By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
It is hard to believe my two-year term as FMCA’s national president is already concluding. These last two years have passed so quickly, and I can honestly say I am sad to see them come to an end. I have such fond memories and will always look upon this as a special time. Corbett and I were given the privilege of meeting so many great people at all the various area rallies and international conventions and along the roads heading to and from the events.
The very first area rally I attended after being elected FMCA president was the Midwest Area Rally in Manchester, Iowa, in September 2007. I guess it was only fitting that a Midwest Area Rally would be my last area rally prior to leaving office. We arrived in Albert Lea, Minnesota, on June 17, 2009, and were greeted by Al Talbott, Midwest Area vice president, and his wife, Dory. As usual, they were most gracious hosts, and the rally was enjoyed by all. We were able to start the day with a great breakfast, followed by seminars, tours, and excellent entertainment. You guessed it “” it rained, and we were forced indoors for evening entertainment. It might have been a little warm inside, but it didn’t deter the crowd or the entertainers. Our next and final stop on this wonderful journey will be the international convention in Bowling Green, Ohio, where I go out of office. By the time you read this article, that event will have taken place.
As we head to Bowling Green, it is exciting and yet sad. I had many things I wanted to accomplish for FMCA, but, unfortunately, shortly after my election in August 2007, our national economy began its downward spiral, and the plunge in the recreation vehicle industry wasn’t far behind in 2008. The timing could not have been worse, and we began to feel the effects shortly thereafter. Needless to say, the Executive Board had to divert its attention to exploring ways to adjust FMCA’s operations to fit our rapidly decreasing revenue. As the economy went into a recession, individuals as well as businesses started to re-evaluate expenses, reducing and eliminating where necessary in order to survive. FMCA is financially sound and will remain so with the necessary adjustments we are taking. My primary goal has been to maintain a viable association for its members, and that is what the Executive Board and the staff have worked hard to accomplish this last year. Decisions had to be made where we had to ask the FMCA employees to tighten their belts as we tighten all other aspects of the operation in order to sustain FMCA through this recession.
By the time you read these comments, FMCA’s new president, whose job will become even more demanding, will have been installed. He (or she), along with the newly installed Executive Board, will have many more challenges ahead in the next two years, but with prudent management and sound decisions, we will be fine.
With the downturn in the RV industry, we saw several RV manufacturers close their doors forever and some reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The RV industry of a few years ago is no more; at least it will not be the same for a long time to come. We are getting smarter in what we do, and we are changing the way we do business. Many things we did or provided in the past when magazine advertising income was growing can no longer be supported. We will maintain the core essentials of the association and not lose sight of what attracted us to FMCA in the beginning. It was the opportunity for people with similar interests in motorhomes to gather together, make friends, and share experiences and knowledge about the lifestyle we were beginning to embrace. It wasn’t about free chapter prizes, or recruiting incentives. It was about forming chapters and recruiting others to join us, and developing lasting friendships.
FMCA is a great association and remains true to its members in providing the best RV magazine and continually improving the Web site, with both providing timely information dealing with all aspects of motorhomes and the RV lifestyle. There are also international conventions and area rallies that provide opportunities to attend seminars dealing with miscellaneous topics, technical issues, and all facets of the RV lifestyle. Where else can you find an almost unequaled lineup of new motorhome displays and such a wide variety of vendors with all the things you can imagine that will help you enjoy motorhoming? We have nearly 500 chapters all across the United States and Canada where members can get together on a regular basis to enjoy great friends, food, entertainment, and the sharing of experiences. FMCA also provides a very important support for our members with the Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee, whose members work on any issue dealing with our members’ rights in owning, driving, and parking of their motorhomes. The committee also has worked on tax issues and voting rights and coordinates many major issues with other organizations that promote our lifestyle, such as the Escapees and the Affinity Group.
In closing, I want to thank the members of FMCA’s staff for all their support and loyalty to the organization, and, hopefully, their understanding of the hard decisions that had to be made that affected all our lives this last year. And to all the members who took the time to read my ramblings over the past two years, I hope I have been able to provide some insight into the functions of this great organization and all the volunteers’ efforts that go into making FMCA such a viable family. Thanks for your letters, e-mails, and phone calls where you freely shared your ideas and thoughts with me. I will always treasure the support and encouragement you have given, along with so many wonderful memories. Peace, and may all your travels be safe and trouble-free. Semper Fidelis.