A historical recap of the background and inception of Appalachian Region – Porsche Club of America (AR-PCA).
A condensed version of this article has been scheduled as remarks at the Five plus One AR–PCA Anniversary event on August 12, 2021.
It was a Saturday in April 2010. We were sitting under a PCA car corral pop-up tent, outside of turn 13 during Indy Car race practice and qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham Alabama. The group included Broadus Brannon, Matt Pohsweg, me, plus Caren Cooper (PCA National Secretary), Lauren Lopez, Martin Seligman, and a few local folks. In conversation, we related some of the Porschefest 2009 events and our plans for Porschefest 2010 and In den Bergen. We also had some discussion of Mountain Area and Carolinas Region – PCA dynamics and leadership. To paraphrase Caren Cooper’s observation that day, ”With all that you folks have going on, you really should consider forming your own region.”
We felt were way too busy to fully consider it at the time, yet the comment left an impression. It was followed by a similar comment by Caren Cooper when she visited In den Bergen in Waynesville in August 2011. At that time, Caren briefly explained the process to form a PCA region and invited us to contact her if we had further interest. (Caren Cooper was PCA National VP/future President at the time.)
As I recall, the seeds of our beginnings as a PCA region were planted in late 2008 with planning for Porschefest 2009 which the Mountain Area had volunteered to host. Porschefest was an annual Carolinas Region – PCA event. It was a “Multi-Region Event” per PCA with 3 or more events that qualified for a PCA subsidy – events included a judged concours, driving tours, gimmick rallies, historic quizzes – even an autocross on a mountain-top. Also included were social gatherings, meals and awards banquets.
Porschefest 2009 and 2010 were coordinated fully by the Mountain Area members of the Carolinas Region – PCA. We had 50 cars/100 folks registered for the 2009 event. Porschefest 2010 had 85 cars and 150 attendees. Porschefest was also coordinated simultaneously with In den Bergen (held in Waynesville) those two summers. In den Bergen was an event similar to Porschefest and featured a concours on the course at the Waynesville County Club.
Porschefest 2009 and 2010 and In den Bergen were judged as highly successful events for the Mountain Area and Carolinas Region – PCA with excellent feedback from attendees. As Mountain Area Director at the time, I enjoyed the support of a solid and growing volunteer group that had emerged even though the Mountain Area was small with fewer than 200 primary members. This volunteer group continued to grow with additional energetic, capable participants.
At that time, we were designated as the Mountain Area of the Carolinas Region – PCA which was the largest geographically in US (and an anomaly in PCA) with 8 Areas each led by an Area Director. Officers and committees were established at Carolinas Region Board level, all funds were controlled by the Carolinas Region Board (which was Charlotte, NC personnel dominated).
The Mountain Area Director was eventually just 1 of 22 people at the table for Board votes, there were just 4 (distant) Board meetings/year with limited local autonomy of the Areas. Importantly, Carolinas Region programming was not properly reflective of demographic interest per surveys of Mountain Area members at that time.
David Butler then succeeded me as Mountain Area Director. The Mountain Area continued as an element of the Carolinas Region.
Fast forward to summer 2014…
- Lauren Lopez had now succeeded David Butler as Mountain Area Director.
- At the time, Lauren reported increased challenges and frustrations with Carolinas Region leadership, more specifically, it’s programming and resource allocations.
- Then, Lauren visited with PCA Zone 3 Rep (Jim Cambron-Alabama) and a couple of other Carolinas Region Area Directors per discussions of forming a separate PCA region- either independently or with other Carolinas Region Areas. Lauren requested PCA National information on “Forming a New Region” and advised Jim Cambron of plans to meet/discuss with some Mountain Area members.
- Lauren organized a brainstorming session on 8/13/14 of a few current members and past /current Mountain Area leadership (David Butler, Peter Graham, Broadus Brannon, Matt Pohsweg, Frank Gregg, Tom Morgan, Bob Lawrence, Scott Walker, Todd Puhl, Chuck Shimer, Otto (JBird) Morgan and I were invited to this meeting.)
- At the meeting Lauren presented a case to consider forming a new PCA region. The group discussed and agreed to think it over and meet again in 2 weeks to resolve.
- At an 8/26/14 meeting the group agreed to proceed to form a PCA region (with the same geography as the Mountain Area -16 western-most counties of North Carolina) and formed a New Region Charter Petition Group.
- We elected interim officers for the transition – Jim Peterson President, Peter Graham Vice President, David Butler Secretary, Matt Pohsweg Treasurer.
- Don Therien and Mario de Francisco joined the group in September 2014. Lauren dropped out of the New Region Charter Petition Group in November and continued as Mountain Area Director until year-end 2014.
