By R.G. Wilson, F21025
The president of the United States gives a “State of the Union” address each year, usually in January. Along that line, I believe this is a good time for me to address FMCA members on the “State of the Association.”
As I write this article, the committees of our association just completed 10 days of very successful meetings in Cincinnati. FMCA is a committee-driven, member-owned organization.
The Executive Board consists of the four nationally elected officers “” national president, national senior vice president, national secretary, and national treasurer, along with the immediate past president and the 10 area vice presidents. The board and all of the nine standing committees of FMCA meet in May and November at our home office in Cincinnati. We review operations, transact business, and plan for the future.
While it’s all fresh in my mind, I want to inform you of the state of our association as I see it. During my three years of service as national treasurer, our association’s financial reserves grew by $3 million. The past three years, however, with the sagging economy, it has been a different situation. Some of our revenues have fallen, while our operating costs and member benefits costs continue to rise. This is why it was necessary to ask the FMCA Governing Board to approve a $10 dues increase, the first increase in 23 years. I want to thank the Governing Board for its approval of this dues increase. The money will be used wisely. Current family and associate members will have an opportunity to sign up for multiple years at the old rate between now and March 31, 2004. Additional information about this appears on page 18 in this month’s “Executive Director’s Commentary” column.
During the past two years, family attendance at our conventions has declined. After much study, we believe we have determined various reasons for this, many of them related to economic and world situations outside our control. As a result, Don Moore, F154921, our senior vice president, and I have looked at all convention costs and have made cuts where possible to keep our spending in line with our revenue. During the November meetings the Convention Committee and the Executive Board approved a new convention organization structure for member staff who supervise the contract labor and volunteers at conventions. We are also soliciting more competitive bids for the local services needed at conventions.
It is becoming more difficult to find suitable convention sites and facilities. Part of this problem is the size of the facility required to accommodate our large conventions. The fact that so many states have laws against bringing in out-of-state motorhome dealers and manufacturers is a major problem. Our Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee is working on the latter problem in many states, trying to get this changed.
In addition, we are attempting to hold our conventions in popular destination locations and are returning to the successful locations of the past. We are adding activities and arranging for more headliner entertainers.
The FMCA national office staff received and tallied the “Permanent Convention Site Survey” questionnaire that was included with my column in the November issue of Family Motor Coaching (page 10) and also sent to Governing Board members. On the question “Should FMCA explore finding a permanent location for the summer convention?” 55 percent responded yes. The Long-Range and Development Committee reviewed the results and recommended that we have volunteers and staff work on a feasibility study. This will be a long-range project, and we will move cautiously as we explore propositions that come before us for consideration. We are also looking at the states that have friendly sales laws for bringing in out-of-state dealers and manufacturers for RV shows.
In the past five years we have added some valuable and popular insurance benefits for our members. The MEDEX emergency medical evacuation program and the deductible and co-insurance reimbursement plan have been very valuable to our members. Because of the size of our organization, we were able to negotiate some very good rates for these coverages in the beginning. But as these benefits became known and used by our members, the insurance companies reassessed their positions and drastically increased our renewal premiums. This has had a tremendous impact on our budget and operating statements. The premium cost of our MEDEX policy has tripled; however, we have secured coverage for our members through 2006. We are fortunate to have the cash to enable us to contract further out and to lock in rates before they rise even more.
The premiums on the deductible and co-insurance reimbursement plan increased so much that we had to convert it to accident-and-dental-only coverage, as of January 1, 2004. We are pleased to be able to continue the accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy that we’ve offered for so long.
Considering the fact that insurance coverage is the fastest-rising cost to FMCA and to most other businesses at this time, I believe our Risk Management Committee, under the direction of Judy Allen, F193946, did a superb job in negotiating our insurance contracts.
Our Education Committee, chaired by June Davis, F158928, continues to seek seminar programs and courses to educate our members on RV safety and other items of interest. They are developing courses in computer skills enhancement for members, as well as a program for national directors.
The Long-Range & Development Committee, chaired by Tony Vincent, F161584, did an in-depth analysis of our progress in implementing FMCA’s Strategic Plan. Much has been accomplished in the implementation of this plan, including the rewrite of our Constitution, Bylaws, and Policies and Procedures.
I believe the state of our association is very good. We have a staff of very good employees. They know their jobs and are very capable, courteous, and helpful to the Executive Board and other FMCA committee personnel. I am extremely pleased with the cooperative attitude of the Executive Board. Although we do not always agree, I see a stronger consensus now than at any time since I have been a member. We work hard, but all seem to enjoy representing FMCA and are having fun while taking care of business.
I can see a lot of challenges ahead in maintaining the many good benefits that FMCA offers its members. Operating costs and member benefit costs continue to increase while some of our revenues fall. When I was elected, I promised the Governing Board that I would not let our association operate in a deficit. I have already had to make some hard decisions to fulfill this promise, and I will continue to do what I feel is necessary to keep our association financially healthy and strong and able to fulfill our goals and core values.
I wish all of you a very happy, prosperous, and safe new year.