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ol' yeller

How Can The BCA Survive?

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In the last Issue of the Bugle there was commentary about the shrinking membership of the BCA. My intent for this thread is not to bash the BCA nor any of its members as I am one too, rather to have a more realistic discussion of where the BCA will go as its membership matures.

I very much enjoy the comraderie, help and support from the members of both the National BCA and my local chapter. Often I hear how we need to find a way to bring the younger generation into the world of Buicks. I'm becoming more convinced that that is not really viable. My chapter has been slightly successful in getting one or two members who are in the under 30 generation but mostly we are a bunch of older gray hairs, myself included. We are losing older members much faster than we are gaining new younger members. That said, at this point, our local chapter is very healthy and has a membership of around 50-60 paid members. Bear in mind that many of our members are also spouses of the BCA member. We also put on an annual show that regularly attracts 100-150 cars, many coming from people who are not members of either the BCA nor our local chapter. They are also significantly from the older generation. All in all, not too bad right now but the future looks very uncertain.

It is my opinion that we don't attract the younger folks because Buicks aren't something they are typically interested in. Again, there are exceptions but I am speaking in generalities here. The younger generation is more interested in Ricers, not Grampa's (or worse, Gramma's) Buick. I think we are chasing a pipedream trying to recruit people who will not be swayed with tailfins and chrome. I noticed the same concerns from other service organizations, Like my local Lion's club who are also experiencing a graying of its membership. Too often we become mired in old traditions that make no sense to the younger set, or we become cliquish and not welcoming to new members. At our chapter meetings I always try to sit with new members and explain what we are doing during the meeting or what we are discussing to make them feel more involved.

My suggestions to the BCA is to accept that all things have a lifetime and we are well into the second half of our organization's lifespan. Lets make the best of a bad situation. We need to find a way to attract as many of our potential target audience (older car guys who like Buicks) and the find things to retain as many of them as we can. Our chapter has been succesful with having at least one event per month to involve the membership, be it a tour somewhere, or a caravan to a local show. An involved membership is a happy membership. We are not going to woo many Mopar guys into our fold nor are they going to get many of ours. We can and should try to attract and keep as many of the younger generation as we can but they will not be the salvation of our club nor our hobby.

The reality of a shrinking membership means shrinking revenues. That means we have some hard choices to make. As an organization that means curtailing resources or increasing revenues. Each has a double edged effect as some members will drop because they value the resouces that are cut, while others will drop because they can't afford the membership any more. The BCA needs to communicate their dilemma to their membership and involve them in the solutions (as they have been doing). I still think I get great value for my dollar as a BCA member and will continue as a paying member for many more years. If someone knows of the magic answer, I'd love to have you post here.

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The sentiment I hear, is the BCA is mostly for people 70 and up that want to play and show the cars they grew up with in from the 30s to early 40s. While I love looking at them, and even own a 46, I cant associate with them as I, along with the vast amount of the so called "baby boomers grew up with vehicles from the 60s and 70s.

There are other Buick groups out there that cater to these age groups. I just attended a show in Ohio with the Buick Performance Group, it was heavily attended, I was in a crowd of people my own age group and had the time of my life. Plenty of Rivieras, Gran Sports, Centurions, and Skylarks.

I can only hope the BCA will emerge from the box it has painted itself into. I must admit, I dont do much with the local chapter, as I really dont see it changing from the "old timers get togeather". I dont care to be the youngest person in the group, and heck I am in my 50s

The BCA says it wants the younger crowd to pass the torch to, it wont happen. The young people of today see cars in a different light than we did growing up. Times have changed. To them, a Buick is nothing more than a LeSabre, or Century or as my son puts it, Grandma's cars. The last 10 years of Buicks have been nothing but boring, is a young person going to drive one, NO.

I can only hope that the BCA does'nt forget the crowd that will be replacing the current medium age group. We have the time, the money and the abilities to make this grow, provided we are welcomed in as a group.

I have loved going to BCA events, it is something my father and I look forward to each year, I hope it can continue.

Edited by WWS (see edit history)

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Car guys (and gals) are Car guys! It doesn't matter what age they are. Buick has great cars in it's past that car guys want. Whether it be pre war or GS 455's or 49 Roadmasters or Grand Nationals car guys will collect these cars. There in lies the next generation of the BCA.

I'm 29 (well til next Saturday). I am a chapter director, a BCA Board of Director and BCA VP. Anyone who says the BCA doesn't have youth needs to look around a little better. I saw plenty of BCA Members at the Colorado Nationa Meet this year that were under 50. We're here, not in huge numbers and that is why the BCA needs more youth, but we ARE here. In the Carolina Chapter (my chapter) most of our members are under 60 and we have all Buicks represented, Pre-war, 50, 60s, GS, GN, Riv's and we welcome all Buicks

My generation certainly looks at the Buick of the 90's and 2000's as grandma's car no doubt, but the car guys amongst us can appreciate a quality older Buick's made and strive to own those. Being early in our careers my generation can't always afford these great Buicks right now, but when we get older as our parent and grandparent pass these greats on we will certainly enjoy them and be active in the club.

The BCA will be around for a long time to come. I personally plan on being in it for at least the next 50 years!!!

