“Callaway Gardens started out as a client of mine through The Chason Group, which is a consulting firm that I started back in August of 2003,” Chason said. “Through various contacts, I was able to work with Callaway Gardens to assist them in the development of a hotel/motel tax that actually helped us promote and build a lodge and spa here at Callaway Gardens. [Currently] I serve as the executive vice president. I’m over the day-to-day operations of both the resort and the gardens. [My role covers] everywhere from the resort side, which includes our overnight accommodations to the gardens portion, which would include ... [Celebrate Spring!] that will be going on in the next five weeks, which is the azalea season here at Callaway Gardens.
“It is very important to point out that I’m just one part of the leadership component at Callaway Gardens. I have a lot of great and talented people, who work with me to accomplish our overall mission, which is to connect man and nature in a way that benefits both,” he said, referring to the 13,000-acre property, which features many amenities, such as the John A. Sibley Horticultural Center, the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, four lodging options, golf courses, nature trails, and the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl that is comprised of more than 3,400 hybrid azaleas. “At the height of our different seasons, we may have 900 team members and then in our slower seasons, we typically have around 550 to 600 team members.”
Chason’s work at Callaway Gardens was recognized in the March edition of Georgia Trend. Profiled in Patty Rasmussen’s article titled “Connecting Man and Nature,” he was featured for the magazine’s “Power Players” spotlight.
“I’m very humbled and honored that Georgia Trend would select me for the article,” Chason said. “I believe that the Georgia Trend magazine is one of the leading business magazines in the Southeast, and it has grown over its tenure. I’ve known several of its editors through different associations that I’ve had with them. I just have a lot of respect for the organization and the magazine.”
In addition to working with a large number of personnel, Chason said he has learned a tremendous amount about the hotel and gardening business since joining Callaway Gardens. Meeting these new challenges is rewarding for Chason, who continues to draw from his previous business experience.
“When I was growing up, I worked with my father building golf courses and working on grass farms in deep south Georgia,” Chason said. “My father and my mother instilled in me a great work ethic and also the ability to work with all types of people from diverse backgrounds.
“I give them a tremendous amount of credit for my success in my career,” he said, adding he also is applying skills he acquired from his earlier Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce position. “[At the Cartersville chamber, I learned] the ability to develop great teams, the ability to listen and the ability to tackle tough issues. In my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great leaders and spend time with great leaders from the business and government communities and that has included Lindsay Thomas — former Congressman from Georgia’s 1st district on the Savannah coast that was president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce when I was there — to Edward Callaway, who is now the chairman and CEO of Callaway Gardens. Watching these individuals work and lead organizations has just been a tremendous benefit to me.”
Even though Chason’s business interests are primarily focused on Pine Mountain’s Callaway Gardens, he still considers Bartow County home. Along with residing in Cartersville, Chason serves on the Cartersville School Board and he and his wife, Lynne, attend Sam Jones Memorial United Methodist Church.
For Cartersville School Superintendent Howard Hinesley, Chason’s commitment to Cartersville and its youth is steadfast.
“He’s an excellent school board member,” Hinesley said. “And he provides a number of years of experience in the business world and as such he has always looked at putting the students first and also being concerned that we did everything we could to make sure during these difficult financial times that students were first and that we did things the right way in trying to address the obvious challenges we had in making reductions in our budget.
“He’s extremely hardworking and thorough. He does his homework and asks good questions and then follows up. He’s prepared at all the meetings. In my experience, he calls up and gets some information ahead to make sure that he knows what the issues are and what all the potential blind spots are. He’s always been one to say, ‘What impact will this have on the students, and then what impact will this have on our employees? One of the things that I have a great deal of respect [for] him is that he really believes that it’s important to be transparent — let people know what it is you’re doing and why you’re doing it. ... and I see that as extremely positive when you’re working for the public.”