CSU Athletics Hall of Famer Named Man of the YearJuly 27, 2010
By Sherry Atkinson, CSU University Relations
John Kammeyer learned early on that life delivers some hard knocks. When he was 29, his father died of cancer. The following year his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and five years later she faced cancer again, beating the disease both times. “I grew up fast during that time,” he said. That’s when I realized how short life really is and how you have to live every minute … and that’s what we are doing.”
Kammeyer is a self-ascribed, proactive person. He makes things happen. During his years at Charleston Southern his leadership was evident, especially on the basketball court. As captain of the team his junior and senior years, he set a record for assists, and in 1991 was inducted into the Hall of Fame for basketball and baseball. Kammeyer has not forgotten his alma mater. He has been generous in his support of the athletic program at CSU and still attends the games today to cheer on the Bucs.
Shortly after graduating in 1974 Kammeyer went to work at Rug Masters, Inc. He learned all aspects of the job from the ground up and is now president of the company. In 2006 Rug Masters was awarded Oriental Rug Retailer of the Year, the number one retailer in the U.S. “To be successful in business, you’ve got to make it happen,” said Kammeyer. "We have worked very hard at the business.” Kammeyer is serious about working hard. He currently works 75-85 hours a week, and that’s after cutting back.
For the past 23 years he has also been an active member of the Charleston Exchange Club, an all volunteer, national service organization. There are about 1,000 Exchange Clubs in the U.S. of which the Charleston Exchange Club is the largest with 270 members.
Among other endeavors, the Club sponsors the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson, which is a huge undertaking considering all the details involved. According to Kammeyer, who has organized the manpower for the last few years, there is no outsourcing. Everything is done by Charleston Exchange Club members. Kammeyer readily admits that working on the fair is a yearlong function. When asked about the number of hours spent in planning, phone calls, meetings and the like, he shakes his head, “I don’t know how you can calculate it. It’s always on my mind.”
Last October the fair’s 10-day run, with approximately 250,000 people passing through the gates, yielded over a quarter of a million dollars which was donated by the Club to charitable causes; and that was during an economic downturn. “The Exchange Club gives back to the community. We really focus on this area, primarily on the Tricounty area,” said Kammeyer.
At the Exchange Club’s inauguration banquet in June, Kammeyer was presented the Man of the Year Award. He shares that the suspense builds throughout the evening as the award recipient is announced last. Receiving the award is the highest honor, one that prompts a standing ovation even as the name is being called. It recognizes the member for his hard work, increasing member involvement and recruiting new members; he is the member who has made the biggest impact on the Club. And it is quite an honor knowing fellow members choose the winner.
“People who do well in the Exchange Club also do well in life; it carries over,” Kammeyer added. "They’re active in their church, in the community, maybe coaching Little League. It’s about being a good citizen.”