By Dan Gyoerkoe, Executive Director. Group photo above by Forrest Bryant, Heartland Classics Chapter.
Upon arrival, I was told the Classics Cruisin’ weekend at Table Rock Lake was a “7-pound” event. So, I jumped right in starting with the Welcome Reception Thursday night and a wonderful dinner at the Rock Lane Resort. This was my first visit to the Heartland Classics Chapter.
Friday morning I led a “town hall” style meeting with 50+ ACBS members in attendance. To kickoff the meeting I briefly spoke about 6 topics, 1) creating awareness of ACBS and the hobby using social media and the ACBS website, 2) achieving a balanced budget at the national level, 3) services and resources for ACBS Chapters, 4) membership recruitment and retention, 5) shortage of volunteers, and 6) challenges for the hobby (time, interest, and money). It was a very interactive meeting and I really appreciated the enthusiasm of the participants. The Classics Cruisin’ event attracted people from nine states and five different ACBS chapters.
At the national level, we are now analyzing the membership data in a new way thanks to new board member, Rob Cassell (SoCal Chapter) and an application called Tableau. I shared with the group that in 2014 584 new people joined ACBS and only 223 are still active (38%). We have two significant challenges in trying to grow ACBS and the hobby, 1) aging membership and 2) retention. The national office will begin sharing the new membership data with all of the ACBS Chapters very soon. During the meeting we spent some time talking about ways to make new members feel welcomed and how to retain new members.
Next on the agenda, a big breakfast at the Floating Café, a local favorite which did not disappoint. The rest of the day was spent on the water with an afternoon stop at the Big Cedar Lodge for a late lunch. I enjoyed my first boat ride in a Chris Craft Cobra with owner/captain Dan Diehl. Dan is the second owner of the 1955 21-foot Cobra. The first owner, a Chris Craft dealer, had replaced the original factory motor by calling a friend that owned a Ford dealership and ordering a 427 Interceptor motor. The horsepower nearly doubled from the original motor and it truly feels like a sportscar on water. The first owner also added fiberglass to the bottom. The rest of the boat is original. I have been around a lot of boats in “show” condition, but I thought this mostly original Cobra was very cool.
On the return trip to Rock Lane Resort, I joined Don and Kathy Parker on their 1965 17-foot Carver Commander. One of the “perks” of my job is the opportunity to ride in a variety of boats when I visit ACBS Chapters.
The boat captains and passengers were ready to push off by 8:30 Saturday morning for another meal, breakfast at the Big Cedar Lodge. I joined Alex Barry in his 1984 Cobalt CS7. Alex spent most of his career at Cobalt and still works part-time in marketing/sales and providing an orientation to new owners during the delivery of the company’s larger boats.
On the return trip from Big Cedar Lodge to Rock Lane Resort, I joined Dan Diehl one more time in his Cobra for a photo shoot with Forrest Bryant. Saturday afternoon the Heartland Classics Chapter hosted a boat show at the Rock Lane Marina featuring seventeen different manufacturers. The spectators really seemed to enjoy the variety of boats.
With nearly 800 miles of shoreline and numerous coves, rivers, and places to stop, the boating is great fun.