A 21st-Century AMCA
By Richard Spagnolli
In my first “Wheels In Motion” column as President, back in the Spring 2011 issue, I stated that although there had been a change in the leadership of the Club, there would be no change in the AMCA culture. With continued strong member participation in National and local AMCA Meets, Events and Road Runs over the past two years, this has certainly been the case.
But with a 58-year history of Club members’ passion for old motorcycles driving the future of the AMCA, it may be time to consider if the AMCA culture would be best served by bringing its operations into the 21st century.
Under current bylaws, the responsibility for governance of the Club rests solely with the Board of Directors. There is no Executive Committee making decisions, and contrary to the belief of some members, the President does not govern the Club. Simply stated, in addition to deciding policy and procedures, the Board is also responsible for the always-changing and often challenging day-to-day operation of the Club.
Based on my experience over the past five years, first as a Board Member and now as President, this is not a very efficient way to run the AMCA. Dealing with day-to-day operations of the Club, on top of their regular jobs, can quickly consume the free time and energy of the volunteer Board, leaving little opportunity for long-term planning.
The Board recognized this problem in 2010, deciding for the first time to transfer some day-to-day tasks to a part-time manager. Beginning in January 2011, the Board entered into a contract with Bill Wood (one of the editors of this magazine) to perform specific duties that were previously handled on a volunteer basis by then-Secretary Trudi Johnson-Richards and other Board members.
Although recent events have increased some of his duties temporarily, this arrangement has worked very well for the Club membership. And with its limited duties, the contract is affordable. But considering the size of our Club and the increasing duties faced by the Board, I believe the AMCA may be ready to take the next step and consider the hiring of an executive director.
Why hire an executive director when we already have an operations manager? It’s a matter on time commitment. Bill has done an excellent job in the position of operations manager, but his responsibilities as editor mean that he cannot devote additional time to an expanded position. I think everyone will agree that Bill and the DGB Communications team have done a fine job of increasing the quality and size of this magazine. And Bill believes he can make his best contributions to the Club by remaining in the role of editor. I agree with that assessment.
All of this means that if the Club were to seek an executive director, we would phase out the current operations manager role and consolidate those responsibilities, plus many more, in the hands of the new person.
But, you may ask, don’t we have members who will volunteer to perform the tasks required of an executive director?
Good question. This idea of filling key roles with volunteers has been a part of the Club from its inception. Volunteers will always form the core of the operations of the Club and its Chapters. But on a National level, the Club often needs to rely on expertise that volunteer members may not possess. In addition, there may be insufficient volunteers to perform necessary tasks. As an example, the AMCA Old Iron Volunteer Program has attracted a few volunteers, but this program was not designed to fulfill the Club’s needs on a daily basis. In some cases, volunteers have had to resign when they see just how much time their AMCA “job” takes away from their personal and business lives.
An experienced executive director would oversee daily operations and advise the Board on those aspects. But that person would also make key recommendations on critical issues like Club sustainability and growth; Chapter development and relations; financial needs and budgets; insurance; structure; governance; strategic and long-term planning; and many other incidental needs of a club the size of the AMCA.Our recent experience with the operations manager position has helped us develop a reasonable job description that expands upon a system which is already working.
Recent events in the Club’s operations have convinced me that simply doing things the way they have been done in the past is not the best course for our Club. Not only do times changes, but so do national and state legalities, IRS and state tax regulations, insurance coverages, postal requirements and a host of other areas that require regular and close oversight.