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Brian I agree with you. All it takes is one ride in any old car be it from the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's or 90's and people get hooked. Us younger people might not be able to afford a fully restored GS, or GN or any pre war car but we are around. But all it takes is someone with a mindset that a young person doesn't know anything and it can turn that person off to a club. Back in 2003 at the national I was yelled at and told that I didn't know what I was doing by so many older club members that I was ready to snap or that I had no clue what parts for my car should be selling for. Lucky for me I was able to keep my cool and just let it go, but some other people might not. Anyone who drives a Buick should be welcomed with open arms not looked down at cause it's not fully painted or restore or if it's not a 30's-70's Buick. i plan on being in the BCA for along as it's around no matter how small it get's down the road, and I hope to be still driving Buicks from the era that I grew up in. ( 80's ):cool:

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Car guys (and gals) are Car guys! It doesn't matter what age they are. Buick has great cars in it's past that car guys want. Whether it be pre war or GS 455's or 49 Roadmasters or Grand Nationals car guys will collect these cars. There in lies the next generation of the BCA.

I'm 29 (well til next Saturday). I am a chapter director, a BCA Board of Director and BCA VP. Anyone who says the BCA doesn't have youth needs to look around a little better. I saw plenty of BCA Members at the Colorado Nationa Meet this year that were under 50. We're here, not in huge numbers and that is why the BCA needs more youth, but we ARE here. In the Carolina Chapter (my chapter) most of our members are under 60 and we have all Buicks represented, Pre-war, 50, 60s, GS, GN, Riv's and we welcome all Buicks

My generation certainly looks at the Buick of the 90's and 2000's as grandma's car no doubt, but the car guys amongst us can appreciate a quality older Buick's made and strive to own those. Being early in our careers my generation can't always afford these great Buicks right now, but when we get older as our parent and grandparent pass these greats on we will certainly enjoy them and be active in the club.

The BCA will be around for a long time to come. I personally plan on being in it for at least the next 50 years!!!

Well said Brian - I agree.

In Australia we are seeing a continuing increase in the old car movement and prior to the economic downturn some unbelievable prices particularly for Aussie and American muscle cars of the 60's and 70's. The people buying these are generally 30 to 40 years of age who are cashed up thanks to the resource boom ( In Western Australia we just signed a $50billion deal to supply natural gas to the Chinese for the next 20 years ) and like to buy toys for their time off ( most fly in fly out 2 weeks work 1 week off ).

I would hate to guess how many cars have been imported from the US over the last 20 years but whatever you would like it is available,generally unrestored and this in turn supports a fairly healthy restoration business.

I guess because of our climate ( we drive all year round ) the cars are used a lot more and have a lot more exposure to the public, which in turn creates further interest.

I think the problem is not the younger generations interest in cars, its more the lack of interest in club activities. There is now way I could convince these hard working cashed up youngsters to park there car for a day at a show and shine and sit in a deck chair sipping coffee. But if I arranged a run of some sort which culminated by the beach at a rock concert or a 50's revival night it would be well patronised.

The future club members are there, the interest in old cars is there, what we have to do is supply what interests the younger generations in the way of club activities.

And Brian, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ( it's already Saturday down here ).

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I think all of the opinions from all of you folks has high merit.

My observations:

I'm a BCA and an ROA member (also a Cadillac & LaSalle member where age discrimination is rampant - age of person and age of Caddy). I'm also a babybomer (60 yrs old). I don't see many (if any) BCA local chapter members younger than me. I do however see many ROA members younger..40's & 50's. On average, the 50's folks own the 60's/70's Rivs and the 40's folks own the 80's/90's Rivs. But, because the interest is narrowed to just one model, we all mix extremely well together.

Also, I've observed that the Riviera Performance folks (99% own 95-99 Rivs) are of an average age of mid 30's and they have done some remarkable upgrades to this era Riv...made them into "muscle cars".

Somehow, BCA members have to get these young guys to gain an interest in the club....maybe stop dismissing the "newness" of their Buicks. I know from where they come...I've been dismissed many a'time because of the "young" 1992 Rivieras I own. We need to see the forest through the trees...a buick is a buick is a buick!...and nothing else should matter.

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Depending on your age, younger could be 60. Part of our problem is the greying of the members, but Buicks cost more to restore than Camaros, Corvettes, T'birds and other cars that have a greater following and a raft of supplies competing to get their business. This must have some influence on younger people trying to restore them.

Buicks have been built since 1903, longer than any other US brand still making cars today.

Why do we only have 9000 members when the brand has been made for 106 years?

I ran for the board in 2003 asking that question and I still don't have an answer. WWS above may have part of the answer...... young people join the club to get answers, the (grey hair) members already have the answers and in most cases, restored and driveable Buicks.

Are we older members unwilling to help the younger people with their problems? I think in most cases that is not the problem, but the older guys are not going to crawl under the car and turn wrenches, they have served their time and should be looked at as treasured old books with lots of knowledge. What the older owners must remember, they were once young and needed help. Welcome the younger Buick owners, encourage them to work on and restore their Buicks and MAKE THEM WELCOME at Buick club meeting and shows.

