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 Buffalo, New York, this past July.
It is my pleasure to provide an update regarding noteworthy activities within the Family Motor Coach Association. Our membership continues to grow. As of June 30, 2003, FMCA’s active membership count was 127,079 families, and the last membership number assigned was F331111.
In my report last year, I indicated that the industry had experienced a turnaround in 2002, and that overall sales were up and dealer inventories were increasing, providing the customer with a better selection. While this was true for the RV industry, economic uncertainties remained, and magazine advertising in general had not recovered from the slump that began in the year 2000. Unfortunately, Family Motor Coaching continues to experience lower advertising revenues. The RV industry appears to be gradually rebounding from the significant downturn that started in 2000 and worsened in 2001, but conditions apparently have not improved to a point where manufacturers and dealers are returning to previous levels of expenditures.
Fortunately, expenditures in many areas at FMCA have been reduced at the same time that advertising revenues have been decreasing. As indicated in the fiscal year 2002 financial reports, FMCA recorded a surplus from operations, and were it not for the continuing stock market problems and their effect on FMCA investments, the association would have been able to show a better, and profitable, bottom line in 2002.
The proposed Constitution was published along with a ballot for members in the November 2002 edition of Family Motor Coaching magazine. Voting results were tallied and announced on January 24. There were 914 ballots cast for approval and 50 ballots cast against approval. Revisions to the Constitution require the approval of a majority of the ballots cast. The revised FMCA Constitution passed with a 95 percent approval rate.
The proposed Bylaws were mailed along with a ballot to national directors on January 30. Voting results were tallied on March 11. There were 303 ballots cast for approval and 24 ballots cast against approval. Revisions to the Bylaws require the approval of 65 percent of the ballots cast, and the revised FMCA Bylaws passed with a 93 percent approval rate.
The proposed Policies and Procedures were mailed on April 17 to the national directors and alternate national directors. Additional copies were sent to newly elected national directors and alternates as well as to temporary delegates as they were identified to the Chapter Services Department staff.
I want to personally express thanks to the Constitution and Bylaws/Policy and Procedure Committee members who have worked with the staff in the monumental effort that has gone into the Policies and Procedures project. I am pleased that we were able to meet the deadline established to provide the Governing Board adequate time to review the proposed Policies and Procedures prior to the meeting in Buffalo. (During the meeting the Governing Board adopted all 51 of the new Policies and Procedures, which will be added to the Member And Volunteer Handbook.)
One of the best recruitment tools the association has had over the years is word of mouth, as FMCA members tell other motorhome owners about the association. In recognition of that, and to celebrate the association’s 40th anniversary in 2003, we announced FMCA’s 40th Anniversary Membership Recruitment Contest in the September 2002 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine.
For each new paid FMCA family membership that was sold or arranged by a recruiting family member between August 15, 2002, and June 30, 2003, the recruiting family member received one entry into that portion of the contest. There was no limit to the number of entries a recruiting family member could earn. We wound up with 4,345 qualified entries in the recruiting family member contest. The grand prize, a 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser, was accompanied by a lube pump donated by Remco Manufacturing, C1590, and a towing package donated by Blue Ox, C2903. Also awarded were three second-place prizes of $1,000 cash and six third-place prizes of 14-karat-gold motorhome charms.
Each new family member who joined FMCA as a paid member between August 15, 2002, and June 30, 2003, was entered in the new family member contest. A total of 10,466 new family members joined as paid members of FMCA during the qualifying period. The first winning entry receives the choice of a 41-day Alaska caravan for two in 2004 or a post-Mardi Gras 2004 Caribbean cruise for two from Creative World Rallies & Caravans Inc., C1350. The second winning entry receives the remaining prize.
In accordance with the contest rules, members entered in these contests did not need to be present to win. (For a list of the contest winners, turn to page 8 of this issue.)
Some FMCA member benefits are comparable to those one might receive through membership in AARP, AAA, or a similar fraternal organization. Several FMCA member benefits are discounted through partnership agreements that FMCA has executed on behalf of the membership to obtain group-discounted rates.
However, three important member benefits do not seem to be well-known or understood by the membership. These are benefits that FMCA has purchased for members, and they also serve as wonderful recruitment tools. I have started to identify these as key benefits. They are MEDEX Plus emergency medical evacuation program; Deductible and Co-insurance Reimbursement Insurance; and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance.
Unfortunately, many members are not aware of these benefits and what they entail. The “Member Benefits Guide,” published in each January issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine and at FMCA.com, contains articles that help to explain these benefits and answer questions.
We recently surveyed 1,000 members who had received or purchased FMCA’s Official North American Road Atlas & Travel Guide to determine their acceptance of the product and whether there was adequate support and interest in an updated atlas. We were very pleased with the high response rate and with the results, which indicated interest in an updated version of the atlas. As a result, the Executive Board authorized the printing of 15,000 copies of the revised atlas.
