I remember it very clearly. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon in 2004.
It may have been New Years Day. Rick Belfoy, the current club president, called me while I was keeping a couch company and asked if I would be interested in taking over as president of the Gig Harbor Cruisers. I sort of panicked and explained I didn’t live in Gig Harbor. He shared with me it didn’t matter, and I should think about it. I hung up the phone and quickly called former President, Mike Campbell. He was the leader when I joined in 1998. He told me it was a great opportunity to develop leadership skills and the Cruisers were really supportive of the president. He was right. The meetings were well attended at the Gig Harbor Eagles Lodge (Taco Tuesday), and people were engaged. I was a single guy with time on my hands, and a strong desire to be more involved in the community. I thought it over and called Rick later in the week. His sigh of relief was much louder than I expected…I get it now.
I was President of the Gig Harbor Cruisers from January of 2004 to sometime in 2008. It was a good run, and I learned a lot. During my time, ("The Mark Years") our meeting locations changed a few times. We could no longer meet at the Eagles, so Harbor Place at Cottesmore offered us their meeting room for free. It was a nice space, with lots of parking and in theory, that sounded good. But I missed the fact that food was no longer available and my $1 Rainiers at the Eagles were a memory. Without an opportunity to have the dinner and talk, the meetings started to get smaller. At the end of my run, even though our membership numbers were still very strong, our meeting attendance numbers dwindled. Not good. Something needed to change, and it was the perfect time shake things up by stepping aside.
At the time, the club's president also directed the car show. So, to speed up the process of finding a replacement (remember Rick Belfoy’s loud sigh?) I offered to continue to direct the show and make the position of president “seem” more attractive to a potential candidate. Fortunately, John Hopkins signed on and began making some positive changes to rebuild. We moved to a new location that served food and people came back. Under his leadership, it was once again a social club and not just a meeting. We rebuilt the board and got serious about assigning tasks to make sure people weren’t getting burned out. Three presidents, later the club maintains well over 100 members and meetings filling over 40 seats. Pretty cool!
The club is in a good place right now. Membership is strong, and people are enthusiastic and being involved. Personally, I consider this club a part of my extended family. I’ve learned a great deal about cars, leadership, and life from many of the people who have called themselves Cruisers. The experiences I have had with cars and within the community simply would not be possible had I chosen not to join. (That decision is fun story I’ll share another time). I’m still learning and reaping the benefits of my membership by being surrounded by smart, good people.
Now if we can get $1 Rainiers back on the menu that would be fantastic.
See you on the road! Mark