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New JDA Director Hired

By Staff | Nov 20, 2015

The Rugby Job Development Authority Board Wednesday passed a vote to hire a new executive director.

The board hired Joseph T. Pelt to assume the post, which was previously held by SyAnn Graber, who retired in September. He will officially start the position on Monday, Dec. 14.

(Disclosure note: Pelt is currently the editor of the Pierce County Tribune.)

“I am excited about the challenge and humbled by the faith the executive committee and the board gave me with a unanimous vote,” Pelt said. “I know that I am up to the challenge and I have lived my life knowing anything and everything is possible if you just believe you can do it and I would not have taken the job if I did not have that belief.”

Pelt also said: “The only thing that possibly could be better than being born and raised in Rugby is choosing Rugby as your new forever home. That is my plan and I am looking forward to being part of its bright future.”

Pelt said he comes to the director position with a background in business.

“My forte was building companies from scratch with emphasis on outside the box thinking and over-the-top customer service. I have an extensive hands-on understanding of the retail petroleum industry and all facets of real estate,” Pelt said. “I have always followed the basic rule KISS (Keep it simple stupid) and the tagline for my companies have always been ‘Back to Basics’. I think business people have a tendency to over complicate business with theories and marketing gimmicks rather than provide a good product or service, at a reasonable price, with accessibility, exposure and over the top customer service. I think if you follow those simple rules customer/clients will flock to your business.”

After attending college at the University of South Florida, Pelt served from 1983 to 1992 as a multi-unit district manager of L.D. Travis Oil, overseeing the largest two-state Amoco convenience store contract operations in the U.S. From 1995 until 2014 he was the managing director and multi-unit operations and district manager for L&R Title & Title Acquisition I, and from 2004 to 2014 was a broker and multi-unit/multi-business operations manager for FL Real Estate & Business Solutions. From July 2013 to March 2015 he served as the editor and operations manager of The County Times, a newspaper based in Algoma, Wis.

Pelt said he has seen a lot of positives the city has in terms of economic development.

“You have a regional hospital; you have a manufacturing base; you have mass transit with the train, you have a strong art community, you have a wonderful faith-based community; you have strong, eclectic local businesses; and you have a strong academic presence with your school system. I will be looking to enhance what Rugby offers and create synergy between all the factions that exist,” Pelt said.

Pelt said one way he plans to enhance the city will involve some help.

“The first thing I plan on doing is to create a list of initiatives, with input from the community and its leaders, and approved by the JDA Board and then prioritize that list,” Pelt said. “I want an open door policy and I need citizen input. I will be accountable to the tax payers since this is funded by their tax dollars. I look to market Rugby beyond its borders through social media, web site and on-line JDA Business Journal. There are two things I think is important about being in a small town first and foremost is that you always remember its tradition and you embrace that tradition. The second thing is that while embracing the tradition and values of the town you have to market beyond its borders for those who are visiting, those who want to visit and those thinking about visiting.”

Pelt said that as director, one priority for the JDA will be increasing interest as well as sales of lots in Chalmer’s First Addition.

“Chalmers will be a priority,” Pelt said. “We are going to add aesthetic value to the existing lots, work with local lenders to come up with finance option on construction perm loans, reach out to builders to build a spec home or two as well as developers who may have an interest in building out the community. The most important thing: We will increase our marketing footprint to a national level at a fraction of the cost currently being spent.”


The board renewed the Lyric Theater’s lease. The JDA is listed on the lease as the landlord, and Friends of the Lyric is listed as the tenant.

The board approved the treasurer’s report, financial statements and minutes of the Oct. 21 meeting.

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