NOTE: It is appropriate to credit to Lauren Lopez for inspiring the initiative to form a new PCA region. She was the catalyst. She lit the fuse.
Why did we undertake this effort?
Our key focus and sole motivation were based on WHAT IS BEST FOR THE LOCAL MEMBERSHIP. The Mountain Area had conducted member interest surveys and profiled our demographics. We had a good idea of what the membership did and didn’t want in terms of events and activities. These factors plus the availability of willing volunteers to undertake the process to form a new region allowed this to happen.
Key benefits stated at the time (to forming our own region) included:
- Significantly improved governance based upon new by-laws – local Board, broadened leadership and committee structure, more frequent and more convenient Board meetings. There would be increased local accountability and autonomy within PCA guidelines.
- IT WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER DEAL FINANCIALLY FOR THE MEMBERS – PCA membership dues rebates would come directly to our new region, funds would be directed solely to new region member interests, surplus funds would remain in the new region treasury, we could apply for and receive PCA rebates and subsidies for activities and events and be eligible for PCA bonus rebates.
- We could offer improved sponsor benefits. Funds would stay exclusively in the region in the same general geographic area of coverage as local sponsors.
- We would enjoy better PCA representation and participation. The region would now be represented at PCA Zone meetings and would also receive a vote at PCA Board meetings
Now that it was decided, this is the process we pursued in forming a region: We were required to file a formal letter of petition to form a PCA Region (and leave the Carolinas Region as Mountain Area.) We followed a PCA guideline “Forming A New Region” working with PCA Zone Reps Jim Cambron (then his successor Vic Rola after 1/1/15) and the PCA National Office.
By way of review, our letter of petition was required to include:
- List of at least 25 charter members
- Copy of proposed by-laws that we developed and submitted to PCA National office for review and approval.
- Letter from the Region-in-Formation (Mountain Area) to the existing Region (Carolinas Region) releasing claims to any financial assets. (this meant our new region treasury would start with $0).
- Letter from the existing Region (Carolinas Region) releasing the specified territory (16 Western-most counties of NC/same as Mountain Area).
- Map showing boundaries of the proposed new region including list of all zip codes and counties in the new region.
- The name of the new region (this required a membership vote).
- A region logo/identity (which also required membership vote.)
- Names and contact information for interim officers of the new region.
- Also, we decided that it made best financial sense to go with website-based communication to members and avoid the cost of a newsletter. (It was about 50/50 within PCA regions at the time.) So, a region website also had to be developed.
We were allowed a 6-month window to compile and file our petition. However, information was required 4 weeks in advance of the next PCA Executive Committee meeting. We targeted the February 2015 PCA Executive Committee meeting based on a December 15, 2014, submission-this meant we compiled and filed the petition in about 4 months.
Note: Once chartered, all Mountain Area members would be contacted by PCA to declare the region of their choice – Appalachian (our new region), Carolinas (previous region) or any other PCA region.
Our group found that forming a new region took a big effort. Zone Reps ran interference for us with PCA National office.
The Mountain Area continued on at the time. Lauren Lopez was succeeded by Peter Graham as Mountain Area Director in January 2015.
After it was all said and done, we received notification on February 6, 2015, of the February 2, 2015, PCA Executive committee approval and chartering of the Appalachian Region as 142nd PCA region in North America. (The framed charter currently hangs on a wall of the Porsche Asheville facility.)
I agree with comments by David Butler “For me, these are the Founding Members – those individuals that were instrumental in the decision to apply for and those that performed the activities required by PCA in application and issuance of a PCA charter. Lauren Lopez, Broadus Brannon, David Butler, Joe Esposito, Peter Graham, Frank Gregg, Bob Lawrence, Dick Maybach, JBird Morgan, Jim Peterson, Matt Pohsweg, Don Therien, and Scott Walker.”
What was next? We communicated the good news to Appalachian Region – PCA charter members, identified key committees and open positions, thanked those that helped us along the way for their support and began planning for a charter party which was hosted and fully sponsored by Harmony Motors/Porsche Asheville in April 2015. We also worked on 2015 programming in our spare time.
The first election of Appalachian Region officers (per by-laws) was scheduled for the fall of 2015.
In summary, I believe that this accomplishment reflected the extra efforts of group that shared a common interest and a willingness to step up and contribute for the good of the membership. It was the right move, at the right time, with the right folks involved.
Local Porsche dealer support was very important and grew along the way. A relationship with Harmony Motors/Porsche Asheville developed and was cultivated for mutual benefit-and continues on to the present.
Since February 2015, I believe that AR-PCA has exceeded our most optimistic expectations.
Jim Peterson, first acting AR–PCA President