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Frustrated with the VCA

Discussion in 'RT/10 and GTS Discussions' started by slaughterj, Oct 13, 2003.

  1. jimandela

    jimandela Enthusiast

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    Chris,
    Well said.

    I look forward to answers to all of these questions soon from the current administration.

    Jim
     
  2. GTS Dean

    GTS Dean Viper Owner

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    Having been an early regional president, I will concur with the observation that the ZD and DAL positions have not served the organization well. When the regional presidents met, they were all equal, and all very close to the local members' sentiments. IMO, it worked nicely in the early years, not so in recent times. When my members asked "who is this Maurice - Gary - Tony - Steve guy anyway?" I could answer straight-up and didn't feel like there was much stratification in the ranks. Region presidents were directly hooked to the 3 national officers, with no buffers. Got a problem? I get the list and talk or e-mail directly to the 3 top guys within a day or two. Region presidents know which guys in their "zones" (loosely defined) to call for zone-type deals. I believe it's time to return to a simpler, more direct and representative structure.

    Frankly, I don't like the fact that past region presidents aren't allowed access to the national business office forum. I know who/how this outfit started and what we have today doesn't bear much semblance to the original.

    :usa:
     
  3. OutThere

    OutThere Enthusiast

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  4. Birvini

    Birvini Enthusiast

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    This might be a good stepping stone to communicate clearly between members and Directors. Prior to the Zone Rendezvous, many people asked, "What zone do I belong to?" The folks who asked that question on this board included local presidents. I might be wrong, but I do not remember an answer. As Chris pointed out, many members do not know their zone directors, or which zone they belong to.

    Certainly Directors can map out their zones to "their" members. It's not much to ask for in my opinion.
     
  5. CAS

    CAS Enthusiast

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    Re:

    Chris, terrific post, thank you.
     
  6. Wing King

    Wing King Viper Owner

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    I’ve been hoping that one of the 4 national officers would see this thread and respond first. As a long time VCA member, former Region President, organizer of numerous VCA events and activities, Zone Director, and member of the board of directors...... I have some REALLY strong feelings about these issues, but I will only speak for myself. However, consider me to be ”taking the badge off”. I’m going to give you my two cents as just a plain old VCA member.

    Ten seconds on background history. First, I have lost count of what I call the “sparklers” we’ve had in the VCA since it’s beginning. You all should know what I’m talking about. They buy a car, come to a few meetings, get VERY active.......... and 6 months..... a year....... two years later........ they are gone, whether their car is sold or not. Second, God help us all that we survived the way our VCA structure used to function. You have no idea how many complaints and problems there were because of all the little regional “kingdoms”, many controlled by car dealers and other parties for their own interests. We need to keep this history in mind.

    Given that background, I’m going to tell you what I want to know about an individual before electing them as a VCA officer.

    How long have they been “around”?
    Do they have some kind of history for attending and supporting all types of VCA events?
    Do they work well in a “team” environment with others?
    Do they possess “management” skills?
    Beyond those skills, can they win friends and influence people? Are they a LEADER?
    Do they have diplomatic and negotiating abilities?
    How well do they handle criticism, or react if there is disagreement?
    Are they willing to work long hours, unpaid, for the benefit of others?
    Do they have any kind of “vested interest” to benefit from being an officer?
    Finally, and perhaps MOST important........ do I believe they are “in it for the LONG term"!?

    I want to see my eventual leader in action! Does that person really understand the nuances and problems involved with leading a region, and possess personality traits that their local members believe are “worthy” of their respect? Should not a person have that background and experience BEFORE leading the whole organization?

    Now, the next step is having somewhat proved themself, they can move up to a higher management position like a ZD or DAL, and join the national board of directors. The good thing here is that they DO have to win ANOTHER election by their PEERS....... being all the other officers of every region in their Zone. Who, other than these people, are qualified to pass judgement for that new kind of responsibility? Do you think any VCA member in a region or Zone...... who would get a ballot........ and who may NEVER have come to a meeting....... or NEVER met any candidate....... should be relied upon to make the decision about who is best suited for that position? I sure don’t.

    Ok, so now they get elected and become a national board member. If they do not already know other members of the board, representing all of THEIR areas, they soon will. If they have further ambition, the next step then involves whether, over time, their fellow board members witness and have the confidence that they have the skills, personality, and general ability to be “elected” as one of the four NATIONAL officers to represent the VCA to both the public, and in the ultra-important relationship with Dodge and DCX. Each term of office is for two years and that's it. The great news is that it gives the REST of the board the chance to see them in action, and essentially “in training”, such that they have time to develop their OWN relationships inside “the hand that feeds us”, and be ready to assume a top leadership role.

