Our Chapter is now over twenty-eight years old!
How does an organization like ours get started? How did it grow from over 800 members in the first three years as a FMCA orgainization to presently being the number one in membership of any chapter in FMCA? Who were the people who made it happen? Why did we become part of the Family Motor Coach Association? How was the support of Roadtrek Motorhomes (formerly Home and Park Motorhomes) obtained?
These questions and others will be addressed in a two-part series beginning in this issue. In Part 1, Fred and Florence Ritter tell how an idea developed into the Home & Park Club of Ontario and the beginnings of the Roadtrek Chapter. Jack and Belle Schneiker relate how the Chapter became part of FMCA and how corporate support was developed. The information in Part 1 was obtained from articles originally published in the Sept/Oct & Nov/Dec 1995 issues of Roadtrek News .
In 1986, when Fred and Florence Ritter went to Vancouver, BC to attend Expo, they saw several Roadtreks on their way out and back. They thought how nice it would be to have a “motorhome club” for Ontario Roadtrekers, so in December, Fred and Florence went to Home & Park Motorhomes in Kitchener and spoke to the Hanemaayers and Ted Fitzgerald about starting a club. It was suggested that the Ritters design a brochure and Home & Park would mail it to their dealers and to all Roadtrek owners they had on file. While the Hanemaayers thought forming a club was a great idea, they did not want to be involved with running it.
A brochure was sent out and within a couple of months 45 inquiries about the club were received. By May, there were 18 members. The first rally was held at Heidi’s Campground in Orillia, ON with 32 Roadtreks. Later, in 1987, there were 56 members.
In 1992, a Winter Rally was held at the Arcadia KOA for Home & Park Club members who spent time in Florida. A Floridian Roadteker became very interested in what the Ontario Club was doing and suggested that Florida should also have a club. Fred said he would talk to Home & Park Motor-homes about getting one started, but after gathering all the information and passing it on to this person, the Floridian wrote back that he could not handle the task of forming a club.
In the fall, before going to Florida, Fred made out an invitational brochure to form a Florida club and took it to Home & Park for mailing. Fred informed Jeff Hanemaayer that he would try starting the club himself and then get someone in the area to take over. Jeff suggested that NC, SC, GA be included with FL and called the Southeastern Roadtrek Club. By the end of December Fred had 24 inquiries.
A rally was planned for mid-February 1993, the 24 interested Roadtrekers were contacted, and 17 came to the rally. While setting up things for the rally, Fred contacted Home & Park to inform them of what was happening. Jeff mentioned that a Roadtrek club was also getting started in Tucson, AZ , that it was going to be a chapter of FMCA, and that Fred might want to contact them. Fred then called Marion Saniford, who was a Tucson Roadtrek dealer, and she sent information about their club and registration forms.
At the February rally, discussions were held on whether to continue as a Southeast Club or go with the new Roadtrek FMCA International Chapter. It was decided to join in with the new organization in Tucson. Two interested couples volunteered to help Fred and Florence with the Southeastern Division: Will and Betty Snowberger and Charlie and Gerry Greene.
In 1968, Jack and Belle Schneiker joined FMCA and became active members in the organization. In 1991, they purchased a Roadtrek to use as an all-purpose tow car for their Prevost motorcoach. While taking their Roadtrek on a six-week trip to Alaska, they met a number of Roadtrek owners who indicated an interest in forming a Roadtrek owners’ club and possibly becoming a product chapter in FMCA.
Jack decided that if a club was to be formed, the next step was to start talking with Home & Park and some of the Roadtrek dealers to find a chapter sponsor. The Schneikers’s experience with FMCA showed statistically that chapter members from a “product chapter” are not only good prospects for future sales, but also prove to be some of the best frontline salesmen for the manufacturer and their dealers. In addition, the Schneikers also knew that for continued growth and membership activity, a “product chapter” needs some corporate support financially from the manufacturer on a national level, and dealer support on a local or regional level.
As an FMCA Membership Coordinator specializing in organizing “product chapters,“ Jack met with Jeff Hanemaayer, President of Home & Park, and a corporate support agreement of $25.00 per active member was reached.
In the fall of 1992, after talking with several Roadtrek dealers, Sandy’s West RV Center agreed to be the sponsoring dealer for “Roadtrek International.” Jack and Belle agreed to help dealers David and Marion Sandiford in organizing the Roadtrek owners into a viable FMCA Chapter.
In Janaury 1993, the Schneikers and the Sandifords, along with Jeff Hanemaayer’s support and assistance, put together an invitational letter to Roadtrek owners, inviting them to join as Charter Members in the formation of the Roadtrek Club International and to join FMCA. The club became an active Chapter of FMCA on February 26, 1993.
In Part 2, David and Marion Sandiford share their input from the perspective of first Chapter officers, along with others, up to the time of our meeting and Chapter election at the FMCA Convention at Blacksburg, VA in August 1993. This information was obtained from an article originally published in the Jan/Feb 1996 issue of Roadtrek News. Denis Foley, our Chapter President from 1993 – 1999, then filled in some of the history since August 1993.
The David and Marion Sandiford became a Roadtrek dealer in March 1988. Class B’s were not new to the RV market, but they were becoming increasingly popular. Roadtrek was way out front of the competition with its unique design and high quality.