The BCA has changed in recent years. Remember when the Modified Division was formed?

Remember when Modified Buicks were first judged? Every year the class gets larger with nicer cars. Obviously this is what some younger members want.

Why is there a seperate Riviera club when it could be a Division of the BCA if we serviced them as well as their independant club does.

The list goes on and there are things the BCA can do to attract more members.

Just remember if you are a BCA member, you are the club and you should not be expecting some other member to carry the BCA torch........we all must do our share to help grow the BCA

As I said in the June Bugle.......it is in the best interest of every BCA member to help the club grow.

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Being a 30-something family man with three kids makes it difficult to own an old Buick. There have been times when I wished my Buick was a Chevy so I would have access to more parts and more affordable parts. This may play a part in the shrinking of the BCA.

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Guest BJM

Just because the BCA used to be 10,000 members does not mean it's in decline in quality if the membership drops.

There are macro changes going on here that started a long time ago. 1st was the 'speculator' market of the late 1980's. The rising tide lifted all boats and suddenly the (now) old BCA members had much more valuable cars.

It became more expensive to restore cars.

There was sudden stop in collectible Buicks - which accelerated the demographic shift in interests.

The 1970's saw a stop in what you might call halo cars - special limited edition cars whose broad shoulders influenced other Buicks.

There are definitely collectible Buicks in the 70's and 80's but the demographic groups of interested people have split off into sub-groups not affiliated with the BCA - as others have noted here.

If the ROA were a chapter or division of the BCA instead of a seperate group - then the numbers of our membership would instantly swell over 10,000 again.

Now is the time to push to see if we can get that group to join the BCA formally. The main guy with the ROA retired only to be forced back into a leadership role. I am sure he would be interested in passing on the ROA administration.

The Oldsmobile Club of America, itself split from the older Olds club, has a column each month in it's magazine "Journey With Olds" dedicated to the Toronado. Toronado = Riviera. There is no bad blood with the Toronado owners group, which has it's own website but requires membership in the OCA to join the Toro group.

We could do the same and maybe feature one whole Bugle annually to the Riviera. They could still fold in their own events and like Reatta, have gatherings and special trophies.

* *

The emphasis on "youth" is highly overrated. Some of us had fathers who were instrumental in getting the kids hands greasy and preaching loyalty. There is nothing like a dad letting a kid turn a wrench or help polish a wheel then "cruising" in that same car.

How many magazine profiles in the Bugle, Hemmings publications, etc have you seen noting that as a kid the owner was steeped in that make's loyalty and desire.

Those days are over. There is no brand loyalty today. Again, this is in the macro, statistical sense so if you are loyal to Bucik that's not what I mean.

It goes back to the rising tide analogy. Back before the speculator market made the old car hobby one of greed, there was a growing and expanding "market" of club members for all makes. Combine this with the dawning of the information age and you had the golden era of car collecting.

Those days are over. Rather then wringing our hands over dropping membership numbers, the BCA simply needs to put out a good product and let those who want to join - join and enjoy.

To do this the BCA needs to -

1. Continue to provide a great Bugle and use "best practices" to develop it. We have a great editor and plenty of stories - he always says he has a back log. But what are the best publications doing and in time - can they be incorporated into the Bugle.

One idea is to have an annual collectible Bugle made from better paper with better photography.

2. Continue to have national meets. Seems obvious but I know of some clubs that do not have National meets or they have National meets in a generally same geographic area. Clubs without national meets (or deemphasized focus) are clubs on serious decline.

3. Look to bring the splinter groups into the BCA in some capacity. There is a lot of youth in the splinter groups - and to Barney's point - youth is relative. I'm 46 now and I was 28 when I joined the BCA. I'm still considered young.

4. Older members with valuable Buicks need to CONSIDER stewardship when the time comes to reduce collections. These are YOUR cars so you can do whatever you want with them but if you feel your old car activities are at a zenith consider selling your uber valuable car that demostrated paper gains from the speculator markets for pennies on the dollar to a loyal younger member.

This might seem outrageous but I have seen families sell 6 or 7 digit valued collections seconds after a BCA or other club member passes away. That's not stewardship by the aging BCA member.

Pick someone out in the club who is younger and loyal and focused, someone maybe with restoration and preservation talent and sell him that older Buick with a golden rule handshake. Some of these deals won't work out but it's an outside the box thinking that should be floated at least.

At age 46 I grew up in the 70's and those Buicks were boring to me. (Especially when all manufacturers went all Ricardo Montalban on the interiors and trim) but now I see real collectability in those mid 70's cars.

These are cars that can get those of us with families and who are "family poor" into the club and active.

So yes, I 100% agree that the Bugle should continue to feature newer then 1972 stories and members rides and the BCA in general should foster a continued openness to newer models.

5. Frankly this forum has been a disappointment to me. I visit daily but I know there are thousands of BCA members that rarely come on here that I would love to hear from. Stories and comments, insights.

And when you think about it, at age 46 with so many interests I should NOT be on here. Those same aging members with time on their hands should be putting the most content on here, mistyped words or not!

This forum has had a huge drop off in diversity. there are just a few consistent voices and I am sure you are all tired of mine. Me too! I want to hear from some of the subject matter experts of the Buick world, I want more digital photos of Buicks and restoration work to aid those of us doing restorations.