    I have absolutely NO interest in electing people to represent MY own VCA membership, that I do not know for a FACT have all the skills and experience I’ve described, and who I can be 100% confident will do their job, to the best benefit of the VCA as a whole!!!!! Sorry, but anyone is going to have to “show me what ya got”....... FIRST..... to get MY vote!

    Now, I know this “chain of progression” probably doesn’t set well in today’s impatient new world........ where the bottom line seems to be “I want it..... and I want it NOW! That’s fine.... this is a free country and we are all entitled to our own thoughts. Is the system we have now perfect?..... No. Can it be improved? Of course, and that will always be the goal. But, as a member, I’m not ready to “throw the baby out with the bath water” just yet!

    However, with all of that said, I do agree that the VCA’s financials should be available to all members that have enough interest to want to see them, and I hope to see that happen without much more delay. I’m sure it will, and a procedure set in place to make it routine for the future. I can tell you that I see them at board meetings and I think they are handled outstandingly. As a board member representing the best interests of the members in my Zone, I am VERY comfortable with what I have seen.

    One last word, and then I’ve got to get some sleep. I witness that the VCA board of directors is VERY concerned about growing new leadership. We NEED fresh talent and new ideas..... and every meeting there is talk about how we can get even MORE people involved..... and willing to volunteer their time and efforts. If anyone wants to become an elected leader in this organization, the only thing standing in your way....... is YOU! If you think only your CAR is a “magic carpet ride” to meeting interesting people and doing cool things...... I will promise you that working for your fellow members presents even far MORE opportunities for fun. Get involved. Show everyone what you can bring to the table. Others will seek you out to lead them. I know that Chris Marshall is one of those members that I want to see leading the VCA in the future, and there are others out there like Chris that have just as much ability, intelligence, and passion. Many don't hang out on the website.... but look for them at your local meetings. And, if you have problems in a particular region, or even Zone, volunteer your efforts to help solve them.
     
  7. joe117

    joe117 Enthusiast

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    You VCA members are being ignored.
    How long will it take before you figure that out.

    All your requests are being ignored. There isn't anything you can do about it within the VCA if the VCA doesn't want to respond.

    What are you going to do, run against them in a club election? Who counts the votes?

    If you all start writing letters to various DC executives about the lack of financial disclosure, you will probably get some results.
     
  8. Supercharged Vipermad

    Supercharged Vipermad Enthusiast

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    Dude, please go post in the right thread! :confused: This topic will stay "ON Topic", or there is no way anything good will come from it. Thank you, thank you very much.
     
  9. Mike Brunton

    Mike Brunton Enthusiast

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    For what it's worth, a few opinions.

    First, I hear what folks are saying about "experience", however I don't think it's all that democratic. Anyone who is old enough can run for elected office, and it's probably a lot more important who becomes mayor or governor than who becomes regional VCA guy.

    Second, the system, as described by some intelligent folks, does seem to make sense. However for the past who-knows number of national officers, there has *always* been a progression from secretary, to treasurere, to vice president, to president. It's just 'the way of things'. I believe all recent presidents have run un-opposed. I have the utmost respect for Joe - he's a great guy! But I remember when he was "running" for office. Being gracious as he is, he didn't say anything about winning or not winning, but others in the club had told me literally months and months prior that "yeah Joe's gonna be president next". The system, as it exists, can either allow selection of qualified leaders from a group comprised of worthy candidates. Or it can serve as a buffer to disintermediate the top guys from the peons. Which of those two things are happening? Well, considering all recent national officers have run un-opposed, it seems the latter.

    The bottom line is that it is *just* a car club, and in the grand scheme of things, should really only be fun and not more. I don't think anyone is really concerned with how the VCA-DC relationship is being handled, because I'm sure most are happy with that. The actual concerns seem to stem from whether there is a "good old boys" club (seems to be) and whether there is any financial mischief afoot (I doubt that, but who knows). Releasing the $$ reports is a very very very important step that should have happened months ago, but I also have a hard time believing the current structure is setup to groom fresh talent for important future leadership roles, but rather to keep a small group of old-timers around rather than sending them off to the knackers yard.

    As a side note, I think there are often positions created for the sole purpose of keeping folks around. I think some of the ZD/DAL roles are this, as well as some of the silly special positions like "web committee member" or whatever they are.

    My .01 after tax.
     
