In a move that shocked board members, Key Largo Chamber President Randy King resigned last week and has since been replaced by his runner-up to the post.
Craig Cope and his wife, Shanti, moved to Key Largo two years ago where they have opened Island Décor in Tavernier that specializes in interior decorations.
"He was the second choice," said Dawn DeBrule, a board member who led the search committee. "We had selected over Craig because of Randy's previous chamber experience."
But she said the board was pleased to offer the job to Cope.
"He has an extensive business background," she said. "He's very engaging and energetic."
Debrule says she is referring to his extensive sales experience with Philip Morris in Richmond Va.
Cope, 37, is a 1998 graduate from Missouri State University with a focus in sales and marketing. Cope said he is the best person for the job because he can relate to other small businesses.
"I understand these businesses live and die by their monthly reports," he said.
Being here just two years, he says he can provide an outside look.
Cope didn't have any specific goals to offer other than increasing the strength of the chamber through membership.
Cope said he was impressed by King's performance.
"I thought he did a good job," he said.
He said he was surprised when he got the phone call last week the job was open.
As to why King left suddenly, DeBrule said it was personal reasons and he moved back to Arizona.
"He just said he had personal reasons," DeBrule said. "There's nothing negative about it."
DeBrule said he was not forced out of the position and had a great working relationship with the board of directors.
She said she looks forward to working with Cope on upcoming projects. His official start date is Wednesday. Oct. 31.
"He's going to have to hit the ground running," DeBrule said.
King did not return messages seeking comment.