FMCA president Jon Walker will complete his term in Gillette, Wyoming, having met the goals he set when he took office four years ago.
By Chris Smith, FMCA CEO
By the time you read this, we will be only about two weeks away from FMCA’s 103rd International Convention and RV Expo in Gillette, Wyoming. Plans are in place for a fun-filled summer event, July 7 through 10. Summer conventions also are where FMCA takes care of important business during the annual Governing Board meeting. Among many key decisions to be made, such as approving the budget for the next fiscal year, the biannual elections of FMCA’s four nationally elected officers will take place in Gillette.
One of the offices up for grabs is national president. This position is vital to the success of FMCA. If you need evidence of this, how about this overarching description of the responsibilities of the president spelled out in FMCA’s Policies and Procedures: “The President, FMCA’s chief elected officer, has the duty and responsibility to promote FMCA’s welfare and progress; preside at all meetings of the general membership, Governing Board, and Executive Board; and exercise supervision and control of the affairs and business of FMCA.”
Not only does the president have the weight of FMCA on him or her, with its nearly 150,000 members and $8 million dollar operation, but his or her paycheck is full of nothing but zeroes! It takes a very special person, one who truly loves FMCA, to assume that kind of volunteer position, with such enormous responsibility.
This is the last article I will write under the presidency of Jon Walker. That is a hard thing for me to comprehend. It seems like just yesterday Jon was sworn in as president of FMCA at our summer convention
in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2017. It was a big day for Jon. Not only was he now FMCA president, but he
also celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Sondra.
This was the first time I have served as CEO for the entirety of an FMCA president’s term. I, for one, am proud of what Jon and I have been able to accomplish together. When Jon took over, he had three simple yet challenging objectives he wanted to accomplish:
- Grow membership. FMCA had lost around 50,000 members the 10 years prior to Jon becoming president. This was a lofty goal, but one that we both believed was attainable. Through aggressive marketing efforts and many new member benefits, membership has grown under Jon’s presidency. Considering that FMCA lost an average of 5,000 members per year during the prior 10 years, this is quite the accomplishment.
- Stop using reserve funds to pay for operations. At one point in the early 2010s, FMCA was using around $100,000 per month in reserve funds to keep the doors open. During Jon’s presidency, the only time reserves were used and not replenished was to refund 2020 Tucson convention certificate holders. That was an extraordinary circumstance, as COVID-19 caused the event to be canceled just a couple of weeks before it was to occur.
- Operations must break even. FMCA had lost millions of dollars in operating funds leading up to Jon’s presidency. Each year during his term, the financial results improved. In fiscal year 2020, FMCA had its first positive operating year since 2013. Fiscal year 2021 will bring an even larger operating profit.
I think it is safe to say that Jon succeeded in what he set out to do. He should be very proud of these accomplishments, considering the state of FMCA when he took over. You always want to leave things better than you found them, and Jon has done just that with FMCA.
Jon has been a wonderful boss over these last four years. There are many words to describe him. He is fair, moral, caring, patient, even keeled, and humble. He never takes credit, but rather shares credit with everyone. I am sure as he reads this, he will not be happy that I am giving him so much praise! The best word I personally can use to describe Jon is as a friend. He has helped me professionally. He supported me in my transition to CEO. He has watched my children grow up. Not only do they know Jon very well, but when they talk about him, they refer to him as “Jon Walker.” My kids do not call anyone by their full name, so it makes me laugh every time. It has been my pleasure to have you as a boss and friend over the last four years, Jon. You and Sondra need to take a nice long vacation once you pass along the torch to the next president in Gillette. You are more than deserving. I can only hope the next president follows the groundwork you have laid and continues to lead FMCA to many more years of success.
By the way, it’s not too late to join us in Gillette. We’ll have plenty of space, so just come and register at the gate. If you can’t attend the Wyoming event, make plans now to join us in Tucson, Arizona, March 23 through 26, 2022. We’ll be heading to the Pima County Fairgrounds for a “redo” of the big fiesta that COVID-19 disrupted in 2020. Hope to see you at either or both events. Until then, enjoy the journey!
The mission of FMCA is to bring together RV owners who share similar interests in congenial traveling, recreation, and social activities in order to preserve and perpetuate the traditional ideals and spirit of friendly and wholesome family fellowship as manifested by the founders of FMCA.