Written by Joseph Porcari | Photography by Dan Cutrona
Meet 7 individuals who are bringing new ideas to Chatham.
Executive Director of Chatham Chamber of Commerce
A typical day for Mary Cavanaugh consists of fulfilling the needs of tourists, planning community events with town merchants, managing the annual budget and explaining town initiatives, such as the pending sewer project, to residents and business owners. But she admits, she could never do her job alone. “I believe that more can be accomplished when people work together,” says Cavanaugh, who describes her leadership style as collaborative and team-oriented. Named executive director in October 2018, Cavanaugh promotes Chatham as a destination by working with the interests of the business community, year-round residents and seasonal visitors.
Cavanaugh grew up spending summers in Chatham and moved to town full time with her husband and two daughters in 2010 after living in New Hampshire and Chicago, Illinois. Her background in sales, marketing, fundraising and communication—in both private and nonprofit sectors—has prepared her for the high-profile executive director role. She worked for Cape Cod Community College, where she helped complete two multi-million-dollar capital campaigns. She has also contributed her time to the Chatham Food Pantry, WE CAN, Philanthropy Partners of the Cape and Islands and Chatham Orpheum Theater.
This year, Cavanaugh helped spearhead “Downtown Derby,” a new event in May that coincides with the Kentucky Derby. Held in Kate Gould Park, the special event featured a fashion show, Derby hats and gift certificates. In lieu of actual horses, there will be an oversized board game called a “seahorse race,” and students from Cape Cod Regional Technical High School will handcraft the essential game pieces—three-foot-high sea creatures. Although she is only a few months into her new job, Cavanaugh appears to be well on her way to fulfilling a goal: “I was looking for a leadership role to promote the town which is near and dear to my heart.”
and Fred Bierwirth
Founders of Chatham Works
Lindsay and Fred Bierwirth believe in the future of Chatham as a year-round community and are committed to making it a reality. In late spring, the entrepreneurs plan to open Chatham Works—a combination fitness center and shared workspace located next door to Chatham Perk. The building is 10,000 square feet, three stories high and topped with an atrium that fills the space with natural light.
For the fitness center, the Bierwirths envision an encouraging environment centered on health and wellness, or in their own words “a gym for normal people.” The layout incorporates areas for cardio equipment and weights as well as room for group exercise classes and a separate spin studio. The shared office space, part of a growing national trend, will be available for rent by the day, week, month or year, and will offer flexibility for small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs and remote workers. The business concept dovetails perfectly with Lindsay’s efforts as a founding member of the Chatham 365 Task Force to create a viable year-round community with more opportunities for young families.
The premature loss of their parents over the span of only a few years prompted the Bierwirths to reassess their priorities and focus more on health and wellness. After living in Hingham for several years, they relocated to Chatham—Lindsay’s hometown—to raise their two young daughters. The idea for Chatham Works came about serendipitously. While living on the South Shore, Fred took a particular interest in a strip mall in Cohasset. There were two businesses just a few stores apart—a coworking space and a gym—and he was struck by the potential synergy of a business combination. It wasn’t long before he and Lindsay hatched the idea for Chatham Works and found the right location in North Chatham.
The Bierwirths are a dynamic couple with complementary styles. Fred, who holds an MBA from Babson, likes to research an issue (he wrote a lengthy business plan for Chatham Works), while Lindsay likes to jump into action. “Fred is ‘think’ and I am ‘blink,’ says Lindsay. “He is my rock and I am his balloon.”
Managing Director of Chatham Bars Inn
Twenty-eight years ago, Gary Thulander worked at Chatham Bars Inn as a resident manager, then other career opportunities took him off Cape. Today, he is happy to have come full circle as the new managing director of Chatham Bars Inn. With his wife, children and grandchildren all living on the Cape, Thulander feels at home. “I’m where I want to be,” he says.
The Cape is where Thulander’s career in the hospitality industry began. On summer breaks during college, he worked as a dishwasher and busboy at restaurants in Wellfleet. The energy and team environment of the industry inspired him to switch his major from economics to hotel management at the University of New Hampshire.
