AWCI’s Fall Symposium a Rousing Success
When the discussion of the 2021 Fall Symposium came up earlier this year, I told the board I wanted this year’s meeting to be at AWCI headquarters, and be a simple social gathering after COVID-19 had prevented us from meeting for the last two years.
AWCI opened its doors again to classes and activities in August, and I wanted this meeting to be primarily a social gathering, a time of networking, and a celebration of the institution emerging from COVID-19 with a revitalized vision, driven by a new energy that promises to see AWCI grow. I wanted the meeting to be simple, devoid of the typical list of lectures usually associated with previous conventions, and free to all participants.
I was given what I asked for.
The days leading up to the meeting, and through November 5, the clock classroom and machine shop were abuzz with a group working on clock course development, with the objective of creating a class that will be scheduled for the spring and taught by Stephen Franke and assisted by another member of the group. The class they were working on was Basic Clock Skills, which included the rudiments of lathe work, mainspring handling, pivot polishing, and bushing tools.
The objective of the group was to create videos and classroom materials that can be used by anyone and be accessed online and to train teachers. The group hopes to expand the effort to include an affiliate chapter that can work with both AWCI and NAWCC in making a full-fledged program. In the initial discussions, R.K. Elswick suggested that this would be a decade-long project or more, and the entire class agreed and thought the effort necessary lest the art form of clockmaking be lost.
The participants included four university-level educators and experience levels that ranged between total novice and master clockmaker. The participants included David Lindow, Stephen Franke, Ken DeLucca (education coordinator from NAWCC), Wayne Andrews, R.K. Elswick, David Burns, Vernine Blaszczyk, Michal Blaszczyk, Scott Kip, Rob DuFault, Curt Lefforts, Nick Butt, Parker Boughton, and Curtis Cox, who were all volunteers.
The Fall Symposium officially kicked off on the evening of Thursday, November 4, with the President’s Reception where sandwiches, snacks, and drinks were served, followed by brief words from myself and former AWCI president Aaron Recksiek. Conversations flowed after and the meeting was underway.
Friday, November 5 had three sessions of discussion groups focused primarily on education. The Industry Advisory Board (IAB) also met, and Nick Butt was selected as their new board representation. Johnson Investments met with the board concerning the Perpetuation Fund, and it should be noted that the fund balance is doing well and because the draw is limited to 5.5%, it’s outpacing inflation by just a margin.
A software company out of Indianapolis, Indiana, Jewelr (https://www.jewlr.co), also gave a presentation on their new tracking software that promises to help jewelers and watch shops track jobs and inventory. The day was closed out with the board meeting in executive session with AWCI staff to discuss personnel matters. The course development group was busy through the day as well.
David Lindow brought a Lienhard Rose Engine and Lienhard Straightline Engine for the edification of the attendees, many of which took advantage of the opportunity. AWCI member Jordan Ficklin, knowing the machines would be there, brought a prepared watch dial and turned it on November 5, only to return with it installed in a completed watch on November 6. Many others tried their hand at it, and the machines were busy for most of the weekend.
On Saturday, November 6, discussions on education continued, with Nick Butt leading the Clock Education Committee in giving an update on the year’s progress and the plan for next year. Four clock classes are planned with other possibilities pending. They have also secured funding to get the CA21-Clock Assistant 21st Century- webinars started.
The annual board meeting started at 3 p.m. Along with the regular business on the agenda, which included the swearing in of the new board members, and the reports from the treasurer and the Affiliate Chapters. There were vibrant discussions about the future of education at the institution, as well as some discussion on the subject of AWCI’s nonprofit status as a 501(C)6 as opposed to a 501(C)3, which could possibly eliminate at least some property taxes; albeit, other consequences could have a negative impact.
The Affiliate Chapter representative made a motion upon suggested from the Affiliate Chapter leadership that the board change the “Affiliate Chapter” designation to “Partners.” The board voted it down with only one vote in approval. The Affiliate Chapters chose Chris Carey to be their board representation. The board gave assent to furthering the work of the “education initiative” that would bring the efforts of the NAWCC and the AWCI together regarding clock education that is curricula driven. The group would function as its own entity that would be an affiliate chapter of both organizations. It will be a self-funded group that requires no mandatory giving on the part of either organization, and it would supply trained teachers and classroom materials to both groups and anyone else that would want to use them. The course development group that met the week of the meeting was the first step toward this realization. It appears that a new era of inter-institutional cooperation has been launched.
As hoped, the board emerged from the weekend with a unified vision that can only add to the renewed energy with which AWCI is coming out of the COVID lockdowns and restrictions. Despite an aggressive agenda for education, the board unanimously agreed with the fund trustees that the draw on the Perpetuation Fund should not exceed the previously agreed upon 5.5% maximum, so as to see the fund balance grow. The board is unanimously resolved to not ask for distributions beyond the 5.5%, and fully supports the trustees’ decision on the limit.
The board resolved to see the AWCI headquarters become a hub of activity that draws people to a program that, within a decade, will include a full two-year watch education program along with a machine lab that will have the capacity to build watches from movement to case. The short-term vision includes making certain that when things like the air-conditioning is replaced, the new unit is to be big enough to bring climate control to the sections of the building that presently do not have it.