Membership Dues and My Attraction to the Mailroom Guy
By Amy Hatfield
When I landed my first job after college, I was the youngest person in a fairly large office - 100 people or so - for about a year. Then they hired a guy one year younger than me. But he was "only" the mailroom guy. He had a booming, grating voice and a carrot-top 'fro. It was actually a high and tight haircut, military style, with a big orange cheese puff hovering above his brow and the crown of his head.
Yet, I had a mild crush on him. I had a mild crush on him?!
He was very smart, an intellectual (swoon), and he projected a disarming confidence. He gave me a book called, "The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy," by Christopher Lasch. What adult-like, superior reading, I thought. And I must confess that some of Lasch's observations about community and the idea of banding together to invest in something larger than your own back 40 remains with me today.
I find that ideal relevant at the ATA. The organization's structure as a trade association frees it from competitive forces that are natural and necessary to private businesses. Liberated as such, the ATA can focus on long-term growth plans that benefit the entire industry. This includes the ATA's community archery strategy, which celebrated 10 years of work in 2011.
ATA-member businesses exercise a collective voice fueled by a joint investment. About 1,000 archery shops and 500 manufacturers pay to participate in the Trade Show, thus contributing more than $15 million for infusing archery into communities nationwide. This revenue generator is a substantial reinvestment into each archery and bowhunting business because it fosters new archers and increased participation. It also wouldn't be happening without the collective effort of ATA members.
This collaboration resembles the bigger-than-one vision of companies I read about in Lasch's book. The book - or at least a portion of it - dedicates itself to considering America's allegiance to upward mobility, which nowadays most consider the price of getting ahead. But prior to World War II, just before suburbia and mobility began shaping our culture, there was old money and old family-owned companies tied to a place, a single city. Granted, these companies had flaws, but they left a legacy too. Families and companies were collaborators with the cities where they lived. They invested in parks, libraries, museums, orchestras and hospitals. They helped make inner cities strong and attractive, even as, years later as upward mobility emerged and companies and employees weren't tied to a single place, many inner cities crumbled into crime-ridden ruins.
And it wasn't because these companies were more generous than those today. It was because they were strategic. They understood that unified and progressive cities attracted industry, infrastructure and investment. Ultimately, the investment in something bigger than each company's "own back 40" attracted tomorrow's growth opportunities.
By investing in communities today, the archery and bowhunting industry's strategy is somewhat different in the desired outcome, but similar in the effort to unify and collaborate. By making archery available through park and rec departments and other civic entities that are easy for families to plug into, the strategy plants recreational infrastructure ripe for reaping a young generation of archers.
These thoughts leads to something very practical: The ATA's 2012-2013 membership-renewal orders were mailed earlier this month to ATA members. Pretty pedestrian stuff, right? But it's the pedestrian stuff that lays the groundwork for the visionary stuff, like football camp in July when no one's watching.
If you're looking for more details beyond the framework of the ATA's community archery strategy mentioned here, a thorough report outlining accomplishments and next steps is featured in the "2012 ATA Trade Show Guide and Membership Directory." Then, keep an eye out for your membership-renewal mailing, and reinvest in the ATA's efforts. The 2012-2013 membership year starts April 1.
Did You Know?
The ATA signed an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will maintain and increase bowhunting opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges nationwide.