Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Editor’s note: Mr. Eversmann presented the following report to the FMCA Governing Board during its meeting in Hutchinson, Kansas, this past October.
I would like to provide you a summary of the significant things that have been happening within the Family Motor Coach Association. Our membership continues to grow. As of August 31, 2002, FMCA’s active membership count was 124,677 families, and the last membership number assigned was F316670. I continue to be pleased with the support that the national office staff provides to the membership.
In my report last year, I expressed concern regarding the decline in sales activity in the RV industry. I am happy to report to you that the industry has experienced a turnaround in 2002, and overall sales are up and dealer inventories have increased, providing the customer with a better selection.
While this is true for the RV industry, economic uncertainties remain, and magazine advertising in general has not recovered from the slump that began in the year 2000. Likewise, Family Motor Coaching continues to experience lower advertising revenues. In January 2003, FMCA will begin to offer commercial banner advertising on its Web site. While this certainly will not replace the lost advertising revenue levels to date, we are hopeful that it will provide another source of revenue.
Fortunately, expenditures in many areas have been reduced at the same time that advertising revenues have been decreasing. Were it not for the continuing stock market problems and their effect on FMCA investments, which must be reported on current financial statements, the association would be showing a better and profitable bottom line.
The rewrite of FMCA’s Constitution and Bylaws was a very extensive and laborious undertaking for the committees involved, and also for the national office staff. Many hours have been invested in preparing the proposed Constitution, proposed Bylaws, and related Policies & Procedures. An association bylaws consultant worked with the Long-Range Planning Committee and the Constitution & Bylaws Committee during their workshops and meetings to guide them in the preparation of these documents.
FMCA also used the resources of a consulting firm to conduct an FMCA management review in 2002. On February 18 and 19, two consultants traveled to the FMCA national office to interview members of the staff. Over two days, they interviewed 12 staff members. Telephone interviews with individual members of the Executive Committee took place during the weeks of April 29 and May 6. Each of these interviews was one hour in length. The resulting report was presented to the Executive Committee during its June 2002 meeting in Cincinnati, and the Governing Board received a copy of that report with the Governing Board mailing.
FMCA’s leadership continues to consider ways to attract new members to the association. One of the best recruitment tools the association has had over the years is members telling other motorhome owners about FMCA. In recognition of that, and to celebrate the association’s 40th anniversary in 2003, an ad in the September 2002 edition of Family Motor Coaching magazine announced FMCA’s 40th Anniversary Membership Recruitment Contest. I devoted part of my “Executive Director’s Commentary” column in September to explaining the membership recruitment contest and the companion contest for those new FMCA members who join during the contest dates.
For each new paid FMCA family membership that is sold or arranged by a recruiting family member between August 15, 2002, and June 30, 2003, the recruiting family member will receive one entry into the Recruiting Family Member Contest. There is no limit to the number of entries a recruiting family member may earn. FMCA will randomly draw the winners of the Recruiting Family Member Contest on July 20, 2003, at FMCA’s 70th International Convention in Buffalo, New York. The winning entries receive one of the following:
- Grand Prize — 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser
- Second-Place Prizes — Three $1,000 cash prizes
- Third-Place Prizes — Six 14-karat-gold motorhome charms
Each new family member who joins FMCA as a paid member between August 15, 2002, and June 30, 2003, will be entered into the New Family Member Contest. FMCA will randomly draw the winners of the New Family Member Contest on July 20, 2003, in Buffalo, New York. The first winning entry drawn receives the choice of a Creative World Rallies 41-day Alaska caravan for two in 2004 or a Creative World post-Mardi Gras 2004 Caribbean cruise for two. The second winning entry receives the remaining prize.
Members entered in these contests need not be present to win.
Member Benefits And Support
Family Motor Coach Association has just entered into a partnership agreement with Passport America on behalf of its members. In case you are not familiar with Passport America, this company invented the 50 percent discount camping club in 1992 and has continued to improve on that great concept. Passport America cardholders can stay at nearly 1,000 campgrounds across the United States, Canada, and Mexico at 50 percent off the regular rate.
The Passport America discount RV travel card costs $44 for 12 months. Our agreement with Passport America enables FMCA members to receive an additional three months (an $11 value) when they purchase the one-year program, or an additional six months (a $22 value) if they join for two or three years.
The MEDEX Plus Program (Emergency Medical Assistance Program) continues to be one of our most popular member benefits. Unfortunately, many members are not aware of this benefit and what it entails. In the “Member Benefits Guide,” printed in the January 2002 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine, is an article that will help to explain this benefit and answer questions. Just a reminder: all requests for support under the MEDEX Plus Program must be made in advance, and the arrangements must be made by MEDEX and thus pre-approved.
I hope that by now all of you have had an opportunity to look at the new FMCA Web site. The site was updated on December 1, 2001. I think you will be impressed with its new look and ease of use.
In June 2002, another addition was made to the Web site — the FMCA Store. The FMCA Store also was introduced in the June 2002 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine. The current plan is to run updated merchandise pages in the March, June, September, and December issues of the magazine. My “Executive Director’s Commentary” column in the June issue included details about the new FMCA Store and ordering information. We are using a fulfillment company to package and ship the orders. Of course, we will continue to offer merchandise at FMCA conventions and upon request at area rallies with preregistration figures of 500 or more coaches.
The premiere issue of the quarterly Chapter Services Department newsletter — titled “Keeping in Touch” — was mailed in January 2002 to chapter and area secretaries and has been well received. This is a new communication device that the Chapter Services Department developed, and they have invited the FMCA national secretary to be the host writer for each issue.