  10. NCVCA

    NCVCA Enthusiast

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    What I should have said is the club doesn't respond well to direct confrontation. You weren't yelling. Sorry for the misstatement.

    I thought our local Prez had the national finances. It was an issue back in the website redesign conflict days and I thought (maybe incorrectly) that a copy was made available.

    Anyway, it looks like there is broad support for National voting for National officers...
     
  11. slaughterj

    slaughterj Enthusiast

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    There is a thread in the Off-Topic section regarding an Official Request for Financials that is over a month old from the original official request therein. Others have posted there that they requested months ago or even last year, with no response. I sent an email to the Treasurer over a month ago, and received no response whatsoever. This doesn't sound very helpful to me. I do like Joe and think he is working on it though.
     
  12. pdmracing

    pdmracing Enthusiast

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    First off how big is the club in total memberships? i am sure it is less than the just one zone of the Porsche club. I was the atlanta president for the pca & we had 1100 members in Atlanta alone. The clubs P&L is posted each year in the club magazine Panorama. Our local budget was over $250,000 & we supplied a p& L to whoever was interested. This caused some grumblings from the usual malcontents that wanted free events & such, but for the most part it was viewed as what it is, a way to keep everyone honest. In the early days of our pca we caught someone embeszzeling 26k$ from one of our track events. As a non profit organization, I believe disclosure is manditory.

    That being said, this is a small club in the grand scheme of things. My region, didnt even have a checking account until I took over. We had many thousands of uncashed checks lying around that were over 2 years old. There was no formal accounting. The prior president insisted on having "elections" for all the club officers, resulting in an absentee board for the most part. This isnt a poularity contest. To be a sucsessful club, you need people who want to work. You also need to get INCLUSIVE not EXCLUSIVE. There are a lot of guys who have been around since the inception & tend to be a little closed in their groups so to speak. You need new blood to keep this momentum rolling as well as the old guard to show us the way.

    Being a club rat for the last 20 years,I have held board positions on the Ferrari Club & PCA as well as VCA. This club has the most manufacturer support by far & despite some hicups here & there it is by far the best club value out there. It dosent mean it cannot be improved. The club internal communication is lacking as well as established policies & procedures for regional & zone management. You would not run a business without these guidelines in place & this club is in the business of growing its membership & enhancing the ownership experiance.
     
  13. slaughterj

    slaughterj Enthusiast

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    Thank you. I was trying to approach this subject with serious discussion rather than "rock throwing," and think that the discussion thus far has largely stayed the course.

    Regarding various comments made herein, it seems that some agree with the byzantine structure of elections, yet in our own country, Schwarzenegger with no political experience can be elected to run California, the 5th largest economy in the world. Somehow I doubt being a National Officer for the VCA requires much more effort than that, such that this complex and nepotistic method of elections is necessary.

    As noted by someone, I have no idea what the Zone Directors or Directors-at-Large are supposed to do. It seems like an artificial construct designed to separate the "common" members of the organization from the "good old boys" running the organization. This perception is further fostered by the continual ignoring of requests by members and general disconnect between National Officers and club members.

    If a person is in a National Office, and cannot or does not adequately perform their duties, they should be removed from that position. The Treasurer seems to be a prime example of this. (I'll try to avoid drawing more parallels between California and the VCA.) Someone should be in that position who is actually willing and able to perform the duties, and not simply there through a "good old boys" progression system to VCA President.

    The overly complex election system is what keeps out the right people, and if the Board commonly discusses the issue of why good people don't step up, they might want to look at this as the problem. But instead, given the past track record, I suspect they'll simply ignore it as well.
     
  14. OutThere

    OutThere Enthusiast

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    bump
     
  15. Supercharged Vipermad

    Supercharged Vipermad Enthusiast

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    OUCH!!!!!! :)
     
  16. JBenko

    JBenko Enthusiast

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    This thread is interesting if for no other reason than it brings out a lot of "old timers". As a past President of the MN chapter I would probably have to say that I agree that the Zones have added an unnecessary level of mgmt that has succeeded only in separating the clubs from the National offices. While I'm on the soap box I'll also say that I've always thought that once the club got to a certain size (as it is now) that we could become more independant from DC. It would be nice to see Viper Magazine become more like Roundel and less like a DC advertisement. I think its also possible that we would be better off if John Thompson (who does almost all of the DC to VCA coordination) worked for the VCA more than it does for DC. As for disclosing finances I can think of absolutely no legitimate reason why the VCA couldn't make the finances public - possibly even here on this site. Somebody give me a reason why not ???
     
