When you have a group of high energy idea people like the ones who belong to RIA’s Membership Committee, it is always a pleasure to convene and talk business, which is exactly what we did in Raleigh, North Carolina recently. This group clearly enjoys the task of addressing membership issues, and takes its job seriously even while finding time to have fun and cultivate relationships.
Chairing the committee is Catherine Morris from ATI Industrial Automation, and she was our gracious host for a “pre-game” tour of her company’s growing corporate headquarters followed by dinner at the Morris home. We had a wonderful steak dinner cooked to tender perfection, and Keith, her husband, has a roomful of vintage pinball games that he opened up for our amusement.
That evening, February 28, we spent time brainstorming ways to appeal to new and current members. In particular, time was spent on the importance of serving the user members in ways that benefit them. It has become a priority to recruit a user and an educator to the committee, which was on all our minds when we left for the night.
A longer, more in-depth meeting took place the next day at a nearby hotel in Cary, North Carolina. A new membership goal of 300 was set for 2007, which is the big Robots & Vision Show year, and assuming retention stays at 87%, that means the Association will need 71 new members. Each of the last two years have been growth periods for RIA, but this goal represents a stretch beyond the usual 50 or so new members per year.
It is very rare for a trade association to include user members and makes it difficult to compare RIA to other industry trade groups, but the Membership Committee embraces the challenges involved in serving both users and makers of robotics technology.
There are many organizations for manufacturers, and no doubt some make an effort to value customers that buy products made by their members. Thanks to the Membership Committee, RIA elevates the concern for users and educators to the point of inclusion. If you are a user company or an educator, please contact Brian Huse (firstname.lastname@example.org, 734/994-6088) for more information on joining this committee.