Q&A with AMOA – October 2018


Jim Marsh, Hart Novelty, Bellingham, Washington

Member Engagement

It Only Grows in Importance


Q: You’ve traveled extensively this summer to state ­meetings. What’s been your takeaway?

A: I’d have to say it’s the importance of engagement. I can illustrate that by talking about my end-of-summer travel to the events of two distinctly different state associations.

In mid-August, I visited with members of the Montana Coin Machine Operators Association. Over the past couple of years, the group has had to adapt to significant consolidation of its membership in a rather short period of time. Already among the smaller state groups, it took time to acclimate. However, like any state organization, big or small, when a crisis or opportunity presents itself, it always increases engagement and that’s the case here. Since Montana is a gaming state, the association’s current focus is on sports gambling and bringing it into the operator-run gaming portfolio.

After visiting with the Montana members, I left their state with one word in mind: resiliency. Their members came together this year fully-engaged, which resulted in a very productive meeting.

During the third week of August, I traveled to Michigan or as they say, “the mitten,” to visit with members of the Michigan Coin Machine Operators Association. Although not currently dealing with any type of notable crisis, the Michigan association is keeping an eye on their neighboring state of Ohio and the recent regulations put into play there.

Michigan is to be commended for conducting a strong meeting, something that’s not easy to do without a crisis or issue to rally behind. I was impressed with the high level of engagement from their members and the strong foundation they continue to maintain in a relatively neutral climate.

AMOA recently conducted its first Member Appreciation Day. Tell us about that.

AMOA is celebrating 70 years as a national trade organization, and we ­wouldn’t have reached this milestone if it wasn’t for our amazing members.We were looking for a way to say “thank you” to our entire membership and that’s when the concept of appreciation day was born.

We began the day by offering all AMOA members a discount on registration fees for the upcoming On the Road Program. All they had to do was go online, register and enter the code “thanks for being awesome” and we saw several members take advantage. The remainder of the day was filled with random drawings and a trivia contest followed by the grand prize drawing for a paid 2019 AMOA membership.

It was a fun-filled day with great member engagement, not only on our social media outlets, but also through email and calls coming into AMOA headquarters. Those who entered the trivia contest had the opportunity to win a book –– Best-Selling Albums of All Times –– which from what I understand, got somewhat competitive and appeared to be the most sought-after prize of the day.

My personal favorite was the drawing for having food fromPortillo’s, an iconic Chicago based hot dog/Italian beef establishment, shipped to you. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a lucky winner so will have to get my Portillo’s Italian Beef fix next time I head to Chicago!

I should also note that 50 AMOA members won an “AMOA Swag Bag.”

Overall, what I’ve seen through my state visits and through our Member Appreciation Day is how crucial engagement is. When you think about it, true progress can only be achieved by being and staying engaged.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to engage and move your business forward and maybe are not sure where to start, I strongly suggest you consider attending AMOA’s upcoming “On the Road” Continuing Education Program, Oct. 26-28 in Chicago just outside O’Hare Airport. As a small operator myself, I’ve found the education and networking to be invaluable for my business. I hope to see you there!

Jim Marsh is the second-generation leader at Hart Novelty (Bellingham, Washington), following in the footsteps of his father (and past-AMOA president) Al Marsh who passed away in 2009. Jim left college to fill in for his father during his 1986-1987 AMOA term and never left, enjoying living and working in the community he loves. Hart Novelty got its start in the 1940s as a pinball and jukebox operation founded by Joe Hart, later run by Jack Roberts until the 1960s when Al Marsh took the reins. (He started working at the company back in the ’50s. Today, Hart covers some 60 square miles across Whatcom, Skagit and Island Counties with street locations that range from upscale urban to blue-collar rural. It still specializes in jukes and pins, but has added a host of other amusement devices to its portfolio, including redemption units along with ATMs.

Jim himself is every bit the kind gentleman his father was and should bring a steady hand to the helm of the national operator group. During his term, he hopes to bring more FEC owners into the membership, encourage operators to take advantage of networking opportunities and continue growing educational programs.


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