City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Inspirational Men of Idaho

What drives a high-ranking bank executive? A local media legend? A young furniture store owner?

Ask someone what makes the Treasure Valley a special place, and you’ll likely get a range of answers — many of them the same. The foothills. The Greenbelt. The river. Some might even cite the neighborliness of the residents or small-town feel despite tremendous growth.

And yet, as with any city that shares the special size that Boise and Meridian do — not too big, not too small — it is the people who keep the City of Trees verdant, lush and so appealing. From high-ranking bank executives like Scott Schlange to local heroes such as Tom Scott to up-and-coming business owners including Chancellor Werner, hard-working residents of every stripe keep the city operational — and, yes, kind too.

After profiling a series of inspirational female leaders for the May issues of Boise Lifestyle and Meridian Lifestyle, we turned our focus to some of the gentlemen who serve as the backbone for the valley — and also serve as inspirational leaders for their peers and future leaders.

Here are just a few of the valley’s up-and-coming key players.

Tom Scott

Tom Scott Agency

For the past 23 years, Tom Scott has captained the Tom Scott Agency, a shop that helps media companies of all shapes and sizes with their advertising, web design and public relations efforts. But despite that impressive tenure, most Boise residents know Scott as the voice of sports coverage in Boise for KTVB Sports.

“Staying involved with providing sports segments keeps me engaged,” the revered color commentary for Boise State University football said. “My constant task is keeping up with technology and the changing world of advertising.”

That’s a tall order for anyone, even a decorated TV and radio vet who gradated with a BA in Communications and Media Studies from Boise State University in 1975. But even after decades of working in media, Scott believes personal care for clients and attention to detail continue to be the winning formula.

“Owners of small businesses in Boise are very hands-on, so they have to handle everything under their own roofs and often don’t have time to deal with advertising and marketing,” he noted. “That’s where my agency comes in: We essentially become part of their companies.”

Scott points to his agency’s recent collaboration with Optimist Youth Football & Cheer as an especially fulfilling example of his work.

“We changed their messaging and branding to focus on all the good things about youth football, like team-building,” he said. “The result was incredible forward movement.”

As someone who has witnessed Boise’s growth firsthand, Scott said his agency has changed organically along with the city. What hasn’t changed, regardless of population increase and technology, is his approach to not just business but people in general. He says neighborliness continues to stand as Boise’s strongest shared community trait.

“Calling people by name. Being ‘Boise kind.’ That’s helped me over the years,” noted the eternally optimistic Scott.

Even for a veteran professional with decades of experience, Scott added: “First impressions are really important.”

Chancellor Werner

Bassett Furniture

Ancestry tests may be all the rage these days, but Chancellor Werner already knows what’s in his DNA: how to craft furniture. Working for a company whose lineage of furniture makers traces back to at least 1902, Bassett and Werner are as natural a match as a chair and a table.

“I’m a third-generation furniture owner, so it’s in my blood. My grandma owned a really small furniture store, and they had to work really hard,” he recalled. “I lived in the same building as the furniture store we had, running up and down the stairs in my diapers.”

Starting with Bassett Furniture Industries, Inc. in May 2011 in Salt Lake City, he’s worked up the ranks from the warehouse to Customer Service Manager to Sales Manager to Operations Manager to, as of September 2018, Store Manager.

Devoting so many years to Bassett, it’s no surprise that Werner takes such pride in his roles with the company — especially his latest one. He also found an opening in which he could help people: While working at the SLC location, he often encountered customers who would drive up to five hours from Idaho because they trusted Bassett, which at that point didn’t have a Boise location.

With interactions with those devoted clients still in mind, Werner kept community at the forefront of his mind — and his store’s operations — when he opened the Meridian location with his wife four years ago.

“When the opportunity came for us, future generations and the community, we couldn’t pass it up,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into it — but a lot of pride too.”

All the while, he continues keeping his parents’ model and the hard work they put into their business at the forefront of his mind.

“They wanted the best for their family and envisioned generations of our family being successful,” he reflected. “I want to continue that legacy.”

Chris Dwyer 

Poss Architecture + Planning and Interior Design

It’s always a testament to an employee’s success in achieving strong results, and diligent work ethic, when a company hires them back years after they’ve parted ways with the company. It’s an even more decorated accomplishment when that rehiring comes with a superior title.

Seven years elapsed between the time Chris Dwyer left Poss Architecture + Planning in Aspen, Colorado, as a Project Manager/Designer/Job Captain/Associate — and when the company brought him back as Project Manager and Senior Associate for its Boise office in February 2022.