Edited by BJM (see edit history)

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Thanks for posting this thread... It is one of the most important topics we currently have in the BCA.

For several years, I was disappointed with the BCA because there were virtually no prewar Buicks at local BCA club events. So, I didn't join the BCA and just continued to put up with the really older crowd in the HCCA. (At least they put on tours where I could keep up with their older automobiles.)

After attending the Buick Centennial in Flint, I decided that the BCA needed more options for prewar car owners who (like me and my buddies) wanted to restore and tour with their cars at slower speeds to participate in club events and not be left behind by the mostly Buick muscle cars.

So, two of my Buick buddies and I started the BCA PreWar Division (PWD) to provide information and activities for BCA members with older Buicks. Since then, we have added many new members and "saved" many from leaving the BCA. The point is, we did something about it. This forum now has a very active PreWar Buick section and we publish a bimonthly emailed newsletter to keep over 300 of our active members in touch with PWD activities. Also, after the BCA board did a survey, we now see many more prewar Buick articles in the Bugle.

I got started in this hobby by helping my dad restore a 27 chevy followed by several beater cars from MGs to Jeeps that I had during my teen years. I am now in my late 50s and have 5 prewar buicks that are all much older than me.

So, I don't subscribe to the myth that because Buick didn't make collector cars in recent years, the BCA membership will dwindle. There are plenty of Buicks yet to be restored and enjoyed.

As Barney said "Buicks have been built since 1903, longer than any other US brand still making cars today." So, "why do we only have 9000 members when the brand has been made for 106 years?"

I think it is because very few older BCA members want to change anything. It will mostly take younger members like Brian DePouli along with members that are "young at heart" and still have the energy to make those changes. I agree that the BCA board needs to loosen up a bit & encourage the Buick splinter groups not asociated with the BCA to come back into the fold.

I try to do my part by giving rides to kids at club events. There is nothing more fun than riding around in my 13 Buick with giggling kids in the back seat of a touring car. I am usually asked by their parents for a ride when the kids are done.... I just wonder how many of my young riders will eventually become BCA members...

Edited by Mark Shaw (see edit history)

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Thanks everyone for understanding the purpose of this thread. What we need are good concrete ideas to help our club survive. I also find it interesting what some here consider as the "younger" members. I was including myself in the gray hair group and I am 56! When I talked about attracting younger members, I was figuring on those under age 30. It is my feeling that while we should encourage those under 30 to join and become active members, to count on their number as the salvation for the BCA is overly optomistic. They generally have other interests. As I tried to state in my OP, there are exceptions and I welcome them with open arms.

I see examples of Buick snobbery (mostly unintentionally) even within our local. Owners of newer Buicks like the Reatta, newer Rivis and even the GN and T-Types are looked upon as nice cars but not in the same class as "MY" car. That attitude doesn't portend well for the future of our organization. I agree that anything Buick should be welcome and appreciated. I do not belong to the BPG as my '65 Skylarks are probably not considered to be real "performance cars". Having separate organizations like the ROA, the BPG, and the BCA means that each is filling a void left by the others. If the pool of available members gets cut up into smaller and smaller specialty groups, they can't all survive in the current form.

Drop down a few forums here and browse the Reatta forum. There is a ton of knowledge that I as a gray hair still can't begin to fathom. Programming a chip to get better performance or understanding the myriad of information the CRT is telling you. Even the lexicon has changed, IPCs, IAC's, EGR's BCM's, ECM's, ABS, etc., these guys know their stuff.

I would encourage all the BCA members to broaden your horizons or you surely will watch your organizion wither and die. As the cost of membership increases, and services provided decline, we will lose membership from both causes. Add to this the aging of our population and the numbers can only be expected to drop. The BCA needs to become more inclusive than ever. Please do not take this as a criticism of what has been done as I know firsthand the challenges of keeping an organization together. Rather take it as a challenge to do what you do better than ever.

We are in an interesting hobby. We have members who don't even own a computer and communicate via "snail mail". Obviously they are not reading this. We have members who are in the Facebook and Twitter generation who can access information in a flash. And, we have guys like me who fall somewhere in the middle. I am willing to move more towards technology as I'd prefer to keep up rather than be left behind. This forum is a giant step towards what we need to be doing. We do need to provide enough value to our members so that they visit it and contribute often.

Again, great discussion, please keep it going. Your ideas and suggestions are needed more than ever. I'm sure that some BCA board members are following this thread. Let's let them know what we think. After all, it is OUR organization.

Greg

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This is the biggest problem I hear about in every organization inwhich I hold a membership.

The post-WWII baby boomers are not as likely to join a group as their parents. And the under-40 crowd are even less likely to join a formal organization. Add to that Buick's dwindling model lineup for the last few years, and the tendancy of many BCA members to look down on smaller or 'cloned' so-called non-Buick models and you see where the trend is going and why.

Ironically, if Buick had been building and selling updated versions of those smaller Buick Skyhawks lately, they would likely be part of the "2Fast 2Furious' crowd that is really, REALLY into modifying and showing their cars. Oh, wait, BCAers don't like modified cars, either...

