June 2005 Presidentís Report

By Ira Pollack, President


††††††††††† I hope all is well with you. This month I would like to share with you the state of our Museum, where we're heading, some of our problems, how we may solve them, and how we may continue to grow as a museum and organization.

††††††††††† About two years ago the Museum, although growing quickly, was operating at a loss. The monies that had been made in the past were almost depleted with no new sources of income. Throughout this growth period we had spent more monies on the many new projects than was coming through the door. Our organization could not continue to function in this way.

††††††††††† To remedy this I felt an emergency marketing plan must be devised to reverse this financial trend. A plan was formed to enhance and expand our operating schedule, running trains every weekend both Saturday and Sunday, with the possibility of operations on Thursdays. Remember, visitors coming to the Museum want to ride a train, so this added schedule should certainly attract them. A training program was also established to certify and qualify the newly added crews for these extended operations, initially with much success. Also, we established an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign, with a family-oriented focus. Our Advertising Director targeted schools, bus trips and tour groups within an expanded geographic area. This increased marketing and the expansion of our operations has been an incredible success for the Museum. As a result the Museum ended 2004 with a profit. I must commend all of the hard work and commitment that was needed to accomplish this.

††††††††††† We also have added, and will continue to add new events to our yearly schedule. The goal is to appeal to and attract a wider variety of guests. The Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and new Pumpkin Patch trains events have proven to be increasingly successful. Hopefully the new events of the Hammer-In and Jeep Meet will do the same in the near future.

††††††††††† Although these new programs and events have been very popular with our guests, and immensely helped the Museum financially, they have required a great deal from our volunteers. We are operating with a limited staff with many of us doing multiple jobs. We still need more volunteers in all of our various departments. These range from being a part of the train crew to tour guides to front desk personnel. There are gaps that desperately need to be filled to continue our growth and operations. We have also reached the point of almost not being able to operate our full schedule of train rides on weekends because of lack of crew. With any organization, there is always some attrition in the volunteer roster. In a growing organization such as ours, it is even more important to have new volunteers join in our effort.

††††††††††† As you well know by now, I am and always will be a strong believer and supporter of our volunteers. It is the volunteer who has made this organization what it is today, and will keep it going and growing. I need your help. The Museum needs your help. If even one-fourth of our 600 members could come forward and become involved it would make all the difference.

††††††††††† We are in the process of forming a procedural manual to teach and guide the volunteers in the operation of each particular department, such as, how to run the Gift Shop or how to run the front desk, etc. This will ease the training process for the new volunteers. I also propose having a New Member Day on which personnel from each of our different departments will be on site to explain the volunteer opportunities and recruit new volunteers in the new membersí areas of interest.

††††††††††† I'm very serious about what I've said here. The Museum needs your help now more than ever before. We have worked very hard over these last few years to grow and become financially viable. Now with the Museumís increased popularity and expanded schedule we need your support and help. Please help our Museum continue to grow.