  17. Frank Parise

    Frank Parise VCA Venom Member Venom Member

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    Since slaughterj started the discussion, perhaps we should ask what he was unhappy about in the first place. What types of "positive" changes would you like to see? How can we improve on what we already have? What are you not getting from your membership that you would like to receive?
     
  18. Cris

    Cris Enthusiast

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    I appreciate the parallels to government. Can you imagine a government where the people elect city mayors. Then the mayors appoint the representatives. Then the representatives appoint the governor. All to make sure that the representatives and governor are well trained and capable for their position. Who would the governor be responsive to? Who would the representatives be responsive to? IT was stated that this is similar to the US form of government. I think not.

    What we have is a clear separation of the haves and have nots. How many zone directors and directors at large do we know? I know that none from my region post to the non-administrative portion of this site. They keep all of their comments to the administrative portion of this site. Note that the administrative portion is not visible to the have nots, even if they are VCA members. Since the rest of us cannot see what is shown in the administrative section we are only left to wonder. I would guess the truth about the financials are listed there. That is the specific reasons they are not available. Since we have a board member whose sole responsibility is to maintain the financial aspects of the club you would think that person would post here or respond to direct emails. But no of course not.

    I will not go deep into it here but the treasurer is a member of our local club. And was previously in local club leadership positions as well. The tactics and mannerisms you are witnessing are predictable based on those experiences. WingKing mentioned that these leadership experiences are what the club tenets based their decisions on in selecting the national officers. It must have been a blind faith inquiry as any inquiry would have uncovered the distrust that was present within our local club during the period of time that the zone director and national treasurer were in leadership positions within the local club. This really is deja vu for the Motor City Viper Owners.
     
  19. C O D Y

    C O D Y Enthusiast

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    "[If] we treat them as fellow citizens, they will have a just share in their own government; they will love us, and pride themselves in an union with us. [If] we treat them as subjects, we govern them, and not they themselves; they will abhor us as masters, and break off from us in defiance."

    --Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1786. ME 5:360
     
  20. slaughterj

    slaughterj Enthusiast

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    First and foremost, I would like to receive prompt responsiveness on club matters in general. There appears to be a tendency for the national officers to ignore requests and issues raised by regular members. The request for financials is a glaring example of this problem. Other issues have arisen in the past as well, such as issues regarding the administration of this message board.

    The way this can be improved is by a more streamlined approach to operating the club. This can be done by simplifying the managing structure, such that the Regions exist and have officers, and then there is a National organization with officers. What do zone directors and directors at large even do? If it's a matter of conveying issues to the national officers, this can be done by the individual member with the issue or their regional officers. By reducing the stratification, it makes the national officers more accessible and responsive to the members of the club and their concerns. Additionally, this makes it a more open system compared to the closed one that presently exists, and thus becomes more inclusive of the membership, as well as facilitates putting people in positions in which they will actually perform the duties required by that position.

    This is a car club, not a way to create a "good old boys" club, and should be operated for and by the members, not by a closed-off and unobtainable and unresponsive group of individuals that appear not to share the interests of the club as a whole.
     
  21. Joseph Houss

    Joseph Houss VCA Member - Northeast VCA Member

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    Wow, Great Stuff!

    Yes, once again (please look at the other threads on the financial statement topic) the financials are being prepared as we speak, the big complication is the above mentioned allocation of membership dues ($55 directly to the region, $45 to JRT) which leaves $0 net for National (this part of the financial statement is ready, obviously), but what I would like to disclose to all is how JRT uses the $45 (Viper Mag subscriptions, creative, printing, postage, distribution, ID cards, Customer service, Liability insurance, all other creative for events, Zone rendezvous administration, etc), and that request has been made and JRT is preparing these details. Surely I'm quite confident that JRT is doing LOTS for their modest invoice. Thanks to Fiona, Kim and John Thompson himself who are incredibly dedicated to our (and their) Viper passion.

    Additionally, other inbound revenue has been prepared (Raffle revenue, Web advertising revenue, VCA Notes advertising revenue, Apparel revenue) and outbound expenses (Zone Rendezvous stipends, Regional event stipends, raffle car purchase... YES, we have to BUY these vehicles... including customization expense ... accounting and legal fees, etc).

    It'll all be published, no surprises.

    Additional posts on this topic are quite logical. Let's just say that as is the case with all proposed, and voted upon, adjustments to our VCA organization structure, it's always an experiment. This particular "multi level" outline was taken from the Mercedes Club concept (and most of our bylaws as well), and was done with all good intentions. Our VCA was growing, and the Presidents meetings were becoming incredibly complex to administer, and of course, the expenses became a serious issue.