And so it goes.....

Young people today are into technology, Starbucks and tatoos (ink)....maybe there should be an internet Starbucks tent at the next national meet, with a tatoo tent offering 50% off on Buick-related tats? Nah, it'll never happen.

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Well, if that isn't an invitation for MrEarl to show off his tattoo again, I don't know what is :cool:

Some good comments here. The first thing I'll say is that, hard as it is, we all need to get over stereotypes. When we talk in stereotypese, we alienate some potential members.

Next thing is, if it is a Buick, no matter whether or not it is to your tastes, try to find something nice to say to the owner about it. This is also your in to start a discussion about the BCA and what it has done for you. Showing off a Bugle or two doesn't hurt. Having membership applications is also a good idea (I printed off a number of the online forms after inserting my name and BCA # in the sponsor field.

As far as "chasing" youth goes, it depends on how you define youth. I think we would get more bang for the buck targeting the 30 and 40-something crowds. There are a number of us here, and some have spoken up, but this is the age when typically child-rearing is getting less hectic (getting out of diapers, perhaps a child or two can babysit the younger, etc.). It is also a time when someone is more likely to be in a better position in their career and finances and perhaps either getting into the hobby or finally doing something with dad's / grandpa's old Buick that may have been left to them. They maybe even are getting the mortgage paid off and have more disposable income.

If you look at the current Board of Directors, Brian and Kris definitely fall into the "younger" crowd...Kevin's a bit older, but considerably less gray than I am. Bill is at least young at heart and has way more energy than I do in terms of what he does for the club. I don't think this is a group with its head in the sand.

This topic was discussed somewhat at the board meeting in Colorado. The current big problem is that membership dropped lower than projected, therefore revenue from dues dropped, creating something of a cash crunch. I think there was some good discussion there, although I have enough gray hair to not be able to reproduce much of it now that it is almost 2 months past. Was that discussion possibly recorded?

One of the concrete things you can do is, if you have them, get your children or grandchildren involved. If you don't have them, adopt the kids next door for car shows...heck, they're always over in the driveway drooling over your cars anyway. If you have been to the last few Nationals (excluding Flint 2008), you have probably seen my children. They are now 9, 11, and 13 - my BCA membership is going to turn into 4 in a few years. They love going to the National, seeing different places, and seeing the cars. The two older ones helped out with a bit of a judging shortage this year in Colorado Springs. I think that says something....

One thing I mentioned at the meeting in Colorado was that the National activities need to get a bit more family friendly. Generally, the attractions fit the bill, but other than the banquet, I have not yet seen a provision for child pricing. While I haven't attended any yet, those of you putting on regional events or simply a local event, think about it. If say a meal is $20 a head, are you turning off that family of 5? In chatting after with Bill and Rick, I have been assured they are taking this matter to heart for Iowa 2010.

I also mentioned that I was inspired by one of our Aussie friends on the forum here and arranged to take my '54 wagon to school one day in June. My youngest child's grade 3 class then spent some time looking at it and compared it to a modern minivan (which is ultimately the replacement of the station wagon in function). The children were really great about it in terms of finding things that were similar as well as differences. They asked intelligent questions (not to mention that they also asked very different questions than adults tend to). That day, I became the greatest Dad at the school (I know that won't last though...). More importantly, I took the car show to a bunch of children, rather than just taking one or two children to a car show. I exposed many of them to the old car hobby when many of them wouldn't have seen anything that old before. I also exposed them to Buicks. There are schools all over...try it, you may like it.

As previously stated, all sorts of groups are having trouble replacing membership, so the BCA isn't alone there. That being said, we have to look at whether or not everything the BCA offers still makes sense. The Bugle is the largest expense, and for many of us, is the biggest benefit to the membership. The quality needs to stay high. Part of that will require some succession planning (much as many would like, I am fairly certain Pete won't do it forever...) to ensure the high quality remains. Note - I'm not out to replace Pete, just suggesting that worst case, he is human therefore mortal, therefore cannot do it forever.

Another thought that was stated (if I remember correctly, it was Barney's open letter published in the Bugle a few months back) is to imagine what it would be like if we each brought in one new member. The membership would double. That would resolve the immediate financial concerns. That also needs to be sustained.

Well, I'm sure I've blathered long enough...for the record, prior to purchasing Spirit, all my "old" Buicks were older than me. I don't think it will stay that way forever though...there is a calling or yearning for either a Reatta and / or a last generation Riviera.

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Being a 30-something family man with three kids makes it difficult to own an old Buick. There have been times when I wished my Buick was a Chevy so I would have access to more parts and more affordable parts. This may play a part in the shrinking of the BCA.

Agreed!

... Add to that Buick's dwindling model lineup for the last few years, and the tendancy of many BCA members to look down on smaller or 'cloned' so-called non-Buick models and you see where the trend is going and why...

What does Buick produce today that would make anyone want to join BCA?

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I don't see the relationship with what Buick produces today with joining the BCA.

The BCA is about collectable cars, cars you had in High School, cars your parents drove and Buick you lusted for ............ plus the knowledge you can get from other owners of the same

Buick.

