By Jerry Yeatts, F390000
I recently had the opportunity to listen to Jim Carroll, widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading global futurists and an expert regarding trends and innovations. He spoke to attendees of the 2012 Kampgrounds of America (KOA) Convention and Expo in Orlando, Florida. The topic of his keynote speech was change, based on his book The Future Belongs To Those Who Are Fast. As I listened to this inspiring presentation, thoughts about this month’s Executive Director’s Commentary began to form in my mind. KOA just concluded a celebration of 50 years of fun, and this month FMCA embarks on a year of celebrating the association’s golden anniversary.
It is amazing what has been accomplished in the past 50 years. In 1963, the Beatles burst onto the music and pop culture scene. From the time Beatlemania began in earnest in 1963 until the group disbanded in late 1969 or thereabouts, fans accepted and embraced each change in music style. Also in 1963, ZIP codes were implemented in the United States, and AT&T introduced the first touch-tone phones.
Look back 40 years, and one discovers a time that was a little more controversial. The year 1973 brought a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade case, and Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs played a tennis match that became known as the “Battle of the Sexes.” On the technology front, Skylab was first launched, and the Concorde made its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.
Motorola introduced the first mobile phones in 1983. Also that year, Microsoft released Microsoft Word, and collaboration between Philips and Sony resulted in the introduction of compact disc players and discs. Barney Clark, the first person to receive an artificial heart, died in March 1983, 112 days after a historic operation with the Jarvick 7 heart pump. Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to leave the solar system. And last, but certainly not least in 1983, the final hand-cranked telephone system in the United States went out of service as 440 telephone customers in Bryant Pond, Maine, were switched over to direct dial.
It is hard to believe that the World Wide Web was born in 1993. The Pentium microprocessor was introduced by Intel that year, and Microsoft released Windows NT 3.1. Dyson sold the first bagless cyclonic vacuum cleaner. Space Shuttle Endeavor made history by capturing the Hubble space telescope, with repairs being made to the lens that continues to explore the Earth’s beginnings and give us a glimpse at the future.
In 2003, Harley Davidson celebrated 100 years of producing motorcycles. The Concorde, heralded 30 years earlier as the supersonic mode of airliner travel across the Atlantic Ocean, took its last commercial flight. The “Do-Not-Call-Registry” went into effect, blocking 80 percent of telemarketing calls.
Indeed, some pretty incredible changes have taken place over the past 50 years. Most changes started with a vision, a spark, to do something better and different from what we had experienced before. Look at the evolution of the television, going from black-and-white tubes to LED, LCD, and plasma flat screens today. The radio has also evolved, going from broadcasts on AM stations to FM and now satellite radio. Not too long ago, only a privileged few could afford to use a mobile phone, affectionately called a “bag” phone. Today, smartphones proliferate, and not only do they give us an opportunity to speak with each other anywhere we may be in the world, but they also allow us to obtain the latest news and driving directions using the same device.
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) celebrated 100 years of RV travel in 2011. FMCA may be considered a mere youngster compared to the storied history of this treasured lifestyle. Yet, the association holds a distinguished place at the table of the RV industry. From FMCA’s humble beginnings in 1963 with families witnessing a solar eclipse, motorhome owners soon discovered a closer bond of friendship and common interest in this unique lifestyle that still exists today.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch once said, “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”
You may ask why I am bringing up speeches and quotes by individuals labeled as futurists. Bigger is not always considered better.
While shopping at a big-box store may save you a few dollars on your purchase, the one element that often seems to be absent is the personal attention — the connection the customer has with the store and the sales experience. I have personally walked the aisles of a big-box store looking for someone to help me with a purchase only to discover that a.) no one is to be found; b.) if I do find someone to help, the person has no knowledge of the product; or c.) the sales associate is too busy talking with his or her fellow employees to lend a helping hand.
Conversely, when I visit a “local” store, I generally am greeted with a smile and asked how I may be assisted. When purchasing a pair of athletic shoes, I can be fitted by someone who knows how to measure my foot and may know the shoe that will best perform for my activity. I may exit the store a few dollars lighter in the wallet, but I leave satisfied that I made the correct choice. It is the perceived value that truly counts.
Change can be a little intimidating, but it can also be exciting if we choose to embrace it. In 1980, the Sony Walkman changed the music listening habits of Americans by allowing people to carry music with them and enjoy it via lightweight headphones. Walkman still maintains its role in popular culture today, although diminished because of the large number of competitors in mobile audio devices.
Family Motor Coach Association has maintained its success and credibility over the past 50 years by being the “local store,” providing the excellent customer service and the knowledge of the product. Members calling the FMCA national office will rarely receive a recording with an array of menu options in order to reach the appropriate person. More often than not, a live operator greets callers. Paralleling the success of Sony promoting freedom and portability, members enrolled in the FMCA mail forwarding service continue to expect to have their mail handled personally by a dedicated staff of FMCA employees. And, yes, although RVs are decked out with the latest technologies today — satellite TV dishes, satellite radios, surround-sound stereos, entertainment systems, navigation systems, Bluetooth-enabled communication devices, and fireplaces — the ultimate enjoyment with RV travel still involves pulling up a chair around a crackling fire and talking with your neighbors and friends.
Change is inevitable. Imagine your life 10 years ago, without Facebook, Twitter, iPads, or iPhones. Many of you embraced these new technologies as early adopters, while others may have just recently jumped on board, in some cases kicking and screaming. Let’s look at FMCA’s 50th anniversary year as a time to celebrate all of our accomplishments, yet to embrace and promote this fantastic lifestyle that has been the envy of so many.
In the words of the musical group Black-Eyed Peas, “I gotta feeling, tonight’s goin’ to be a good night.” More specifically in the case of FMCA, I think this year is going to be a great year!
Invite your non-FMCA motorhoming friends to join this great association during the months of January, February, and March (13 weeks!) and they will receive 13 months of membership for the price of 12. If your friends let us know that you referred them, you will receive a $10 certificate that may be used to renew your dues, purchase FMCA merchandise, or help pay the registration fee for an area rally or for the 50th anniversary Family Reunion celebration in Gillette, Wyoming, June 19-22, 2013 (limit of 2 certificates may be redeemed for an FMCA area rally or for the FMCA Family Reunion).
The more referrals you make, the more valuable certificates you receive. Just four referrals would translate to a free year of FMCA membership. Please see page31 for details about the Lucky 13 membership promotion!
FMCA Family Cookbook
We need your help to create an FMCA family cookbook to commemorate the association’s 50th anniversary in 2013. We’ll be enlisting the help of a company that specializes in compiling cookbooks, but we need you to fill it with tasty recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts. Share your favorite recipes by using the instructions that appear on page 97 of this issue of the magazine. The deadline for submitting recipes is February 15, 2013. Recipes will be included as space permits. More details will be forthcoming, but copies of the book will be available online at FMCAstore.com and also at FMCA’s 88th Family Reunion in Gillette, Wyoming, June 19-22, 2013.