President’s Corner – Fall 2017
by Neil Gambony
Thanks for five great years!
By Jeff Caldwell
As I write this last President’s column it’s really sinking in that my time as leader of the NJ Chapter is coming to an end. Hard to believe, honestly. It has been a fun, challenging, sometimes stressful, but always rewarding experience. It has truly been my honor to serve as your President and it is my sincere hope that as a Chapter we have continued to exceed your expectations. We’ve worked very hard to bring you, the membership, a diverse offering of events that add value to your BMW ownership experience. That is truly the mission of the BMW CCA, to enrich your experience as BMW enthusiasts.
One of the biggest goals I had when taking over as President was for the NJ Chapter to host a national Oktoberfest. As most of you know, we accomplished this in 2015, when we successfully presented Oktoberfest to the national membership in southern NJ at the Seaview Resort and New Jersey Motorsports Park. I am extremely proud of Oktoberfest and know that we put New Jersey’s best foot forward. It was a massive undertaking and could not have been realized without the hard work of many incredible volunteers. Volunteers are heart of our Chapter and everything we do is supported by the efforts of folks who toil away behind the scenes to make all of our events special and successful. In addition, as your President, I have been blessed with wonderful Board members who have been with me every step of the way. Please indulge me as I take this final opportunity to recognize those people who have been instrumental in the Chapter’s success, not only for my term as President, but well before it in many cases.
As a new President five years ago I was overwhelmed. Thankfully, past President Larry Engel was available to help me as I navigated the new world I was facing. He was and is instrumental in my growth as the leader of the NJ Chapter. Thank you Larry for your counsel, friendship, and hard work. Larry also should be commended for his continuing work organizing and putting on Teen Street Survival events. TSS is a feather in the cap of our Chapter and helpful in training young drivers to be safe out on the roads.
There are two other Board members who really made my time as President easier, more enjoyable, and certainly less stressful. Huge thanks to Jeff White and Ross Karlin. These two men are invaluable to the NJ Chapter and provided me with a backstop when I was unsure of how to handle a situation, or which direction to take the chapter. I can’t count the number of calls, texts, emails and meetings we had over the years. Jeff and Ross…THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. Larry, Jeff, and Ross were also the leaders of our Oktoberfest effort. We could not have pulled off the event in the style and efficiency we did without their tireless dedication.
Now on to my incredible Board. People have come and gone over the years, so this list will be a tad long. Still, I feel it is only appropriate to thank each and every one of them. First and foremost, my eternal gratitude goes to Doug Feigel, who served as our Business Manager for many years. Doug was responsible for spearheading the Chapter’s advertising effort for the News Bulletin and website. Doug built the advertiser roster to something we never could have imagined. He also organized and codified the position of Business Manager for those who would follow after him. Doug was responsible for shaping a big part of the Chapter business model and I can’t thank him enough for it. Matt Baratz also did a fantastic job succeeding Doug as Business Manager. Cheers Matt!
I’ve been fortunate to have two great Vice Presidents work with me: Paul Ngai and Marc Goeller. Both have done an excellent job overseeing the NJ Chapter meeting schedule, as well as organizing marquis events like the VDC tour and BMW NA annual get together. Thanks Paul and Marc for your hard work, organization, and energy.
On the social side I started as President with “Big Al” Drugos as Social Chair. Despite the gruff exterior, Al’s love for the Chapter was evident and I thank him for the years of service. After Al stepped down, we were lucky to have John Gyorfy and Chuck Schmidt jump on board to tag-team the social responsibilities. John and Chuck were the catalyst for moving our Chapter banquet to the Madison Hotel! These guys were also responsible for the super successful casino night aspect of the banquet and so much more. Thanks John and Chuck. Finally, Vic Lucariello, Jr. has assumed the Social Chair duties and is doing a fantastic job. Look for the new NJ Chapter winter party that will take the place of the banquet. Vic has some great stuff in store. Stay tuned, information will be coming shortly to your email inbox!