I purchased a 1939 Buick Century in November of 2008 and read everything I could find about them for 7-8 months. At Colorado Springs, I associated with Buick owners that furthered my education about '39's more in 3 days than I had learned in those 7-8 months.

Plus I met some great Buick people that up to that time I had never met. You get first hand stories about trips, repairs and help finding and fixing parts.

Part of the problem today is people asking "what do I get" when we need members that are willing to say "what can I do"

I've said it before and I guess it needs repeating.............

The BCA is not like a health club where you pay your dues and they take care of everything for you. This is a member participation car club (as most are) the BCA provides services for which there are expenses and every member pays an equal share.

(1) there is a national office that is a central point of activity. They collect dues, send out dues notices, maintain the membership database, answer the phone and answer questions or direct the caller to someone that can help them. Until we find a member that would be willing to do this for free...... it is an expense.

(2) The Bugle is a high quality monthly magazine sent to every BCA member. It contains great indepth articles with excellant photos (mostly in color) by a world class editor that know about Buicks (and many other vehicles). It keeps you up to date on Buick events that are scheduled around the country, and you are welcome to attend as a BCA member. There are FREE classified ad available to members both to buy and sell.

The Bugle is the major expense of the BCA and accounts for 70% of the budget... that includes editor fees (try and find someone that will work for free) layout fees, printing and ever increasing mailing cost.

We have just under 9000 members in the US and foreign countries. There are about 67 BCA Chapters spread over the US and 6 (sub) Divisions that specilize in specific Buicks and in most cases put out their own magazine/newsletter. If you cannot find a Chapter or Division that meets your needs........ let us know and there may be other that will join you and form one. Until then the BCA welcomes ALL Buick owners.

me

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We have just under 9000 members in the US and foreign countries. There are about 67 BCA Chapters spread over the US and 6 (sub) Divisions that specilize in specific Buicks and in most cases put out their own magazine/newsletter. If you cannot find a Chapter or Division that meets your needs........ let us know and there may be other that will join you and form one. Until then the BCA welcomes ALL Buick owners.

me

As long as there are old Buicks, there will be a Buick Club. The recent crushing of so many restorable 40's-80's cars I am afraid impacted the club more than we realize right now. We pretty much only have what we have already restored and as the old gray's turn them over to the younger throw away generation they will have to be appreciated. As this world gets smaller and smaller and so many of our Buicks are crossing the big pond, are we missing anything by remaining the Buick Club of America or should we be considering an IBC-International Buick Club.

get me outa here Percy. (where is the ducking tomatoes smilie icon when you need it)

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I have been a member of the BCA for 30+ years. I was one of the young kids(21) with a Buick that was modified ('37 coupe with a 231/auto). I discovered what Buick built cars were capable of doing. When the kids came along the cars didn't get driven as much.

Fast forward, 2 boys raised, both in their early 20's. 1 has a modified '61 special, the other is still a Buick lover but is into motorcycles right now. He will be a Buick owner again. He can't get '70-'72 Skylarks out of his head. The one with the '61 is a new family man and cannot afford to join the club right now. I have been planning to buy him a year subscription for christmas for many years and this will be the year. HINT HINT.

I have owned and sold many many Buicks over the years. With each one sold I always show them a recent copy of the Bugle and give them the info to join.

Here is the thought that might help. This summer I sold my '62 skylark to a 16 year old kid (mom and dad helped) for less money than what book had it priced at. The kid had gotten to me when he saw the old Skylark and realized how neat it was (bring back any memories?). What I should have done is charged him $40.00 extra or given up $40.00 out of my pocket to help the new Buick owner and the club out. I should have signed him up after all I had all of his info and money. Wouldn't that been a nice surprise for him? I goofed!

This kid is going to show up at car shows and etc. He is not going to want to go out for coffee. He does not know anything about the car he bought (dad doesn't know either). He will believe his Buick is the best car ever turned out of the factory. And it is the best Buick in his eyes. How do help him get/keep him in the club? 1 year free exposure to the club will help but we will have to make him feel welcome. He will not have alot of cash, he will not know alot about cars, he will not want to be critisized for what he may have done wrong, he will need positive reassurance no matter what you personally think about him and his car.

So if you see a young kid with a '62 Skylark in flat black primer, baby moons, beauty rings, and a few other changes made to the car (I did these mods) please welcome him. He knows about Ames next year and I hope he will show up.

Randy

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Wow, lots of great comments here. Please let me add a few

Assuming that: in order to save the BCA on a National level we need to grow the membership, here are some ideas for consideration.

1) Allow Local Chapters to include Non-BCA Members:

Considering the "Member at Large" Standard Operating Procedure( SOP), is there any reason Chapters cannot open their ranks to non BCA members? Several reasons to allow this change include:

* it offers NON-BCA people a chance to test drive the BCA.

* Lower initial cost to potential members for BCA linkage, which is a small but persistent factor in at least our area of the country.

* A chance for Buick owners to meet and develop relationships with established BCA members. These relationships, if satisfactory, would lead to greater participation locally and open the door for full BCA membership.

* A chance for the National to sell the BCA from within. We have a great club but regardless of our progress over the years, some who have been disillusioned in the past continue to cling to negative experiences, and taint the BCA before new owners can decide for themselves. This would allow people to see the positives and make a more informed decision as to their participation in the BCA experience.