With a management career spanning three decades at luxury resorts ranging from the Caribbean to New England, Thulander is known for his holistic approach to managing high-profile properties. At his previous position as general manager of the historic Woodstock Inn in Vermont, he directed a major renovation of the resort and was lauded for his leadership and community activism as well as his commitment to the economic sustainability of the region.
Thulander has similar plans for his new job. He is determined to partner with downtown businesses and the local community to make not only CBI a year-round resort, dining and shopping destination, but the entire town as well.
He loves the classic small-town character of Chatham and its Main Street, ocean setting, cool breezes and the history of Chatham Bars Inn—first built as a hunting lodge by Charles Hardy in 1914. A major renovation of the property is scheduled, but Thulander promises it will be informed by a sense of place: “It will polish what we have.” He also intends to upgrade the spa and wellness facility at the inn, hoping to make it a destination in and of itself.
During his career, Thulander has preferred working for independent resorts over urban hotels: “It’s more than four walls,” he says. “People come to a resort to celebrate and enjoy—it’s a true hospitality experience.”
Charles and Christina Caron
Owners of Impeccable Clean and Founders of Entrepreneurial Networking Group of Cape Cod
Christina and Charles Caron’s tagline at their business Impeccable Clean is “hard work, determination and dedication to detail.” The slogan also perfectly describes the dynamic twentysomething couple.
Sweethearts since eighth grade and married two years ago, the couple started their careers as entrepreneurs after graduating from Chatham High School in 2010. When the opportunity presented itself to start a residential and commercial cleaning business, the Carons wasted no time and went full-speed ahead. To cover startup costs, they delivered local newspapers from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. seven days a week. “It helped us develop a strong work ethic,” says Charles, who launched Impeccable Clean with Christina
A year later in 2014, the enterprising spirits created the Entrepreneurial Networking Group of Cape Cod to help local business owners cultivate relationships and raise awareness about local charities, nonprofit organizations and volunteer opportunities. Among their many efforts, the group has spearheaded food and toy drives for the Family Pantry of Cape Cod and volunteer drives for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod and the Islands.
The “freestyle networking” events are held at local restaurants, such as Bluefins Sushi & Sake Bar in Chatham and the Cleat & Anchor in Dennis Port, and attract as many as 100 attendees. Like many Cape Codders, Charles works multiple jobs. He is also a real estate agent with Robert Paul Properties in Chatham, where he specializes in luxury and waterfront properties. Overall, he believes that local business owners and entrepreneurs must work together to create a year-round economy and prosperous future on the Cape. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce reports a high number of entrepreneurs on the Cape; in fact, the number of sole proprietor businesses on the peninsula is double the national per capita average. So it’s no surprise that at a recent networking event at the West End in Hyannis, everyone from bankers and realtors to blacksmiths and edible garden landscapers packed the house. “We encourage people to get out of their box and connect the dots,” says Charles.
Owner of Chatham Clothing Bar, Chatham Clothing Company and Chatham T Kids
Chatham clothing retailer Sandra Wycoff has earned a reputation for bringing the community together. Not only does she own three stores on Main Street, but she also helps raise money for local charities and has served on many boards and committees.
As a college student, Wycoff fell in love with the Cape. During her summer breaks, she lived with her aunt and worked at Thompson’s Clam Bar and the Christopher Ryder House. She was especially attracted to Chatham because of its charming Main Street and aura of small-town America.
Since opening the first T-shirt store in Chatham in 1978, Wycoff has built a small retail empire with three successful clothing stores: Chatham Clothing Bar, Chatham Chatham Clothing Company and Chatham T Kids. She also owns a fourth store, the Woolen Mill, which is located in her hometown of Meadville, Pennsylvania.
Wycoff takes a hands-on approach to her businesses, which keeps her busy, but she also finds time to give back. Every year, she donates one of her retail spaces for Chatham First Night’s seasonal headquarters, and she is committed to local charities like Monomoy Community Services, which provides affordable childcare for working families. Wycoff also sits on the board of the Eldredge Garage Property Planning Committee because she believes parking is one of the town’s biggest challenges.
Wycoff’s passion for making Chatham a better place is rooted in gratitude: “Chatham has been very good to me,” says Wycoff. One of her many admirers is Ginny Nickerson, who has served with Wycoff on numerous boards and committees. “She is a joy to work with and an inspiration for doing whatever possible to benefit the town.”