- Written by Todd Moning
Existing members spreading the word about FMCA has always been the greatest source of new members for the association. No one has spread the word more than Jack and Belle Schneiker, L2150, of Rogue River, Oregon.
Since joining FMCA in 1968, the Schneikers have recruited 1,737 FMCA member families. That puts them high atop FMCA’s Membership Club, which consists of FMCA members who have recruited other motorhome owners to join FMCA.
The association awards lapel pins when members reach certain recruitment levels, and a special watch upon the 100th recruitment. The Schneikers received all the lapel pins oh-so-many years ago, and the watch in the early 1980s. But Jack and Belle never cared much about lapel pins and watches; they simply want others to enjoy motorhoming as much as they do. “The best way to do that,” Jack said, “is through FMCA membership.”
Involved in FMCA
The Schneikers live and travel full-time in their 10th motorhome, a 40-foot Prevost Le Mirage XL that they’ve owned for five years. (“You have a lot of room, all these bays,” Jack said. “I do all the designing and get everything just as I want it.”) Through the years, Jack has served on FMCA’s Governing Board, President’s Council and many special committees. He’s been the national director of the Prevost Prouds for more than 20 years.
The Schneikers, who divide their time between Rogue River and Tucson, Arizona, belong to seven chapters: Coast to Coasters, Elk International, Northwest Bus Nuts, Pipe Dreamers, Prevost Prouds, Roadtrek International and One Hundred Plus. Members are eligible to join the One Hundred Plus chapter if they recruit 100 or more members. The chapter currently has 24 member families.
With their experience and enthusiasm, Jack and Belle have been successful at “selling” FMCA wherever they’ve gone.
Showing off FMC magazine
Recruiting members isn’t difficult, Jack said, because FMCA offers so much without costing much. “People want to know, ‘If I join, what do I get out of it? What does it cost?’ I tell them $35 dollars a year, but $45 for the first year. That’s a better deal than they expected. They wonder how come it’s only $35 and you give out a magazine like we do. Take a look at the magazine — that in itself is worth $35 a year. Take a look at all the other things we get, and it really adds up.”
The first thing the Schneikers often do when approaching potential members is to give them a copy of Family Motor Coaching magazine. “That’s the number-one benefit, I think,” Jack said.
At FMCA conventions, they used to gather up any extra magazines they could find and store them in their coach. Then they’d drive to Rogue River State Park and other parks and pass out magazines. “It’s amazing how many people, just by getting a magazine, fill out the application inside and turn it in,” Jack said.
“Of course, the other thing we’d do is talking,” Belle said. “Whenever we’d stop somewhere, we’d find out who’s not an FMCA member. If we didn’t see a goose egg [FMCA’s membership emblem] on a coach, then we’d go over and talk to them and tell them about FMCA.”
Recruiting in bulk
Most of their recruitments stem from helping to form chapters composed of motorhomers with a common interest or of owners of the same coach brand. However, a fair number of their recruitments resulted from encounters with non-members at campgrounds and from chats with travelers passing by their two-acre lot in Rogue River.
“Just a few weeks ago, a fellow happened to come by our lot,” Jack said. “We were talking and he has a Safari motorhome. I said, ‘You ought to join FMCA, and if you like, join the Safari chapters.’” The man did, Jack said.
Despite FMCA’s long list of benefits, enticing members to join has had its obstacles. “You get a pretty good response from most people,” Jack said. “Sometimes the lady might be interested in joining. But the man might say, ‘I’m not a club joiner.’ That might be the only time you lose somebody. Usually you can get them to try it.”
That’s where the follow-up comes in. The Schneikers often send a new member a note welcoming them and encouraging them to participate in FMCA. “If you get them into a chapter, then they get a chapter newsletter so they know what’s going on,” Jack said. “But, of course, the main thing is to get them out to a chapter rally.”
Another FMCA benefit that Jack and Belle promote in their recruitment efforts is FMCA conventions — the Schneikers have attended all but two. “All the different programs we have at a convention…so many things are going on,” Jack said. “There’s something for everyone, whether it’s shopping for coaches or for all the things that commercial people bring. A lot of information is offered.”
The early days
The Schneikers always have been proactive supporters of FMCA growth and chapter membership, even when some FMCA officials favored more conservative growth and a smaller membership. “In the 1970s we started being real active in recruiting,” said Jack, a retired president of sales and marketing for International Travel in Tucson, Arizona.
In the mid-1970s, when the association began to accept chapters named for a coach brand, Jack and Belle worked to organize several of them, and didn’t stop there.
In 1976 at FMCA’s first winter convention, in Harlingen, Texas, they helped establish the Converted Coach and Wild Goose chapters. Around this time, they were also generating interest in forming a Revconeers chapter for owners of Revcon motorhomes. The Revconeers were chartered in 1977, in Syracuse, New York, with 87 coaches.
Jack and Belle helped to organized the Prevost Prouds in 1980 and Roadtrek International in 1993. “Every time we started a chapter, I would wind up as secretary/treasurer,” Belle said. “I’d do all of the typing, handle all the phone calls, do all the record keeping.”
The Schneikers also helped to recruit members in 1976 to buy the national office building in Cincinnati, Ohio. Those members contributed $500 and became Life Members, distinguished by the letter L before their membership numbers.
Sticking with FMCA
Retaining members is more challenging than recruiting them, Jack said. He points to chapter membership as key in that regard. “Chapters are our lifeline. Some of the most loyal people in FMCA are people who belong to a chapter. Even if a new member gets acquainted with a half-dozen people, that keeps them active.”
It’s also important to put new members to work in some capacity at an FMCA rally, Jack said. “They may only work with one or two people on a parking crew, but that’s one or two contacts that they’ve made. You’ve got to get them interested in something. I always say, put ’em to work.”
Members who participate in FMCA are more likely to renew their memberships, he said. “Ask any rally master or rally committee member about putting together a rally, and you get the common refrain, ‘We couldn’t have done it without the volunteers.’ FMCA offers many volunteer opportunities at different levels. Members can lead committees or just pitch in where needed.”
Pitching in where needed is what Jack and Belle have been doing as FMCA members for more than 30 years. Jack has been involved in all phases of family membership and commercial activities on the chapter and national levels.
“I haven’t stopped yet. My wife said it’s time for us to retire and let other people do things. Well, we do. I encourage everybody.”
Editor's Note: Jack Schneiker passed away April 1, 2011. He was 87.