As of July 1, 2003, FMCA has been awarding a free copy of the revised atlas to each member who recruits another member. Copies of the atlas also are available for sale at FMCA conventions; online at the FMCA Store “” www.fmcastore.com; or by calling (800) 543-3622 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (ask for the FMCA Store). The cost is $14.95 plus $5.95 shipping and handling if applicable. It is anticipated that the 15,000 copies will last through December 2004.
We recently added an online component to Family Motor Coaching magazine’s reader service program. In addition to using the traditional printed response card from the magazine, FMC readers now have online access to the reader service program. Of course, this benefits our advertisers as well, because it expands exposure to their products and services, increases traffic to their Web sites, and allows them the option of receiving leads via e-mail.
We selected MediaBrains to administer the reader service program, effective with the March 2003 issue of the magazine. MediaBrains is one of the leading providers of reader service solutions to the publishing industry. It currently supports more than 200 publications nationwide. A link to the new reader service site appears on FMCA.com.
We experienced an FMCA first in April of 2002, when the first FMCA chapter rally took place at the Round Bottom Road campground in Cincinnati. Since the Governing Board meeting in Hutchinson, Kansas, in October of 2002, two other chapter rallies have been held at the FMCA campground, and two additional chapter rallies are scheduled for later this year. These chapters enjoyed the opportunity to use the campground and visit the FMCA national office facilities. So far it has worked well, and as long as a chapter limits the rally to 20 coaches, we should be able to support such a use.
Newly elected national officers will participate in an orientation program at the FMCA national office August 5 through 7. This program is offered to officers and spouses who have not previously had the opportunity to participate. A considerable amount of information is provided to the attendees, and the goal is for them to become more informed and knowledgeable about the workings of the national office. This is a great help to the staff as well, and improves the level of communication.
The Chapter Services Department staff continues to assist in getting more non-chapter members into chapters. Each area vice president has appointed a chapter membership liaison for his or her respective area. The staff has already begun working with these liaisons to increase chapter membership in each area.
The chapter prize package has been revised. The only item retained from the previous package is the flashlight/lantern. The new logo-imprinted items include a wind chime, two stadium cushions, a 12-pack-size insulated Koozie-brand cooler, a copper one-liter thermos, two copper beverage mugs, two insulated Koozie-brand can holders, and a fleece blanket. We will also continue to include two FMCA atlases in each prize package.
Since the Hutchinson convention this past October, the national office has handled registration for six area rallies and vendor registration for three. During the same period of time, a staff member from the Membership Services Department has worked the FMCA membership booth at five area rallies, and the FMCA merchandise booth was sent to five rallies.
Last October I attended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Stakeholders meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a very interesting experience in that this entity manages only 2 percent of federal lands but experiences 33 percent of the recreational visits. The intent of the meeting was to have recreation stakeholders participate in the development of the Corps of Engineers’ strategic plan. It was a long week, but a very rewarding experience, since the RV industry was well represented by FMCA and Good Sam.
During the second week of June 2003, I attended Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) meetings in Washington, D.C. This included attending a meeting of the Go RVing Committee on Excellence, of which I am a member. The Go RVing 2003 RV Consumer Satisfaction Survey has been completed, and the individual results are being prepared for the manufacturers, dealers, and campgrounds. The Topline Results Report showed minimal improvements within the industry. The consultants, however, did comment that there have been some significant changes in the individual consumer satisfaction reports that will be sent to manufacturers and dealers. The survey results are confidential and are intended to provide information that will help participating manufacturers and dealers improve product quality and service.
In addition to this committee meeting, I was able to attend the Go RVing Committee and the RVIA Public Relations Committee meetings.
I also attended the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) gathering that week, where U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee chairman Richard Pombo presented an address that touched on the topics of access to public lands, opportunities to enhance close-to-home recreation, and reforms to the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. As an ARC board member, I also attended a briefing by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. She recapped the purposes of the Take Pride in America program; outlined the contributions already being made to the program by its more than 100 Charter Partners, which includes FMCA; and discussed next steps.
From June 14 through June 18, I attended the Great North American RV Rally in Louisville, Kentucky, at the request of Eastern Area vice president Skip Skipper, F119793. Skip had volunteers from three chapters manning the FMCA booth, and he and I assisted them. More than 110 new members or reinstatements were recruited by the volunteers during the event.
My wife, Sharon, and I were privileged to be invited to two chapter rallies dedicated to celebrating anniversaries. We took vacation time and spent the weekend of May 15 through 18 with the Cardinal Virginians in Harrisonburg, Virginia, as they celebrated their 10th anniversary. We also spent the weekend of June 19 through 23 with the Ontario Overlanders in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, as they celebrated their 25th anniversary.
Since the Hutchinson convention in October of 2002, Sharon and I have had the opportunity to attend five area rallies and three chapter rallies. During these events Sharon and I are able to meet and spend time with the area and chapter officers and other members. Rally activities also give me time to interact with members, and to discuss their member benefits and listen to their concerns.
The national office staff continues to strive to meet the needs of the ever-growing FMCA membership, including its chapters and area associations, and to support the aims and purposes of the association. I continue to be pleased by the level of dedication and professionalism that the staff exhibits in their day-to-day work.