“We’ve Only Just Begun”
Gaines Butler on Upcoming AMOA Plans
Q: What are your goals as you make the rounds this summer at the many industry events you’ll attend?
A: While we’re already entering the sixth month of 2016, it’s just the start of the summer state association meetings season in our industry. Since beginning my term as AMOA president in mid-March, I’ve traveled to the National Dart Association’s (NDA) Team Dart program in Las Vegas, the Pennsylvania Amusement & Music Machine Association’s (PAMMA) Annual Meeting and Legislative Reception in Harrisburg and the Oregon Amusement & Music Operators Association’s (OAMOA) Annual Membership Meeting in Portland.
This trio of trips has been great for me to get acclimated in my role as AMOA’s on-the-road ambassador that I will fulfill during the next nine-and-a-half months. The main message during my visits is encouraging member engagement, not only in AMOA, but in the state organizations as well.
While it’s true there is “strength in numbers,” there’s greater potency and power in organizations whose members and constituents are actively involved. For example, during my tour of the Team Dart event, I was in awe of the work ethic displayed by the volunteers there. Their engagement level was off the charts and it showed in the results — a near flawless, professionally-run event. NDA Executive Director Leslie Murphy and her team played a major role in the success of the tourney, but the legion of industry execs who contribute their time and talents to help run the competition continues to be critical in producing a positive outcome at this unique venue.
In Pennsylvania, hope springs eternal on prospects for passage of legislation to bring operator-run video gaming to the state. PAMMA’s membership and attendance has swelled in response to this possibility.
And in Oregon, it’s a scenario that can be found at many, if not most, state associations, where a small group of individuals keeps on doing the work and completing projects because there’s no one else willing or able to take their place! If just one or two fresh faces could rotate into the mix—allowing the long-time volunteers to take a brief break — just think how much more effective these hard-working organizations could be.
Why don’t more rank-and-file members raise their hands? Some common reasons given are:
“I don’t have the time.”
“It’s too expensive.”
“I’m not qualified.”
“I don’t see any value in it.”
To me, AMOA, state associations and all volunteer-driven organizations need to focus more on the last reason — the perceived lack of value — and address it.
At AMOA, we offer, among other things: legislative advocacy on important industry issues, a strong lineup of continuing education opportunities and member discounts, plus we cosponsor a vibrant trade event, the Amusement Expo, and facilitate peer-to-peer networking. Admittedly, some of these are hard to quantify when it comes to value, but I think virtually all would agree these are areas that yield special benefits that ultimately foster personal and professional growth.
Member engagement can be elusive, but never has it been more essential to our future. Show value — sell the value — and participation will follow. Three years ago, AMOA and AAMA introduced a full-day program, Expo Education Day, as part of the annual Amusement Expo. We worked hard to deliver sessions that featured strong content and highly-qualified presenter/panelists. The results, in the form of attendance and engagement, have increased each year.
Today, there are a lot of coin-op folks on the sidelines. The good news is there’s a solid upside potential for greater member engagement—both at AMOA and our state associations around the country.
I hope to be able to convince, or even coerce, some of those fence-sitters to get, and to stay, in the game by becoming more interested, engaged and vested in the future of their businesses, their industry and trade organizations. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but I’m optimistic about the future. We’ve only just begun!
Involved and working up through the ranks within AMOA since 2000, Gaines Butler has a great deal of passion for the coin machine industry and its main operator association. Himself a route operator (Metro Distributing in the Atlanta area), Gaines isn’t afraid of new ideas or taking the company in new directions (he’s added camera and alarm systems to the mix). During his presidency, Gaines has clear goals: “What I want to bring to this position are my passions for education and state involvement,” he told RePlay. “Every state can benefit from the AMOA, as can every operator and everyone in this industry. If you’re not a member, you should become one for the simple fact that it lets you know what is going on.”