Under such a program, the non-BCA member would still receive limited BCA benefits on a year round basis ( ie: no Bugle, or rights of full membership) but they would be linked to the National for events through the Member at Large SOP. And through this linkage the opportunity exists to boost the national organization..

2) Multi tiered Dues Structure:

If the idea above was incorporated into BCA operations, a multi tiered dues structure could benefit both the National level and the Local Chapters. Here’s one possibility for how it could work:

Option one: Join just the National, Dues $ xx.oo per annum

Option two: Join just the Local, Dues $ yy.oo per annum

Option three: Join both, Dues are $xx.00 discounted by d% plus $yy.00 discounted by d%. One payment is made to the National level, and the Local’s share is subsequently rebated to the Chapter on an annual basis. This is just one option, but the benefit here is a discount to belong to both organizations, and the member only issues one payment. It avoids the nickle and dime scenario which may impact some peoples decision about membership. It also provides incentive to join both parts of the organization.

And, further assuming BCA survival includes reducing costs, how about a new publication, a "Bugalette" for lack of any other name, which would be used in alternating monthly cycle with the Bugle? This could mean the Bugle gets printed six times a year, presumably on an alternating monthly basis, and in the off month, a smaller and less costly publication is sent. This Bugalette could include the Calendar of Events, Classifieds ( both advertisers and member ads) , Chapter and Divisional contact information, plus information regarding joining the BCA. Perhaps this schedule would allow us to cut costs but accomplish the goal of reaching all members at least once a month, which is important to keep people involved.

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John,

I hope someone is going to copy all of these ideas down and take them forward. To add to Johns ideas I would like to say:

How about an online Bugle for all of the people who use the internet. Many people like to read about things on paper (hard copy), others read the screen. Internet people could print the Bugle on their own paper using their own ink too. This will reach a more deverse group of people.

I personally enjoy getting mine in the mail but would also print it if it were a choice.

Maybe a "Bugle-tte" on line and a Bugle in the mail?

Randy

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I want to see the magazine delivered to my door. I have printed stuff off for further follow up or reading and it ends up being thrown away. Magazines, I take them everywhere to read. If I remember an article, I can find the book and re-read the article. I am usually pretty good within a book or two of finding the article.

stevo

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This has been discussed here before, but I joined the Buick Club because I like supporting the hobby, I like the magazine, and I like having a network for parts if I need them. This is from a 32 year old guy, almost the target bracket mentioned in this thread. With the internet, that last one isn't as important, but I'll continue to support as long as I can or I feel benefit from being a member. I'm not affiliated with local chapters, not because they're bad, it's just that the closest is almost an hour away from me and I am always working on my cars, or hanging out with my wife, or riding one of my antique bicycles, or going camping, or whatever...no knock on the club or anything. Not to mention, During the school year (I'm a teacher), I've just got stuff going on. Anyway, the one thing I can recommend is to not be critical because some younger guys don't have show vehicles...I only had a problem once. My '53 has OLD pitted paint (20 footer). I'm not planning on painting it any time soon because it looks kind of cool and well worn the way it is, and I am completely redoing the body on my Mustang and can't afford to do all my cars (I'm a teacher!). Some member of the Buick Club said to me, after I was talking about all the mechanical work I was doing, "Now all it needs is a paint job." Talk about arrogant...really turned me off, but I met some nice members, plus the ones on here, that overpowered the bad. Just a couple of incoherent ramblings from a member who may be considered a bit "nontraditional."

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I want to comment on John DeFiore's suggestions/ideas.

There are some technical reasons that people must be members of the BCA national club to

be involved with local Chapters. It has to do with insurance... the SOP noted states that we must charge them something (and log the payment) to be a "Member at Large" this technicallity covers us on the insurance.

In Johns part 2 he talke to multilevel memberships........ this might work but everyone must pay their way. We cannot give away memberships to some members and charge others or there will be an uprising.........equality and fairness comes into play.

One of the best ideas I have heard recently .......... at Colorado Springs, one of the Chapters said they give NEW members a one year free Chapter membership when they show they belong to the BCA. At a Chapter level, this does some of the things John suggests.

The new member gets to test drive the Chapter for a year and most Chapters can absorb the small cost of this...... it also encourages the Chapter to make the new member at home and feel welcome because they want and need them to stay for multiple years.

Nothing official has happened, but the BCA Board is looking at online Bugles.........

Read this carefully........ they are looking at it......... the main advantage and possibly the test qroup would be FOREIGN BCA members. It takes 4-8 weeks for the Bugle to arrive in some countries. The BCA has several dedicated members in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe that would benefit in receiving the Bugle via the internet.

If they are looking for parts, the parts are sold by the time they receive their Bugle. If they

could get a online copy, they would have a fighting chance at the parts. They would also have the option of getting a hard copy.

If this works and there are no bugs, then the general BCA membership MIGHT have the same option. Again, nothing official but there could be three levels of membership.

(A) Online only........ this would be the lowest cost but not free because these members should pay their share of the editors salary, layout, and adminstration cost. What would be saved would be the printing, paper, and postage

(B) Hard copy of the Bugle.... this is the membership level we have today.

