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How Can The BCA Survive?


ol' yeller

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I have a question. I'm hopeful a member of the BoD or the Book's could supply an answer. Could we pull up membership numbers for the past several (10-20) years? I know that there are new memberships and renewals and cancellations all the time, so a particular point in time would have to be chosen - perhaps year end. I don't recall if those numbers have been published recently - if so, please feel free to slap me around and direct me to the numbers.

I know that I joined in early 2003 in order to attend the Centennial in Flint and I have never looked back. My BCA number is 39416. I just got a copy of the October Bugle this week. I see new member numbers are well over 44000. So, assuming numbers are assigned chronologically, we have had roughly 5000 new members in the past 6.5 years, or an average rate of over 750 per annum. Sadly, we do lose members to death. How much has our membership dropped in the same time frame overall? To lose 250 per year overall would mean that we are losing 1000 per year after taking the new memberships into account. That would be a 10%+ turnover. The local club I am a member of has highs and lows as well, but I don't think the turnover is anywhere near that. Is it the new members we are losing? They perhaps join to take in a National near them, and let their membership lapse after a year? Is our age demographic such that we have that many passings? Is it long term members that we are losing? I suspect it is a combination of all of the above, but it would be nice to get a feel for it. If it is primarily new members finding the club is not for them, perhaps after they don't renew, we should contact them again asking why and what the club could do for them. Is that something that could be asked of the chapters to make that contact? It would be a bit more personal, especially if the dropout had attended chapter events. Frankly, the changes I would or would not like to see ultimately don't matter as I don't foresee anything that would cause me to let my membership lapse. It is what is or is not appealing to those who give up that matters. Perhaps we can make changes to accommodate that, and perhaps we can't. But if we don't know why they quit, then all of posting here is conjecture and posturing. I don't pretend to have the answers...I'm not so much a "doer" as a "thinker", much to the detriment of house repairs and Buick restoration.

On a side note, the Conference Board of Canada has declared the recession over up here. I understand we weren't hit as hard as the USA, but it's a good sign at least. Perhaps things will start looking up and folks' finances will improve to where any memberships dropped due to belt-tightening will be picked up.

I guess I have another question. In allowing non-members to attend National Meets (admittedly at a higher cost), are we shooting ourselves in the foot? I can see the potential of selling someone on the experience and camaraderie / fellowship, but is that the last we see of them? If they don't join as a result of attending a National, are we charging them enough? I can definitely see it as a double-edged sword.

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I've just gotten my renewal letter from the BCA. It's setting on my desk awaiting my decision but I'm pretty sure it's final resting place will be the waste basket. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is the dues increase to $50. Add to this my disinterest in later year cars of any make, and the relative "sameness" of every issue of the Bugle and it's a fatal combination for the club. The "sameness" of every issue of Hemmings Classic Car has also sealed it's fate.

Sorry, BCA. But there it is......................Bob

Bob (and others), you just don't get it. It is not about the Bugle, the cars, judging...it is about the great people you will meet at club meetings, meets, and through this forum. Sure, the cars are the catalyst that brings us together with similar interests. Don't wait for the perfect Bugle or meeting to turn you on, but make it happen. Do something for the club and others. Make it happen for them with encouragement or just some good conversation. I like my 55's and enjoy talking endlessly about them, but also like talking to the guy who has an original 76 or to someone who squeezed a 455 into a 48 or an explanation of brass era transmissions.

Before I went to my first national meet I envisioned the club as a bunch of snobs that would not give a second look at me or my project...that idea couldn't have been farther from the truth. I also think our current leadership is the best yet and deserve to hear our ideas for a better club, not just gripes about how your needs are not met.

The other alternative is to cover your cars in a locked garage and sit at home like a hermit. Don't do that, show someone how to weld a new floor into a rusty convertible.

Willie

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I'm not leaving the old car/restoration hobby, Willie, I'm just not renewing my membership in BCA. I agree with everything you cite as positive with the hobby, and I will contiue to enjoy those aspects of it. The point I was trying to make was that the BCA was just not adding to my enjoyment of the hobby, at least not $50 worth.