    In no way was this supposed to separate the membership, nor the Regional Presidents from the top tier. ALL regional Presidents know I can be called directly (and they do), and all members can call me directly (and believe me, many do). We will be initiating new procedures which will hopefully allow the membership and the Regional Presidents know that their work and passion is appreciated.

    I share the same passion with them, and my intentions are to get this Viper Nation to be even closer.

    As many have said, please get involved, at any level, as the hardest part of strengthening this community is to get "Sparklers" (as Kingman has said) that don't burn out before any of their energy has been utilized for bettering the VCA.

    Other honorable mentions:

    VCA National President can only be elected for one concurrent term (avoiding stagnent board of directors)

    National election votes are counted, with witnesses, by JR Thompson. Results of tally's are available, but have never been questioned.

    I was honored by an uncontested election, but in no way was anyone stifled from adding their name to the ballot (Tony Soprano Houss?)
     
  22. OutThere

    OutThere Enthusiast

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    Funny how my company can have 22 employees, concurrent projects in 5 different states and 3 countries, over $6 million in revenue and via something as simple as QuickBooks I can run reports that show; Corp wide P&L; Revenue & Expenses by consultant, by project, by a specified Date Range, etc.... Yet it takes the VCA 3-4 months to provide basic general ledger accounting reports???? Interesting....

    Anything in the bylaws about a membership mandated external audit??
     
  23. slaughterj

    slaughterj Enthusiast

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    Joe, we've met and get along fine, and I don't think anyone's questioning your integrity, but it seems that the organization's structure needs to be revisited, both (1) because there is a lot of dissatisfaction among members and (2) because the board apparently wants to get in new "blood" and ideas. A reorganization of the structure would solve both of these issues.

    I share the concern that "sparklers" can be a problem, but I think what is worse is when people try to have an elitist "club within a club" setup for their own unknown motivations, rather than performing the duties of their position - e.g., the financials request should be being handled by the treasurer. If he is not doing it, what is he doing? I've also had the opportunity to experience the "club within a club" feeling when I was in Detroit this year for the auto show, which was concurrent with the VCA board meeting. While there, it appeared to me that my presence was unsettling to some of those present, and there was a clear vibe that I should not be around those activities. However, it seems to me that any club member should be able to attend (I was not there for that though, I was there for the auto show) if they so desire, to the extent practical for matters to be handled. Therefore, I recognize "sparklers" can be a problem, but it is even worse when people seek out national officer positions for the wrong reasons, i.e., not for improving the club itself, but rather for their own personal reasons like control or "special" access to DC executives. I suspect that if someone is not doing their job as a national officer, it might be because they are in the position for other (wrong) reasons, and a reorganization of the structure including open elections for national officers would go a long ways to fixing this.
     
  24. pj

    pj Enthusiast

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    How would we know if a ZD or DAL wasn't doing their job?

    Is anything being done to "fix" the issues over the implementation of the Web Committee? If not them, who has overall responsibility for the website? Jay?
     
  25. NCVCA

    NCVCA Enthusiast

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    "($55 directly to the region, $45 to JRT) which leaves $0 net for National "

    How is the website paid for?
     
  26. Joseph Houss

    Joseph Houss VCA Member - Northeast VCA Member

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    Slaughter,

    Didn't we have a drink or two together? You were quite the gentleman! I don't recall your presence being of issue to anyone?

    I appreciate your input, and can assure you that Mitch has done his part (P&L) but again, the issue is that we need additional "columns" from JRT... and that is being done.

    As to your comment of "own personal control" or "access to DC execs"... this would be hard to believe (especially in Mitch's case as he is already a highly respect DC employee so has access to everyone at DC), as our "avenues" to DC execs are built through mutual passion and respect for what has been done to enhance the Viper owner experience, and there are many who hold no position with the VCA, but have "Viper passion" who have clear access to the same individuals.

    In other words, the responsibilities significantly outweigh your suggested motives.
     
  27. pdmracing

    pdmracing Enthusiast

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  28. jimandela

    jimandela Enthusiast

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    Joe,
    thank you for your straight forwardness!!!
    I appriciate your efforts to the club.
    best wishes
    Jim
     
  29. slaughterj

    slaughterj Enthusiast

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    Yep, you and I got along fine and we'll have to do it again sometime, but there were other instances at the event...
     
  30. slaughterj

    slaughterj Enthusiast

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