other LF graduates on the current board.  As I work and recreate in the community, I am honored to associate with the program’s 250+ alumni. 


A central theme of the program is another famous quote: Everyone I meet is wiser than I, in that I learn from each of them. - Ralph Waldo Emerson  


With 25-30 Fellows each year, drawn from professions and organizations all across the region, your Leadership Fredericksburg program exposes its participants to a deep-dive in leadership development curriculum – ranging from topics such as Work, Family, & Self Balance; to Change Management; and Courageous Conversations – to name a few.  As the year progresses, with an intimate “non-attribution” confidentiality, the Fellows grow immensely in their leadership breadth and depth. 


Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves.  All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.” - George Bernard Shaw                               


The net result of this “unreasonable” program, as we prepare for its 11th graduation ceremony, is that it is creating immense change in our community – with the benefits realized from such a strong cadre of leaders who are fully prepared to succeed in their respective careers.  But we can always use even more!  Please give strong consideration to either attending next year’s class yourself or sending an up-and-coming leader from within your organization.  Applications will be available from May 1 – July 1.  Good luck!



Dr. J.R. Flatter LF ‘12 is Chairman and Chief Learning Officer at Flatter, Inc.



GMAC Taking a Whole-of-Government Approach for Civilian
and Military Businesses


Happy Summer!  What a wonderful time of year to live and work in our great community!  It is truly an honor to serve as Chairman of the Chamber Board – as your regional chamber is truly “best-in-class” among its peers.

Among our many excellent programs, I would like to take some time to focus on our Government & Military Affairs Council (GMAC).  The GMAC’s mission is to advocate for and promote our government, military, and national defense economies by supporting the interests of the military, military families, the local defense industry and the region as a whole.

A distinct advantage of the GMAC is its purposeful mission focus on serving the “whole of government” - that includes not only the Department of Defense, but also all civilian government agencies such as the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and all others.  This expanded focus is necessary because, although our region contains three military installations, our residents and government contracting companies work for and serve the whole of government.  Therefore, GMAC can and should serve the whole of government. 

Among its many value propositions, the GMAC will gather relevant stakeholders across the civilian and military business sectors for information-sharing conferences.  These stakeholders will include but not be limited to commercial businesses; government operators; government contracting officers; and government small business offices. 

A potential mechanism for collecting relevant stakeholders while ensuring sufficient value delivery is to focus each conference on a specific agency and a major current acquisition.  Each year, most government agencies have one or more major acquisitions.  Sharing sufficient information across all stakeholders is challenging in a disparate environment.  By purposefully bringing the stakeholders together, the GMAC can ensure increased information-sharing efficiency and effectiveness.  Concurrently, while exchanging information on these major acquisitions, conference participants can also have “offline” discussions about other peripheral acquisitions. 

A strong Steering Committee of prestigious volunteer community leaders led by Gerald Childress, owner of The Childress Agency and President of Capital Technology Group, has formed to guide the GMAC. Gerald served as Communication Center Operator in the US Marine Corps – to include service during Desert Storm. The committee’s vice-chair is Nick Minor, is the Manager of Communications & Research at the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance. Nick served in the US Navy on board the USS Carl Vinson. He was on board for the Haiti Earthquake relief efforts, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The Chamber board and staff stand ready to support these visionary leaders in any capacity they may need.

July 2017


J.R. Flatter began as the 82nd Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors this month. He joined the board three years ago and served as Vice-chair in 2016.

 J.R. Flatter appointed Chamber’s Chairman of Board of Directors

By Dawn Haun

I felt nervous about the interview with J.R. as he shadowed me into his renovated firehouse office building 

on Princess Anne Street in downtown Fredericksburg. Once again, he offered a warm greeting, and as we began the conversation, my nervousness changed to intrigue as he started to tell me about strategic plans for the Chamber of Commerce Board, his business, and passion for family.

