Change has come to our industry and our lives. No business has been immune from the effects of our nation’s shifting landscape. Like many of you, the Western Carwash Association has had to re-vision its purpose, focus on core essentials, and find ways to succeed in the “New Normal.”
As executive director of the California Travel Industry, I guided a similarly affected industry association through turbulent waters the past few years. Looking ahead, the path is still challenging, but those challenges will provide opportunities for organizations that are willing to reach out and grab them.
In the past year our incredible staff and amazing volunteers have accomplished huge strides in cementing the Western Carwash Association’s position as a powerful regional industry organization. As the WCA has grown in both size and influence, it has become a leader for education, political advocacy and trade show conventions. Stepping into my new role as WCA executive director, I’m committed to building on that foundation.
WCA Membership Coordinator Christina Shupe and our committees are leveraging partnerships with regulatory agencies such as the Department of Industrial Relations. April 8 will bring the first of our new member events addressing employment law education in Southern California, quickly followed by a meeting June 10 in northern California.
Networking and business development events in our 11 other member states are also at the forefront of our planning. In 2010 the WCA will roll out an expanded schedule of events at our Annual Convention & Tradeshow. We’re building on last year’s success and already looking into exciting changes for 2011.
“Our association must move forward just as our personal businesses must — by letting go of our assumptions and keeping a sharp eye out for opportunities to improve,” said Bill Carbonel, WCA president.
Bill’s comment is representative of how we are approaching the management of WCA and what we offer our members. I believe the association must provide a solid return on investment for all our members. However, just as each business is unique, the reasons for joining or maintaining membership in WCA vary. For this reason we must offer a variety of benefits to our members.
It’s really a business decision. Do the tangible benefits our members receive justify the time or money spent to be involved in this organization? We are very interested in hearing from those in the field. What can we provide collectively that individuals cannot do for themselves or at least provide a value for them? The statement that there is “strength in numbers” really does ring true for trade associations.
I have had the opportunity to have my first board meeting and can tell you that you are being led by a group of talented volunteers. They are looking at ways to provide more services and increased benefits while trimming expenses wherever possible.
Our goal is to continue to grow the organization, even during these financially trying times. Challenges face us every day — economic, social and personal. WCA leadership is committed to addressing our members’ concerns. That’s why we’ve committed to reaching out when others are pulling back.
2010 will see a growth in our member activity offerings. We haven’t wasted any time in ramping up this year, and the resulting Greater Phoenix Car Wash Tour received a tremendously positive response from attendees and industry suppliers. A second Car Wash Tour is coming this summer and will most likely occur in Washington or Colorado.
Personally, I feel like I’m returning to my roots. As a past business owner, I have a great amount of respect for the value a trade association can bring to its industry and its membership. I look forward to working with the WCA Board of Directors, members and other industry leaders to move the Western Carwash Association forward by offering the resources and education our operators need.
I bring to WCA 30 years of association management experience, including tenures with the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, California Peace Officers Association, California Police Chiefs Association and California Nursery and Garden Centers. I have continued to invest in my nonprofit management education and have been recognized as a member of an elite group of professionals dedicated to superior association management as a certified association executive (CAE).
I’m looking forward to the future, to the relationships we will build, the challenges we meet and the opportunities that present themselves. Strong partnerships and a balanced perspective will lead to our success.
Ross Hutchings is executive director of the Western Carwash Association and a certified association executive (CAE). Association management is a family passion; Ross’ wife Carol (executive director) and son Michael (executive assistant) manage an international nonprofit association. In addition to raising six children, Hutchings enjoys golf, scuba diving, gardening and travel. A native of Sacramento, Calif., Ross, Carol and their daughter reside in Roseville, Calif.