A Word from the Board
December 2023

By: Peter Eick, Past President


Welcome to Winter in Texas and please enjoy the Holiday Season.  As Past President, I think they put you in the December slot for “View from the Board” because you have had 6 months of being Past President and this gives you time to reflect and draw some perspective for the board and the GSH membership.  

During my tenure, the Board and I focused on the most critical problem for the society which was membership and aging demographics in the society.  The membership problem is one of age and downsizing in the industry.  Our society is getting smaller unfortunately and with smaller membership, there is less cash flow to run the society.  When you run a business and you are not profitable, you either downsize and spend less or you charge more for your product.  

The board and I chose to try and increase the membership while simultaneously trying to reduce our spend.  We did not want to raise the price of our events or the society dues.  Looking back to July 22, 2022, we had 1031 members and on June 6, 2023 we had 1262 members!  That is a big success and we need to keep it up but, in the end, those extra dues did not close the budget gap.  We need to approach the young NextGen G&Gs along with the experienced folks in the greater Houston area and to encourage them to join/rejoin our society.  The goal for membership is 2000 next year, not 1262 so lets start talking up the GSH!

We had more luck on the spend issue, we came really close to breaking even.  The society finances are complex but to put it into rough numbers the society is similar to a $330,000/year company.  Our dues we pay only cover maybe a quarter of that amount. The rest has to be made up by our fundraisers and events.  This means you and I need to attend the talks and take part in our events/fund raisers.  That is how we make the money that runs the society.  

Consulting with the board, and watching our funding on a month-to-month basis, we decided we had to take more action on the big ticket costs.  Practically that meant the editor and journal as their burn rate of money was higher than anticipated.  We functionally changed these roles to create a new position called the Communications Director whose job function was to help reduce our costs and create a new look and feel for the communications from the society to the members.  This changeover was not without challenges but in the end, it has obviously saved significant moneys for the society.  

The other big expense item we worked on extensively was the Museum and GSH offices.  Klass our prior President started us on the pathway of consolidation, and Rene was able to lead and run this effort with a bunch of help from our many volunteers.  In the end we were able to complete Klaas’s vision with the move from 2 offices to 1 and enjoy the benefits of less expenses and overhead.  My hope is Rene, Kathy and I set Katie our current president up for success financially in 2023/24.  We also were able to get our back tax returns filed and we got our QuickBooks back in reasonable order.

Finally, we also edited the Policies and Procedures and the bylaws.  Katie took this role on and the team did a great job to review and update these rules for the society.  I think it will make the society run smoother in the future.   Paul Schatz stepped forward volunteering to take on the Journal editor and manage the transition to the new Communications Director.  Paul rolled up his sleeves and worked with Liza to manage this change of direction and cost cutting effort.  They both have done an excellent job at this goal.  

The society and is volunteers were very active and run the events, the technical talks, social events, yearly symposiums.  I can only say thank you for your efforts.  You guys are the best. 

Thank you for letting me be the President last year.  It was a learning experience for me and I appreciate the opportunity.

Enjoy the Holidays and Happy New Year. 
Peter Eick, Past President 2023