In Service to You: Being a Board Member
by Steve Dick
A little over two years ago, I was approached about serving on the board of directors for AMBC. I was caught totally by surprise and had many mixed feelings.
I was proud that I would even be considered, concerned that I had no clue what a board member did, and had this nagging feeling of unworthiness. Who was I that AMBC would even notice me, let alone want me to serve? After all, I was just a small shop owner from Springfield, Ohio, trying to make a living for myself and my employees—similar circumstances, I imagine, to most of you. What could I possibly add to the board of directors for this organization I have been a member of since 2006? It was time to start asking questions…
How did AMBC even really know who I was? I had been to a couple events. I had a phone conversation or two with ‘AMBC bigwigs’ (please laugh at that, because I do now) when I had questions I couldn’t resolve on my own. But nothing that would say, “here I am, pick me!” The answer that I got was that my involvement on the forums, both asking and answering questions, helped them determine I might be a good candidate. It was because I was already exhibiting the “Members Helping Members” mentality that AMBC wanted to be their focus. I spoke with Fahim and others, and got a resounding vote of confidence that they believed I would be a benefit to the organization. I had been nominated and they wanted my OK to put my name on the ballot for board service.
So how does being a board member work? I like to think I am a nuts-and-bolts kind of person. I need to understand details—the ins and outs of things—before I make decisions. AMBC’s board is set up pretty simply:
- Prospective board members are voted on by the paying members of AMBC. A simple majority of the votes is needed to be elected. A board member can be re-elected to serve two consecutive terms (a total of six years), then must step down for a minimum of one year before being considered for board membership again.
- Board members serve a three-year term. There are four positions that the board of directors vote to fill: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.
- The board itself can have anywhere from five members to 11 members, with staggered terms (ideally, one third of the board should be re-elected or replaced each year).
What do board members actually do? This is the real million-dollar question. Since AMBC operates as a volunteer board-run organization, almost everything is done by the board, with help from our paid staff (Director of Operations, Kim Galloway, and new Operations Executive, Brad Risch) and volunteer staff (Director of Communication and Advisor to the Board, Marty Johnson).
The board holds a virtual board meeting once a month via Zoom, and in-person board meetings are also held at any industry event attended by a majority of active board members. We are responsible for communication to AMBC membership through the website, email, phone conversations, and social media. Board members plan and organize AMBC events. Board members also help create the content for our magazine, MBC Today (and we are always looking for good, relevant material if anyone reading this would like to contribute).
How much time is involved in being a board member? Here was the real kicker for me when deciding to accept the nomination or not. I like my free time. Every small business owner I know cherishes the moments they don’t have to worry about their business. The time commitment for a board member should be two to four hours a month; a little more around events; even a little more if you want to contribute articles to MBC Today but are really a struggling writer like me. I decided I was willing to volunteer those hours, so I accepted the nomination and was elected two years ago.
I’m a board member, what now? The first few months were about getting to know the other board members, getting comfortable, and finding out where I fit in. When it came time to vote on the board member positions, I volunteered for the treasurer’s position. I have always been a numbers person, and I thought that would be an area in which I could contribute based upon my skills. I think the entire board was glad to let me take that responsibility (definitely no one fought me for it!) I take great pride in helping AMBC be financially responsible with no debt. Our members want their dollars spent in the manner which best benefits them, which is something I and the entire board always strive to do.
What have I done in two years of service? I want to emphasize that being on the board of directors is all about team effort. I just want to highlight some of the board’s accomplishments that I feel especially close to and proud of:
- Right after I joined, we switched from Quickbooks Desktop to Quickbooks Online. Since AMBC doesn’t have a formal office building “corporate headquarters,” it allows us to have access from anywhere it is needed. It has been essential in helping us save costs.
- Do any of you remember “Print, Ship, and Get Social!?” Less than six months into board service, I found out I was assuming the role of event planner. I learned so much about all the hard work it takes to pull off an event of this nature. In my opinion, the AMBC board knocked this one out of the park. The event had great content and a fun atmosphere, and amazing friendships made.
- MBC Today: not only am I lucky enough to contribute content, but my store, Box King, won the bid to produce and mail the physical magazines. It is always a thrill to see them rolling off the digital press and being bagged to go to USPS.
- Marketing and rebranding AMBC: from the logo to the website to the many printed materials that AMBC uses, working on getting the AMBC message across in a visually effective manner is very rewarding.
So, what’s next? Time sure flies. The end of my first term is just over the horizon. The board members I am privileged to serve with have become family. I said two to four hours a month is what is normal, but I can tell you, we are not normal. I can’t think of a day when we don’t communicate. Sometimes it’s urgent AMBC matters; sometimes it’s talking about our stores or customer issues. Many times, it is just being a friend. As a board, we use our core family relationship to power the AMBC principle of Members Helping Members. I am hopeful that I will be able to serve a second term, and help continue in the work we are doing.
You can help! As I have said, AMBC’s board is designed to be ever-changing, with fresh faces and ideas being brought in every year. We are currently looking for additional board members who are passionate about helping others, have a solid working knowledge of the mail and business center world, and would like to contribute to our great organization. If you would like to nominate another AMBC Member, or if you have interest yourself, please reach out to me or any of the other board members. Come, join our family.
Thank you for allowing me to serve!
Steve Dick is a store owner, efficiency proponent, and food truck lover. He serves on the AMBC Board of Directors as Director of Print for Profit and Board Treasurer. When he’s not spending his normal 50 hours per week at Box King – Pack, Ship, Print, he’s probably looking for the next food truck gathering he can attend. #TacosBeware
This is article was published in MBC Today Volume 22, Issue 4 (July / August 2020). AMBC Members may access the full issue digitally in the Members Only section of ambc4me.org, and also have a printed copy of the magazine mailed to them.