What about our media? You are reading the News Bulletin right now and that comes to you via the hands of Jerry Faber. Jerry has been a constant for NJ Chapter and likely has the most thankless job on our Board. Between chasing delinquent contributors (mainly yours truly…), organizing and laying out the Bulletin, and staying on top of advertising, Newsletter Editor is a big job. Jerry does it with an ease and style that is uniquely his own. Jerry, thank you for your patience and the incredible product you continue to put out. Amazing! Also on the media side is our Webmaster Colin Vozeh. Colin is a very “behind the scenes” guy, and keeps the website up to date and running smoothly. Thanks Colin for sticking with me all these years. I really appreciate it.
No Board would be complete without a Secretary and Dave Allaway has filled the position for many years. I am so thankful to Dave for the dedication he shows. Dave never misses a board meeting, always has a smile on his face, and has been a constant calming force on the board. Thank you Dave. I could not have done this without you. Dave is also a bit of a Chapter historian and along with Brian Morgan they can usually give us background on pretty much anything we need to know with regard to NJ Chapter. I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out Brian Morgan. I so much appreciate you attending the meetings and being an advocate for me over the years. Means more than you know!
Who next, but the money man! Ron Gemeinhardt has been a fabulous Treasurer for NJ Chapter. Also a thankless job, handling the finances for a Chapter as large as NJ is no small task. I and the board have worked with Ron continually to improve and stabilize the Chapter’s financial position. I am proud to say that through his and the Board’s efforts, our balance sheet is strong and the Chapter is on solid footing. Ron is a tireless advocate for fiscal responsibility and I am thankful for his counsel. Ron, I will miss working with you. Thank you for the great enthusiasm you show. Oh, and thanks for figuring out the dinner bill at all of the board meetings!
We’ve had many “members at large” over my term and it’s hard to thank them all individually. To all of you who have served on our Board as members at large, thank you for your unique talents and contribution. Special thanks to Bob Isbitski, who has stepped up our game with regard to member recruitment in the past couple years. Bob is responsible for our presence at big events like BimmerFest East. We are seeing results. Thank you!
Last, but not least, let’s talk about Driving Events. Neil Gambony has handled duties as Driving Events Chair and overseen a large and thriving program. We are truly blessed in our Chapter to have such a strong Driver School, Club Racing and Autocross program. NJ Chapter is one of the most active in the country with respect to these events. Thanks again to Jeff White and Ross Karlin, our Driver School Chair and Race Chair respectively. Thank you Jamie Kavalieros, Mark Mallory, and all the other volunteers who make our Driver Schools and Club Races run smoothly. Thank you Barry Stevens and Blake Smith for your work as Chief Instructor over the years. Thank you Vic Lucariello Sr. for the indelible mark you left on NJ Chapter Driver School Tech. We miss you! Thank you Warren Brown for stepping in to fill Vic’s shoes and thank you to the countless tech workers who brave early mornings and cold temps to keep our events safe. Thank you Elihu Savad and your band of Autocross volunteers who soldier on, despite fewer lots and fewer dates. You ALL make tough jobs look easy.
I am sure I have forgotten someone, that is inevitable when you have so many great people surrounding you. Please know that if I did miss you it’s not a conscious omission, and I am so very grateful for everyone’s dedication to our mission over the years.
A very special thank you to my amazing wife Sharon for her advice, support, and often times, tough love when it comes to BMW-related activities. Sharon also was a huge contributor to our Oktoberfest in 2015. Thanks for joining me on this crazy ride. I love you.
Well, that leaves only one last “Thank you” and that’s to all of you. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you as President of the NJ Chapter. It is an honor I will cherish and reflect on proudly for the rest of my life. I promise I am leaving you in capable hands. As always, if you need anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Have a wonderful holiday season and New Year.
See you at the track!