© Hard copy and online access..... this would give members the hard copy of the Bugle for their archives, but give them immediate access to the magazine. This would be most attractive to our foreign members and possibly generate more foreign members. We need to evaluate the extra adminstration time ($$) it takes to do this. It might be at no extra cost but most likely there would be a very small additional charge.

Aaron and others..... I too have a Corvair and it has not been on the road for 20+ years, but I have been a CORSA member since late 1970, have attended many National Corvair meets, was one of the founders of our local Corvair club, and over the past 50 years have owned 33+ Corvairs. Although I have not had a running Corvair for at least 10 years...... I am still involved with my local club.

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)

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Wow - this is a great thread. It always amazed me that Greg Field (BCA#1) recruited more members than anyone else in the BCA when he was around. He went out of his way to talk to anyone with a collectable Buick of any vintage; he was always positive, friendly, courteous and encouraging - never critical of "too new" or a rough car. Maybe we could offer a free annual membership to BCA members that recruit at least 5/10/? new members in a year.

I just got off the phone with a guy who was driving through last weeks' local cruise night with his newly purchased Reatta coupe. He had a handful of notes he was trying to hand out that read as follows "Hello - I just acquired a 1989 Reatta. Would like to talk to someone who owns one. Please cal me at . . . ." I told him about the Buick Club and the Reatta Forum and gave him my phone number so we can rendezvous at the next cruise night.

I am a die-hard Buick fan (BCA member since I graduated from high school – 1973 so you know my age) and a lifetime BCA member. I, too, have been criticized by old timers – I’ll never forget the negative comments I got when I proudly showed up with my 22 year old original unrestored 1960 Electra 225 convertible at a nearby chapter show and was ridiculed for bringing a “new” car with dents in the hood.

As BCA members, we all need to be always on the lookout to recruit new members. We all need to be positive, friendly, courteous and encouraging.

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One more suggestion... Always fill your back seat.

Many people have never experienced riding in collector cars..... Even those who have had a ride in a Model A or Model T don't realize how different it is to ride in a Buick... (No slam here).

Empty seats are missed opportunities to expose others to the hobby. Invite your kids and grandkids, but don't forget your friends & neighbors too.

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Barney - first off, I want to thank you for what you have done for the club with your involvement with the Reatta group, the BoD, and probably a bunch more than I can think of. This is not intended as a criticism, but I think it has to be said.

I don't see the relationship with what Buick produces today with joining the BCA.

The BCA is about collectable cars, cars you had in High School, cars your parents drove and Buick you lusted for ............ plus the knowledge you can get from other owners of the same

Buick.

I would argue that the BCA is about people who like / enjoy and / or own vehicles produced by Buick. Period. Granted, by their age, many are deemed collectible regardless of the model. I would argue all Buick should be included and, at present, they are. We have a 2006 Rainier. It is in the roster, as are many newer model Buicks that may very well never be considered collectible.

If it is about collectible Buicks, then what is the next generation of collectors going to collect if Buick is only producing run of the mill appliances rather than automobiles of beauty, grace, and even performance? Every person I have talked to enjoys their Rendezvous or Enclave, but will they be considered collectible in the future?

We have just under 9000 members in the US and foreign countries. There are about 67 BCA Chapters spread over the US and 6 (sub) Divisions that specilize in specific Buicks and in most cases put out their own magazine/newsletter. If you cannot find a Chapter or Division that meets your needs........ let us know and there may be other that will join you and form one. Until then the BCA welcomes ALL Buick owners.

The last sentence kind of contradicts your earlier statement about collectible Buicks. I'm sure this was not intended, but for a non-BCA member reading this forum, it could be confusing, if not a turn-off.

Now, as for those who don't belong to chapters due to distance, please consider joining your closest chapter. After it was announced that the National Meet was going to be in Rochester, I joined the Gopher State Chapter. I figured that it was never going to get closer to me and I might feel a bit more that I belonged if I got a bit involved. I live about 450 miles from the Twin Cities where the chapter is headquartered and meetings occur. The only meeting I have attended was in 2006 in Rochester since I happened to be there. I keep hoping to time a trip down for a few days in one of the summer months that covers the meeting date, but it just hasn't worked out yet. For a small fee, I get an additional Buick-focused, relatively local newsletter. I have managed now on two occasions to get down to a chapter run show and it has been a lot of fun, especially the almost-traditional pre-show dinner at Famous Dave's up the street. I have even contributed a bit...I have contributed several articles (and a recipe or two) to the newsletter. This Labour Day weekend, I am hosting a tour for the chapter (even though only a few are coming up it should be fun), including a member of the BCA BoD. It can really add to your overall BCA experience.

Also, I know a number of the Chicagoland members are also members of Gopher State and vice versa.

I do dislike hearing about people and cost though. Granted, I understand some are on more limited incomes than others. However, if you drive an old Buick, does a tank of fuel not cost more than a BCA membership (or at least pretty close...we are more heavily taxed up here)? How about license / registration / insurance fees? I like to think of membership dues being part of the cost of the hobby.

Anyway, I've started rambling again....

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