Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000, Executive Director
On April 2, 2008, FMCA reached a milestone in its history. William and Linda Lancaster of Titusville, Florida, joined FMCA and were assigned membership number F400000 by the FMCA computer. It’s impressive that in the association’s 45-year history, more than 400,000 families have joined FMCA. What is probably even more impressive is that of those 400,000 families, 28 percent still are members of FMCA.
Over the 10 years that I have served as FMCA’s executive director, I have periodically answered members’ questions about the association’s oval-shaped membership identification emblems, also known as “goose eggs.” The plates have long been a part of FMCA’s history. New members of FMCA have been issued various types of coach plates over the years.
In the February 1964 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine, Bob Richter, L1, wrote an article to explain the reasoning behind the issuance of the F number and coach identification plates. He started off by confirming that no one wants to be known as just a number. So, the obvious question was, “Why then, if so many people feel this way, did FMCA also succumb to the trend?”
Here’s part of Bob’s answer: “At FMCA, a great deal of our work is, frankly, shuffling papers . . . A numbering system makes this continuous flow of work much easier, truthfully; F345 is much easier to say than Washington, George H., and if FMCA ever grows in size to ten or twenty thousand members, or to a hundred thousand, we’d have to go back and assign numbers anyway to feed to a computer, in order to continue operating. So we gave in early!”
You might ask, why plates? Why not a decal, or why not just paint a number on the coach? I would like to share some of Bob’s further comments: “The FMCA plates are, unlike a decal or a painted number, attached to a coach, rather than something that becomes a part of it. As a consequence, they can and do remain the property of the FMCA, and our bylaws specifically state that they are to be returned upon the termination of the member’s FMCA membership. It is the intention of the FMCA to control the privilege of displaying these plates strictly, so that the display of them will be meaningful . . . we do mean that circulation of the plates will be made only to those who qualify for them, and that return of them upon the termination of full membership will be required. This makes for a meaningful system, and for displaying them with pride on your coach.”
Obviously, over time the practice of returning the coach plates to the national headquarters became too cumbersome and was difficult to enforce. Today when motorhomers cease to be members of FMCA, they keep their identification plates. If they rejoin at a later date, they can use them again. Membership numbers are never reassigned to someone else.
Bob also highlighted one of the real benefits of displaying the goose eggs: recruitment of new members. “Another advantage of the plates is that they serve as an advertisement to the public of the existence of FMCA. While the organization is so new, this is particularly important to FMCA; as time passes, however, the plates will continue to serve as a reminder to the public.”
That philosophy has not changed. Displaying the goose egg is very important to FMCA. Quite often it is the tool that initiates a conversation about the merits of being a member of FMCA. Then, sharing a copy of Family Motor Coaching magazine with the motorhomer you meet increases his or her desire to become a member.
In 1973, when FMCA celebrated its 10th anniversary, the cast aluminum identification plate changed to a vinyl version. The November/December 1972 issue of Family Motor Coaching magazine included a short note titled “New Tags To Be Issued.” It stated, “Beginning with member F10000, vinyl ‘goose eggs’ will be issued. Reason “” like everything else “” high cost of material. Not wanting to raise initiation fee or members’ renewal rate from the present $15 per year, decision favored weatherproof vinyl in same form. However, if members desire metal plaques, these will be provided by special order. Cost $5.50 per pair.”
Also in 1973, the true family concept entered into the identification plate. As stated in the July/August 1973 issue of FMC magazine, “The Board of Directors accepted the recommendation that provision be made for a ‘second generation’ coach identification plate and number assignment which would make it possible for sons or daughters from family units previously members to be assigned the same number as the original family number with the addition of an S in the case of a son and a D in the case of a daughter.”
The current FMCA Bylaws expands upon this action by indicating, “FMCA shall, upon request, issue the original F number to sons, daughters, grandchildren, or parents of active or former members with the addition of an ‘S,’ ‘D,’ ‘G,’ or ‘P,’ respectively, centered below the number on the emblem.”
Plexiglas plates were introduced in June 1982. An explanation in that issue of FMC magazine noted, “The new membership plates are injection molded out of clear acrylic (Plexiglas), which is an excellent plastic for outdoor applications. The membership number is engraved on the reverse side of the emblems and then decorated by hot stamping the black, and spraying white and then silver.” The new plates sold for $17 per pair, the same as the old metal plates.
Yet another type of material, Lexan, began to be used in late 1994. The December issue of Family Motor Coaching that year contained an article in which national president Jim Ballentine, L8780, introduced the plate. “Another new item in the month of December will be our new style goose egg. New members joining the association will be receiving a membership plate made of Lexan, which will have the same appearance as our original aluminum plates. The only difference will be that the letters and numerals will be white and will have much better visibility. Our supplier of the smooth acrylic plates advised us in September that our mold was worn out and that a new one would have to be made at a cost of $30,000. They also advised us that a 40 percent price increase would be forthcoming in November. Needless to say, that prompted some investigation into another source for plates.”
The FMCA identification number and the identification plates, or goose eggs, are important “” an integral part of the Family Motor Coach Association. And, like many other decisions made in the beginning when FMCA was formed, they have served the test of time and proved to be beneficial to the association.
Please display your FMCA plates with pride.