Family and business go hand-in-hand

J.R. and his wife Alicia co-founded Flatter and Associates in 2002. The business was in Stafford County. They provide support service solutions for the government and commercial partners. The business has evolved into an inter-generational company with three of their four children working there. Brittany Chiang, Flatter's daughter, who has worked at the business’s inception and serves as a chief financial officer. Also, Alexandra, Lucas, and Oliver Chiang (son in law) work in the company. Jacob serves as a director on the Board.

Flatter is a fan of nepotism.“It’s great for many reasons,” says Flatter. “The business itself, the ability to make decisions as a family and it makes things less complicated. We all contribute strategically, and the others on a daily basis.”

Serving in the Marines for 23 years

Flatter grew up on a small dairy farm in Washington State. He joined the Marines in 1980,­ rising from the rank of private to staff sergeant before receiving a commission as a 2nd lieutenant and eventually retiring as a major.

Throughout his military career, he knew when he retired he would start his own business. Fortunately, he started right out of the gate with a 90-day government contract, which rolled into something longer and continued for 15 years. “I was a babe in the woods,” admitted Flatter. “I had no idea what I was getting into; I was naïve in the market I was entering. Government contracting was a different business module; it was learning curve, and still is 15 years later.”

Flatter’s analogy on starting a business like learning how to drive. “Just jump in and drive and hope you have enough knowledge not to hurt anyone while going through the process,” he said. “But even after driving for more than 40 years, I still pull out in front of people, make turns too fast. It’s a life-long engagement and learning. I have tons of scars on my back just like all who run a business.”

The company is in a growth and transition period since winning several large contracts recently. This means they will have to change their business model. They will no longer be a small business, which Flatter says is a good thing. “We are reinventing our services, strategy, and leadership,” he said.  “I will be a full-time chairman, making Brittany Chiang CEO, Oliver Chiang, division president, and Jeff Covino, COO.”

Characteristics of a leader

Flatter is one of the instructors for the Chamber’s Leadership Fredericksburg program, which is a highly selective, nine-month course. He along with Dave Corderman, Ph.D., Senior Partner of Academy Leadership Associates, and Susan Spears, Executive Director of Leadership Fredericksburg, teamed up when the decision made for it to be community-led. “It’s getting stronger every year and great to watch the maturation of the fellows in the nine months,” says Flatter. “The depth of influence is amazing.”

There are many characteristics and styles of a good leader. One distinctive standout of Flatter’s is ‘Courage Competency.’ “To be a leader, you volunteer to step in front of others and say ‘follow me’ which takes courage,” says Flatter. “To make the decisions knowing it will be beneficial for others but not for all. Decisions followed by humility, leadership is a position of privilege, and you have to remain humble in that position.”

Robust plans and challenges for the chamber

The Chamber board has a strategic plan for 2017 which includes objectives, budget planning, and new membership due structure. “The board is amazing now,” said Flatter. “Every member is engaged in various community issues, so nothing will be rubber stamped.”

The board has challenges and decisions to make this year.  According to Flatter, it is important to “socialize and communicate where we are headed, so there are no surprises and to inform board members before voting.”

The newly-elected Vice Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors, Adam Fried, and CEO of Atlantic Builders will lead and advocate for a better community engagement, membership retention and formulate the chamber investments to generate revenue. “We fully expect the budget requirement in the next couple years to grow and activity to meet that growth,” said Flatter.
The chamber’s membership fluctuates monthly, and retention is a priority for the board. Flatter commented that this is a multifaceted challenge. “If we deliver value, we would expect to retain members, but of course, there is still need to communicate the value of the chamber to existing members and to those who are not aware of the chamber. I am confident we’re going to be successful there,” said Flatter. “The decisions we make now will impact our revenue streams in two years, so decisions must be thoughtful and purposeful.”

I left the interview with Dr. J.R. Flatter knowing that together, the board and staff will continue to guide the chamber towards another epic year.