As the number of Roadtrek owners increased, the Sandifords had a desire to form a local club consisting entirely of Roadtreks. In the fall of 1992, they began talking to Jack and Belle Schneiker, picking their brains as to how to get started. Jack suggested they not limit the club to just local owners and since the Sandifords had been long-time Commercial members of FMCA, why not form a chapter under FMCA which would be available to all Roadtrek owners. Following extensive meetings with the Schneikers and phone conversations with Home & Park Motorhomes, a plan of operation was developed with the theme….JOIN THE NEW ROADTREK CLUB INTERNATIONAL!
In January of 1993, with the Schneikers and the assistance of Home & Park Motorhomes, an invitational letter was mailed to Roadtrek owners to cordially invite them to join other Roadtrek owners as charter members in the formation of “Roadtrek Club International” and to join FMCA. We listed some of the many things an owner's club can offer it's members and with our common bond as Roadtrek owners how it could promote fellowship and enrich our way of life. We also included some of the many benefits and services we would gain as members of a chapter officially chartered in FMCA.
To get 'the ball rolling,“ David Sandiford agreed to serve as Chairman of the Steering Committee, Belle Schneiker as interim Secretary and Marion Sandiford as interim Treasurer. The response to our membership recruitment letter was overwhelmlng and a good percentage of charter members expressed their interest in helping with running the club.
Early in February 1993, Jack and his committee began contacting members who showed an interest in serving the Chapter and put together a provisional slate of candidates to serve as Executive and Regional officers in the newly proposed Roadtrek Owners’ Club so that he could recommend it for membership as a Chapter of FMCA. He also informed the necessary executives in FMCA that our current membership was growing rapidly and that the consensus was to charter at the FMCA Winter International Convention at the Fairplax in Pamona California, February 1993.
Following coffee and doughnuts at the Bluebird sponsored coffee hour on February 26, 1993, a general meeting of Roadtrek owners was convened to discuss the organization and formation of final details for the Roadtrek International FMCA Chapter. The following were elected as provisional officers: Chapter President, David Sandiford; Secretary, Belle Schneiker; and Treasurer, Marion Sandiford. Belle also agreed to serve as the newsletter editor while Jack, as a member of the FMCA Governing Board, would take care of all the necessary paper work for this new FMCA Chapter and continue with us as the FMCA Membership Coordinator until the club got well established.
The necessary papers were submitted to FMCA and the National Governing Board recognized Roadtrek International as a chapter of the Family Motorcoach Association effective February 26, 1993. The charter was granted in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Family Motorcoach Association.
Belle put our first newsletter together in March of 1993 and sent it out to 125 charter members; by the end of the year there were over 400 charter members.
Shortly after the spring 1993 Roadtrek newsletter was mailed, the question was raised aboutthe possibility of a conflict of interest because the Sanditords were chapter sponsors, provisional officers of Roadtrek International, and owners of a Roadtrek dealership. Even though there had been precedent set in FMCA with both Manufacturer and Dealer personnel serving as officers, they resigned to avoid problems. Jack Schneiker, as chairman of the nominating committee put together a new slate of officers to be voted on at the club’s first regular meeting held at the International FMCA Convention at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia on August 4, 1993. About 18 members were present.
At the first regular Chapter meeting in Blacksburg, Jack Schneiker’s compiled slate of officers was elected, whether present or not, by the Chapter members present. Elected were: National Director – Fred Ritter, Alternate National Director – Denis Foley, President – Denis Foley, Secretary/Treasurer – Belle Schneiker, Executive Secretary – Pat Foley, and Regional Vice Presidents (for nine Chapter Regions). In addition, Jack Schneiker was appointed FMCA Coordinator and Pat Foley was appointed Chapter newsletter editor.
The Chapter Regions followed the FMCA area geographical divisions and some Regional VP’s turned out to be “name only.” Regions that were active right away, included Region 3 (Eastern Canada) – Fred & Florence Ritter, Region 4 (Northeast U.S.) - Dick & Dawn Ketterin, and Region 5 (Southeast U.S.) - Charlie & Gerry Greene and Will & Betty Snowberger. At the first Chapter meeting, Charlie Greene agreed to host the first Regional rally at Kennedy Space Center in December 1993 and Barn & Marie Waldmann arranged for our next Chapter rally in March 1994 at Pumpkin Park Campground in LA. Other early rallies included Graham, WA, Kitchener, ON and Hershey, PA.
At the FMCA Convention in 1994, John & Marge Christ and the Foleys attended a seminar (by Fantasy Caravans) on RVing in Mexico and a Roadtrek caravan to that area followed in March 1995. The Foleys and Greenes attended another seminar (by Creative World) on RV barge cruises and soon we had the first of three Roadtrek barge cruises.
It wasn’t all rallies and fun, of course. Membership grew rapidly. We had to write and approve Chapter Bylaws, develop the Membership Directory, write newsletters, coordinate Regional activities, recruit officer candidates and committee members.
During the past few years our membership grew to over 1900 members. We started the CyberRally and a Chapter Web Page and now hold many wonderful Regional and Chapter rallies, "Loosey-Goosey" Alaska caravans and so much more. Many of us enjoyed our Chapter’s 10th Anniversary Rally in Kitchener, ON, (the birthplace of the Roadtrek!) and the Home & Park 30th Anniversary Rally celebration in Nashville in 2004.