Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Family Motor Coach Association is made up of two distinct types of members. Most of us are quite familiar with family membership, since this is the category we fall into as motorhome owners. There are several subgroups within this category, such as full family, life, lifetime, and associate memberships. These are all members who currently own motorhomes or at one time were full family members but no longer own motorhomes. The governance of FMCA is handled by those who own motorhomes.
Another category of FMCA membership is commercial. In January 1964 as the association was just getting started, the decision was made to open membership in FMCA to include recreation vehicle manufacturers and accessory suppliers, as well as campgrounds and other businesses that cater to the motorhome owner. To me, this has always been an interesting aspect of FMCA, since it means the association encompasses two interdependent groups that need to work together. They support each other by communicating their ideas and desires. This is where FMCA works behind the scenes to keep the family stable. When there are disagreements that cannot be amicably dealt with by the different categories of members, FMCA tries to intervene and assist in reaching an appropriate resolution. Fortunately, this does not regularly occur, but it is available to members when they reach an impasse in their dealings.
Commercial members join FMCA for the same reason that you and I become family members “” they want to be part of the association and participate in the events and relationships that are available through affiliation. Exhibitors at FMCA International Conventions must be FMCA commercial members. Commercial members are listed in the FMCA Business Directory, printed in the January and June editions of Family Motor Coaching magazine and accessible online at FMCA.com. The Business Directory categorizes commercial members into several subgroups: Campgrounds; Motor Coach Dealers; RV Repair Service Major & Minor; Custom Coach Converters; Motor Coach Manufacturers; and Services, Coach Components & Accessories. This last category is further divided into more than 100 subcategories under which specific products and services can be found (i.e. batteries, leveling systems, and window coverings). In many cases FMCA commercial members offer discounts to FMCA family members. I encourage you to look for the commercial member goose-egg logo when you are shopping for products and services to augment your motorhome lifestyle.
Although the governance of FMCA falls on the family side, the association’s commercial members also have a voice in association leadership. They elect members from within their ranks to serve on the Commercial Council, a body of commercial members that represents this important part of the FMCA membership. Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of conventions and commercial services, works very closely with the Commercial Council. I have asked him to further explain the workings of the Commercial Council to help you understand the significant part it plays in the success of FMCA.
Setting The Standard For Fun And Fellowship
By Jerry Yeatts
Director, Conventions and Commercial Services
Four large binders rest in a file drawer in FMCA’s convention department. Inside these binders is the history of the Commercial Council, from 1977 when commercial members traveled to FMCA headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, to draw for exhibit space for a future convention, to the minutes of the most recently convened Commercial Council meeting in Perry, Georgia, this past March. In between the first and last pages of these binders is a fascinating look at how far FMCA has come with our commercial membership, while remaining relatively unchanged. Of course, the roots of the Commercial Council date back even further. FMCA’s Manufacturer’s Advisory Board held its first meeting on January 15, 1966. Their second meeting was held on April 15, 1966, when they became known as the Industry Advisory Council.
The Commercial Council as we know it today was created through an FMCA Bylaw adopted on July 21, 1980. Each Commercial Council meeting opens with a statement: “The primary purpose of the FMCA Commercial Council is to confer on and discuss matters of mutual interest and concern, both to the motor coach industry and FMCA.” This statement is part of the objectives outlined in the Bylaws.
One of the duties of the Commercial Council in the early 1980s was to help select future convention sites. Some of the early minutes from council meetings expressed concerns about closed markets and restrictive laws in certain states (still a problem today); East Coast versus West Coast convention locations (still a topic of discussion today with the Commercial Council); adequate space for exhibitor live-in, displays, and service (other issues that continue to be addressed by today’s Commercial Council). The minutes of the March 29, 1984, Commercial Council meeting suggested that “the most constructive thing that the council could give FMCA is a list of requirements that they felt must be satisfied, letting FMCA know the absolute minimum services acceptable in order for companies to continue to participate at conventions.”
The FMCA Commercial Council of the early 1980s created the standards for today’s convention exhibitor. Exhibit-space drawing procedures; new and used equipment regulations; setup times; height requirements for exhibit spaces; sales hours for displays; coach wash capabilities; service hours; and use of generators were authored by FMCA’s Commercial Council. Many of these standards are still in place today.
Today’s Commercial Council members are no different from the pioneers who launched this important body 25 years ago. The convention-related issues they encounter remain the same: logistics in providing service for convention attendees, such as parking for service vehicles and challenges posed by crossing busy streets in golf carts used by service technicians; sales restrictions; dealing with the strains of setup hours; security in exhibit spaces; weather conditions; violations for exhibitors closing early; family members eager to enter the exhibits prior to the official opening of the display areas. Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Commercial Council of today is an experienced, energetic, enthusiastic, and talented group of individuals representing some of the finest companies in the recreation vehicle industry. The duties they perform for the council and for FMCA are above and beyond their normal day-to-day responsibilities. It may seem as though many of the Commercial Council members spend more time with FMCA-related events than they do with their own families, being on the road for a large percentage of the year. They know how to implement successful conventions and rallies. They know how to reach legislators, when necessary, to make an event successful for FMCA’s family members. They truly are the movers and shakers in the industry.
The next time you attend an FMCA international convention, take a good look at how the motorhomes are displayed and the organization of the indoor exhibits. Stop by the service center to schedule an appointment for your coach. Study the improvements to motorhome quality over the past few years. Experience a seminar about safe driving, take a class for copilots, or attend a roundtable discussion about satellites or tires. If these activities have made a difference in the enjoyment you have received from motorhoming, then seek out a Commercial Council member, whose name tag will have a white Commercial Council ribbon attached to it. Thank him or her for setting the standard for fun and fellowship.