While I've restored and continue to show my 2 Buicks I'm not "married" to Buick and all things Buick. While I very much enjoyed the Buick Nats that I attended there are not enough of them, close enough, to keep me satisfied.

That left the magazine as my primary benefit of BCA membership. It took a few years but I noticed I gradually went from studying, to reading, to skimming, and finally to just glancing at the Bugle. In thinking about it I came to the conclusion that there was very little "new" or informitive in the mag to hold my interest.

That other folks are happy with the mag I have no doubt. I can only report on what is true for me.

Again I am not throwing stones at the BCA, the mag, it's officers or members. I'm certain they are putting in long, often un recogized hours for the club.

I'm only reporting that, for me, there was just not enough bang for the buck, especially at $50 a pop.

So, please don't shoot the messenger I'm only reporting this as input to the officers on one member's satisfaction with his club experiance.

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gsjohnny, whether or not you and/or others who have already been "playing Buicks" for quite some time might desire to join/rejoin the BCA can depend upon how happy you are with your part of the Buick hobby at this time . . . or in the future. Some vehicle enthusiasts, single-marque or otherwise, sometimes don't really see the need to join a national club of their favored marque of vehicle(s). This is fine, depending upon several issues and orientations.

Of course, there's "the network" which could be tapped into. If you might be in a locale where there is an active vehicle hobby population, you can probably find everything you need on your own . . . or at least for the more popular Mustangs or Chevies and sometimes, Buicks. If you regularly read Hemmings Motor News and use it as a resource, then you can augment the locally-available resources as needed. Doing things this way, plus knowing many local vehicle enthusiasts, meeting many of them at weekend cruise events, can usually fulfill your needs for "the network" (although local in nature), but a network more generalized rather than specifically "Buick". In this scenario, you can probably meet all of your perceived needs locally without the need for a national club's membership.

Also, in this scenario, things are helped along if the particular Buick you might have is generally supported by several national-level restoration parts vendors, as Year ONE or similar. This makes things you might need pretty available and easy to get. Just make a phone call, order online, "wave plastic", and things happen. As long as things are easy to do or obtain, the need for a national marque club entity can be decreased.

IF, on the other hand, you have a Buick that people might not readily recognize (think "non-muscle car", out of the mainstream of "known" Buicks to the masses), then the need to be tied into a Buick-only network usually increases. Many parts might not be readily available through the restoration parts network, making the use of specific sources advantageous--specific sources which usually do not advertise in mainstream publications and/or are known by "word of mouth" of national club entity members. Or if your Buick might have some unique feature/option specific to a narrow band of model years of Buicks (almost everybody can decode "DynaFlow", but what about "Self-Shifter"?). Eventually, you'll end up understanding "Why" becoming a part of "The Buick Network" and membership in the BCA (or similar for other vehicle brands) are good investments for you.

Some vehicle enthusiasts like to read about the history of their favored marque. A somewhat natural curiousity which can be a costly curiousity. As many in the BCA have noticed, our current Editor of "The Bugle" is passionate about Buicks and their history. In EVERY issue, there is at least one model/year of Buick which is showcased or covered "in-depth". To get this came level of information on the open market, it would take much more financial dedication than the cost of ONE year's membership in the BCA and a local chapter! That's just to get to what's generally available, not counting the massive collection of Buick pictures (AND explanations of intricacies of variations of particular model year's running production changes NOT covered anywhere else than in "The Bugle" or possibly a Buick parts book printed when that particular vehicle was reasonably new--things you had to have known about when they were happening rather than what was generally perceived to be correct, in general rather than specific). In MANY cases, unless you know the history of how Buick (and other car companies operated), you might not have a really true understanding of how your vehicle came to be as it was OR why it was the way it was when it was new. It is these unique insights which can enhance the ownership experience of ANY vehicle . . . IF you might care to really know about them.

