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Hospitality Is His Superpower

Paul Beachnau works to put Gaylord on the map

By Kathy Gibbons

Paul Beachnau took his last college exam on a Friday, graduated on Saturday, moved back to Gaylord on Sunday, and began his job as the executive director of the Gaylord Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday. He was 22.

Now 60, he has never regretted staying in his hometown or in the same line of work. He not only led the chamber then but also helped form the Gaylord Area Tourism Bureau where he is also executive director.

“We have always been independent organizations,” he says. “But we also have had a very firm stance that we need to work together. I have always felt the tourism bureau needed to be the chamber’s biggest fan, and the chamber needed to be the tourism bureau’s biggest fan.”

Paul Beachnau outside the Otsego Resort in Gaylord || Courtesy of Erin Leigh Imagery

Beachnau likes to share a quote he heard from Bill Geist of DMO Proz of Madison, Wisconsin: “Tourism is a first date for economic development.” He says that’s borne out by some of the community successes he has witnessed and shared in: furthering the Alpine Village concept that originated in the 1960s to give what had been “a sleepy northern Michigan town” an identity that put it on the map.

“We were able to leverage that same philosophy into developing the Gaylord Golf Mecca brand and what we call our ‘All Outdoors’ brand—our tagline and logo,” he says. “It’s no coincidence that our business and economic growth parallels almost identically with the formation of the tourism bureau.”

Since then, Gaylord has evolved to become what Beachnau describes as “sort of a retail hub for northern Michigan.” Meanwhile, he has been able to enjoy a career that couldn’t have been a better match for a man who loves people, marketing, Michigan, and the outdoors. In fact, he most recently received the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers’ Golden Glow Award recognizing his dedication to natural resources and traditional outdoor sports.

“My kids always used to tease me—they still do: ‘Dad, how was your day? Did you take someone out skiing today? Are you taking someone golfing? Going to lunch?’” he laughs. But at the end of the day, his career is something he simply excels at.

Beachnau keeps his positive outlook even after recently experiencing a devastating house fire. It was a total loss, but he’s rebuilding and says, “All things considered, I’m OK.”

“Hands down, it’s tourism and hospitality,” he says. “My sister-in-law says hospitality is my superpower.”

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