As we approach the 28th annual Dixie Run on September 25-28, 2014, I want to share some perspectives on the challenges, changes and our path forward for our association. As many of you know from your local club level, our membership numbers have been shrinking and we have not had a clear vision of our role in this off road community. Your current Board of Directors have been working hard to refocus and rebrand our association as we attempt to develop a relevant voice to this community. Our communications have dramatically improved through the new www.sfwda.org web page, the message board postings, an aggressive social media posture and a building email distribution network. We however will continue to improve our communications across all these channels.
The fundamental question we are all challenged to answer is “Why Southern?” Another critical question has been “What is Southern doing for me?” As agreed in our March, 2014 SFWDA meeting, we cannot continue to do the same things in the same old way. A critical premise to a developing strategy is we need to embrace all off road enthusiasts. This includes our highly modified rigs to the exploding entry level enthusiast. As such SFWDA needs to define its role across these varied groups of enthusiasts in order to achieve sustainability into the future and be a relevant voice. This premise is the core driver of all our energies today.
The second premise to a developing strategy is our engagement with the off road business communities. We are an attractive audience based solely on the numbers we represent through our membership. The critical assumption is we need to build member numbers and then the business community will further support our initiatives.
Your current SFWDA Board of Directors has a number of positives to build on in these first short 6 months. Included are the introduction of the SFWDA Grant Program, a tool for you to use in your home community to support our core SFWDA values; a new SFWDA web page; new communications across three channels to all our members and followers; developing a new, low cost membership structure and a sustainable membership management system; building a member discount network; an active social media program; and emerging discussions with a number of new groups across our region.
The next challenge we face will be the building of a Leadership Council to more fully represent you, the clubs and members. Jeremy Rose and I will be working on this in the coming weeks. Our goal is to identify two key leaders from each club and use these leaders to be our communication conduits. These key leaders will be able to provide input and feedback to the Board of Directors through their participation. As we move forward with this framework, we further will need to revisit our bylaws and revise to reflect our current operations.
The last challenge we face will be the implementation of a sustainable membership management system that will support our clubs and members. We currently have agreed on a framework going forward and now must assure we can deliver in the future. I am certain we will have some further refinement of this framework. The single focus we have is to create a sustainable path forward.
Help us answer the critical question of “Why Southern?” A number of our clubs already have plans in motion for 2015 including Overly’s St. Jude’s 4 Wheeling for a Cure, KOR Wounded Warriors project, GBR RTP Beasley Knob project, Carolina Trail Blazers Uwharrie National Forest projects and others. As we move forward on this path let’s all work together to make our voice relevant in all the off-roading communities.
Thanks and see you at Dixie Run.
SFWDA Calendar events for balance of year:
- September 5-7, 2014 Pickens County Jeepfest, Jasper, GA Crawl for the Kids
- September 13, 2014 CTB 43rd Fun Caravan, Eldorado, NC
- September 25-28, 2014 Dixie Run 28, Golden Mountain Park, Sparta, TN
- October 18, 2014 UORTC Fall Jamboree, Eldorado, NC
- November 1, 2014 SFWDA Trials Training Center Meet and Ride, Sequatchie, TN
- November 1-7, 2014 – Tread Lightly Annual Meeting and SEMA 2014
- December 6, 2014 SFWDA Annual Meeting and Leadership Council, Oak Ridge, TN