As President Brandon Pensick has been discussing in his column in the magazine, the California economy is growing again and so is the Engineering Contractors’ Association “economy,” as measured by increased membership.

One of the mysteries of the association business is how to get members to participate in our committees, in our events and in our meetings. During the summer our board had asked that question so to find the answer we started on a quest to meet with our members and ask the question. The answers we got were interesting and enlightening.

Family First

We found that members think of their families first, so if meetings/events/committees met at a time when they needed to be at their kid’s football/soccer/swimming/Scouting/recitals/school play events, that’s where they were going to go.

Second, we found out that our members were dedicated to their businesses so that if the ECA activities were related to their business interests they would attend—if the event was held at a location that was near their homes or at least on the way, even better.

Third, we discovered that if they had a non-business interest such as golf, fishing, shooting (think average guy hobbies) they would likely attend (see number two for location).

Finally we uncovered the fact that many, many of them had attended some of our activities (if they met the qualifications in items one, two and three).

In fact, when we tallied up the numbers from our records for the past five years they were right—our average annual event attendance has gone from 960 members five years ago to 1,500 members in the past year.

Data Driven Future

That’s what we call a good start, but ECA’s meeting and membership committees (we need more volunteers for those groups) will have their work cut out for them in 2018. With the data we obtained through (ongoing) member interviews we are going to be able put more planning into meetings/events/committees agendas and locations.

We will be asking for more member data as well, things like home addresses, family, hobbies and other personal interests. We will then use this data to develop an activity calendar that more closely aligns with our member’s needs.

We’re also going to make sure our current and prospective members understand that ECA is more than meetings. Our focus on local—local governments, local construction opportunities and local relationships with partners in our industry, trade unions and other organizations—will strengthen and grow. Even our meetings are local and soon to be more family friendly.

We want our members to understand that ECA is more than a trade association—that we are part of their extended family.

By Wes May, ECA Executive Director