Having worked as a Project Architect at multiple firms in Boise in between those two stints, Dwyer said returning to Poss was like slipping back into an old glove. Even greater was the sense of satisfaction that came with opening the new location in his Boise hometown for an out-of-state company that he also held dear.

It’s no understatement to say that Dwyer feels like he’s giving back to Boise by leading a cutting-edge architectural firm here.

“At Bishop Kelly [High School], when we were freshmen, we had to present in front of our peers and our professors,” he said. “We had to do that so often over five years that it became second nature — which is the ultimate goal, because you’re always going to have to be presenting to somebody: a client, an engineer, a building official. You’re always having to present your ideas verbally as well as graphically.”

The challenges Dwyer overcame in opening Poss’ Boise office included securing space in high-demand downtown Boise and adding a storefront presence to add a retail component, he said.

Equally important was ensuring that the office had “an inclusive vibe, which allows us all to feel comfortable with each other and exchange our thoughts about design concepts,” Dwyer added. “I want to make sure that, even if we’re on deadlines, we can work together in a professional and collaborative manner.”

Scott Schlange

KeyBank

As the Idaho Market President of KeyBank, Scott Schlange holds a hefty title with one of the biggest banks in the United States. But Schlange, who leads KeyBank’s Commercial Banking efforts in the state, prefers to consider himself a “shepherd” between the institution and the Treasure Valley.

“My role is to keep my eyes focused on Ada County to make sure we’re helping the right organizations, keeping in touch with our retail teams and stay connected with community stakeholders,” he said.

Schlange collaborates with the Boise Chamber of Commerce, Idaho Technology Council, Northwest

Association for Blind Athletes and Idaho Business for Education — to name just a few.

Indeed, a central focus of Schlange’s role at KeyBank is to work with clients to optimize their cash management, equipment finance, and other banking products and services. But as someone who has volunteered his entire life — from teaching literacy in prisons to serving on the Board of Advisors for the Salvation Army — Schlange says philanthropic efforts molded his career.

“From a values standpoint, listening, compassion, action and inspiration are things I’m trying to be good at,” the father of three humbly stated.

He noted that, over the past three to four years, KeyBank’s contributions to impact grants have increased by 25 percent.

Fortunately for Schlange, he doesn’t have to pick between his commercial dealigns and philanthropic endeavors: His duties include teaming closely with KeyBank’s Corporate Responsibility Group to work on spending and strategy for outreach efforts.

Even in new capacity as Idaho Market President, a title he assumed in October, Schlange strives to make sure employees of the corporate behemoth feel appreciated on a human level.

“In the president role, I’ve been able to meet with more employees” than in his previous five years at KeyBank, he said. “On work anniversaries, I make a concerted effort to call and thank them — whether it’s someone who’s been here 40 years or six months.”

Donell McNeal

Kidokinetics

Donell McNeal knows a thing or two about education. After serving as Principal for the West Ada School District in Meridian for eight years and Assistant Principal for Meridian School District #2 for four years prior to that, McNeal — a father of three — is devoted to enriching the lives of children in his community.

He also knows a thing or two about sports: football in particular. As a former football player for Idaho State University, McNeal also sees values like teamwork, tenacity, celebrating victory and coping with loss as fundamental to childhood development. He also acquired a master’s degree from the same school, in Counselor Education/School Counseling and Guidance Services, in 2004.

So it was a shoe-in — or a boot-in, to continue the football metaphor — when the opportunity arose in November for McNeal to begin leading a franchise for Kidokinetics, a sports fitness program for kids of all ages.

“My goal is to help kids who are young — typically between 12 months to 6 years to have fun — play confidently and leveraging their skills with learning and being supportive,” he said. “And I always wanted to have my own franchise and feel like I was leading my own ship.”

As for why he decided to leverage his own experience working in education to Kidokinetics, he candidly stated: “I resigned at end of the year [from West Ada] to transition into social entrepreneurship, and coupling sports with my passion and my purpose of inspiring and motivating young people,” shared McNeal, who lives with his wife in Boise.

More specifically, McNeal is planning to introduce Kidokinetics to daycares, physical-education programs, and even camps and birthday parties, as a way to sway kids into putting technology away and drawing our their active spirit.

“I am manifesting my vision and the vision inside of me that I find when I wake up every day, to partner with families in the community and help the kids,” he said.

  • Photo: @cottoncashmerecathair