I have prepared a new seminar titled “FMCA Chapter Membership.” This seminar discusses the benefits of chapter membership; how to find a chapter that interests you; or, if you are so inclined, how to start a new chapter. This seminar is specifically intended for FMCA non-chapter members. In conjunction with the area vice presidents at area rallies, I have asked the area chapters to send representatives to talk to attendees regarding their chapter in case seminar attendees are interested in joining an existing chapter.
We have instituted a new procedure for area rally registrations. If the area vice president so desires, the national office will place area rally registration information on the FMCA Web site and begin accepting mail and telephone registrations in the same month that the rally listing first appears in the “Association Calendar” on the “International Conventions & Area Rallies” page in FMC magazine. In order to ensure that this information will fit on a single page in the magazine and be easy to reference, we list one rally per area on the page. As soon as the area’s current rally is over, the next year’s rally can be listed, if dates are available. Placing the registration form on the Web site earlier will permit areas to print registration forms that can be distributed up to 12 months in advance if desired.
In October 2001 I participated in the Newly Elected National Officer Orientation Program that was provided to officers and spouses who had not previously had the opportunity to attend. A considerable amount of information was provided to the attendees, and I hope they feel more informed and knowledgeable of the workings of the national office. This is a great help to the staff and improves the level of communication.
We experienced an FMCA “first” in April. Wednesday, April 24, was the official arrival date for participants in the first FMCA chapter rally to take place at the Round Bottom Road campground. Barth International members held their rally in Cincinnati and used the RV sites at FMCA’s Round Bottom Road location as their base. They had 14 coaches in attendance and quite a busy schedule. They thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to use the campground. It seemed to work well, and as long as a chapter limits the rally to 20 coaches, we should be able to support such a use.
In September 2001 and again this September, I was privileged to participate in a discussion group hosted by the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) as they explore the relationship between the existing campground industry and leading consumer organizations to find out whether we are all taking advantage of opportunities, addressing challenges, and working in the most effective way for our common good. The purpose was to spend time discussing opportunities for closer cooperation, and to dialogue a bit on some of the challenges we all are facing. This opportunity was very beneficial and rewarding for all in attendance.
In September 2001 I also attended the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Convention and Exposition. The main reason I attended was to take part in a meeting of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s Go RVing Committee on Excellence, of which I am a member. This meeting was held in conjunction with the RVDA convention. I not only attended my committee meeting, but I was able to attend the Go RVing Committee meeting and the RVDA annual meeting. Both were very informative, and I was pleased with the opportunity to be part of all three of these groups.
On January 30, 2002, FMCA president Jeff Jefcoat and I attended the Canadian Snowbird Association’s eighth annual extravaganza in Lakeland, Florida. We spent the better part of the day there and had lunch with the association’s officers and executive director. We will be establishing some limited relationships with this group to serve our common members and to attract others who may not be aware of FMCA.
Immediately following the convention in Perry, Georgia, in March 2002, I returned to the office to host several representatives from the Campervan Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) — Alan Tesch, national president; Gary Rebgetz, finance director (treasurer); and John Wightman, general manager of Swagman Motorhomes — as they toured our national headquarters. CMCA’s membership is about 13,500 families, and they employ a staff of seven. Their national rallies currently draw about 1,700 motorhomes. They also have about 55 chapters. They were very impressed with the FMCA organization and operation.
At the request of Jeff Jefcoat, on May 16, 2002, I made a trip to the RV/MH Hall of Fame, Museum, and Library in Elkhart, Indiana. I was asked to look at the museum and to evaluate an offer for FMCA to participate in the museum’s acquisition of David Woodworth’s vintage RV collection. I was very impressed with the current museum and the RV/MH Heritage Foundation’s plan for a new $6 million facility to be constructed in the near future. I was also impressed with their plan to purchase the Woodworth collection and the level of visibility that this partnering would provide FMCA.
Don Crawford, Great Lakes Area vice president, arranged for the six national officers who were in attendance at the GLASS Rally to meet with Al Hesselbart, a recognized RV historian associated with the museum, and to visit the facility on Thursday, May 23. I feel that the officers were impressed with the museum and came away with a strong desire for FMCA to support the acquisition of the David Woodworth RV collection.
During its meeting in June, the Executive Committee made a decision to support the acquisition of the Woodworth collection at the level of $10,000 per year over the next 10 years. This partnership will provide considerable visibility and publicity for FMCA as the collection goes on tour and is exhibited at the museum.
On June 10 and 11, 2002, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a meeting of the Go RVing Committee on Excellence. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association has decided to continue the Go RVing program for another three years. The Executive Committee voted in June to continue FMCA’s support of this program at the level of $10,000 per year, as in the past.
In August 2002, Sharon and I attended the National African-American RVers Association’s 10th Annual National Camp Rally in Bethpage, Virginia. NAARVA’s membership encompasses motorhomes as well as towables. However, the majority of the rally attendees were motorhome owners. A significant number of NAARVA members who own motorhomes are FMCA members also. Sharon and I were able to attend all of their events and interact with their national and area officers as well as their general membership. They have a very high regard for FMCA and are proud of their affiliation and our attendance at their event. The rally’s opening night ceremony included comments from those of us representing the RV industry, among them David Humphreys, president, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association; Ronnie Hepp, vice president for administration, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association; Phil Ingrassia, vice president for communications, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association; Linda Profaizer, president, National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds; and David Gorin of David Gorin & Associates, a management consultant for associations, travel, tourism, and recreation.
Since the Redmond, Oregon, meeting in August of 2001, Sharon and I have had the opportunity to attend six area rallies and seven chapter rallies. These events are nice opportunities for Sharon and me to meet and spend time with the area and chapter officers, and also with the many members we fellowship with during rally activities. I am also able to spend a considerable amount of time with members discussing their benefits and listening to their concerns.
The national office continues to grow in its support of the area associations and I am pleased with the professionalism that continues to be exhibited by the staff.