So, gsjohnny (and others), it is completely possible for you to enjoy your Buicks "on your own" (so to speak) and also be a devoted Buick enthusiast in a sea of "Other Brands". This is generally easier to do in a larger metro area than in a more remote venue (even in a country other than the USA). Some just do not desire to be a part of a car club entity, at ANY level, which I know DOES exist and I do respect their orientations. On the other hand, though, by observation, it makes things much more fun if you're a part of a local club group that is focused on ONE brand of vehicle or, in the case of some, ONE particular manufacturer's vehicles. Being with others of similar vehicular orientations just makes things much more fun--by observation and personal experiences. NOT to forget about local parts sources and repair expertises!!! OR mentoring!!!!

So . . . if you might perceive that you're plenty pleased with your current status of not being in the BCA (or similar), that's great and I'm glad you're happy with your "status quo". But I have also observed that, at some time in the ownership of an older vehicle, there usually is ONE or more times that being able to easily tap into a brand/marque-specific information network is necessary if you're having some trouble getting some issues resolved. THIS is where you need to obtain some credible information rather than information "adapted" to the brand of vehicle you have--EVERY vehicle, and brand thereof, has some idiosyncracy in design/operation/repair which does NOT cross over with any other brand of vehicle and CANNOT be "fixed like a Chevy or Ford" and it be right. Getting through these frustrating situations is where being a BCA member (and local chapter member) can usually get you the information you need to "get it right" and also maximize your pleasure and enjoyment of your Buick. Of course, in order to get to these AACA-hosted forums, you would have had to have had some existing knowledge of them in the first place. NOT TO FORGET the BCA's Technical Advisors for specific vehicles!!!!!

Several years ago, in a noted GM-oriented website, a poster noted that he didn't need OnSTAR as he already had a cell phone. If he needed to make a call, it was laying on the seat next to him, he noted. On the surface, that's good, but that's not all OnSTAR is there for. I replied that in the case of a collision, his loose cell phone would usually NOT be on the seat next to him, but some place else (i.e., floor, under the seat, out the window), which would mean it would not be "at his side" or in easy reach to make a quick 911 call (by reflex action). Sure, OnSTAR is there to make hands-free phone calls with, but it's the additional automatic functions that put value into the yearly subscription . . . as in AUTOMATIC crash response inquiry calls to the vehicle and calls to your local 911 responders.

Just as with an OnSTAR subscription, a BCA membership comes with a built-in support network whose value can't be realized UNTIL you might need it . . . not to mention the great magazine that "The Bugle" is OR capabilities to be intimately involved in the annual BCA National Meets (and all which that might include!) plus local and regional BCA group activities.

A Buick enthusiast can exist without the BCA and have an enjoyable time of Buick ownership, but there's going to be some time when "something extra" is desired or needed . . . which IS the BCA in this case.

Regards,

NTX5467

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NTX5467, your post sums up the best reasons to belong to the BCA. I have been a member for quite a while and have enjoyed the Bugle and all the support that is a available from the club, especially the technical advisors. "The Old Guy" (Joe Taubitz) helped me solve a complicated problem with my 40 Roadmaster. It was jumping out of high gear when I let off the gas. He was correct in his assessment of the problem in every detail. Thanks Joe, the car is now fixed and I have been enjoying driving it with its newly rebuilt engine. The forum is something I look forward to everyday. I also joined my local club "Buick Owners of Maryland" (BOOM) and have met some great friends and Buick enthusiasts that have helped me in getting my 40 restored.

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Hear Hear Willis!

NTX put it together - I am in a mid-sized metro area (on the order of 750,000 population). There are a few local Buick guys other than me, but we have limited local information and support. The BCA offers that network, not to mention Buick-specific advertising targeted to other Buick lovers.

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As an owner of another brand GM pre-war auto I got into this hobby a few years back. I was very upset as trying to get information and help was impossible. I was asked to join their national group many times and thought what a waste of time. Then the Buick came along and people in the Buick club are so helpful and supportive it was like a different world! After some time I joined the BCA and have never looked back. The BCA is the best thing going for Buick owners!!! I look forward to the Buggle every month as I read it cover to cover and really enjoy the articles. I don't belong to any local chapter as I live in the middle of no-where. I have the BCA and my PC and I feel more welcome than I ever did with brand X. Buick people are special and the BCA is tops.

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