The Motorcycle Industry Council celebrated its 100th anniversary last week and commemorated this milestone by honoring the association's past as well as continuing to support motorcycling's future. Initially incorporated on Jan. 8, 1914, in New York, NY, the fledgling Motorcycle Manufacturers Association was started by a group of executives and enthusiasts and would eventually become the research, advocacy and promotional organization that is today's MIC.
"We've certainly come a long way," said MIC Board Chair Mark Blackwell. "This is not only a proud moment for everyone who's been a part of the MIC, it's also significant for the motorcycling community as a whole. As we celebrate this milestone, it's important to remember that from the very beginning, the MIC's mission has been to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling and we look forward to continuing with that mission into our next century."
In 1917, the association changed its name to the Motorcycle and Allied Trades Association (M&ATA) and added membership. In 1965, the name was changed to the more all-encompassing Motorcycle, Scooter and Allied Trades Association (MS&ATA).
Four years later, the MS&ATA merged with the California-based Motorcycle Safety Council, which included Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. The result was the formation of the Motorcycle Industry Council as it is known today, with former MS&ATA Executive Secretary Paul McCrillis its first executive director.
In 1970, the MIC settled in Washington, D.C., created an associate membership program for dealers and established the Safety and Education Committee. Over the next 10 years, the organization evolved extensively. James Potter took over as executive director, more emphasis was placed on advocacy and the MIC adopted its first industry statistics program. Also during this period, the MIC initiated its Land Use program and dissolved the associate member class for dealers, a move that has since been rectified.
"Bringing the dealers back to the fold was a high priority for the MIC Board and for our entire staff," said MIC President and CEO Tim Buche, who took office in 1996 and renewed the dealer membership program last year. "While the MIC has always supported dealers by working with them on issues of common interest, we believe that including dealers in our membership helps them grow their collective business and also furthers the MIC's mission to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling with a focus on riders."
The remainder of the 1970s saw the MIC move to Southern California and opt to employ a long-term corporate president, as opposed to an elected, short-term director. The choice for president was Alan Isley, the head of the Statistics Committee at that time. Isley went on to serve in association leadership for 21 years.
During Isley's tenure, the MIC shared the offices, presidential status and staffing with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and the ATV Safety Institute. The Board also increased the Government Relations Office staff to provide more support for legislative activities.
Buche took over the MIC reins when Isley retired in 1996. Soon thereafter, MIC membership exceeded 200 for the first time. Under Buche, the MIC added numerous membership benefits such as the Annual Communications Symposium, and improved market intelligence through proprietary research and statistical reports.
Also during that time, the MIC Board of Directors grew to 12 members, with six elected and six appointed by the motorcycle manufacturers/distributors who pay membership dues based on market share. Since its inception, the MIC Board has been composed of industry luminaries and has traditionally attracted visionaries from all aspects of motorcycling.
The 2014 MIC Board of Directors includes Hans Blesse (BMW Motorrad USA), Steve Bortolamedi (Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.), Russ Brenan (Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.), Jon-Erik Burleson (KTM North America, Inc.), Don Emde (Don Emde Inc.), Frank Esposito (Kendon Industries, Inc.), Robert Gurga (American Honda Motor Co.), Steve Johnson (Tucker Rocky), Larry Little (Marketplace Events), Dennis McNeal (Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A.), Steve Menneto (Polaris Industries) and Sarah Schilke (Schuberth North America).
"The MIC is extremely grateful to our Board of Directors," said Buche. "It's the combined wisdom and leadership that our Board members selflessly provide on an ongoing volunteer basis that allows the MIC to succeed. I can't thank them enough for not only providing direction to our talented staff, but for also helping our members appreciate the returns on their investment in membership dues. The combination of membership dues and volunteer hours makes everything the MIC does possible."
Other recent MIC highlights include creating Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) to help preserve and expand motorized recreation opportunities on public and private lands. The Board also created the Right Rider Access Fund to consolidate the management of three associations' efforts and expand the industry's off-highway vehicle access initiatives and safety support.
"It has been both a privilege and an honor to be a part of today's MIC," added Blackwell. "Over the years, the MIC has benefitted from the support of a number of talented individuals who love the motorcycling community and understand the importance of promoting our industry. The MIC's current executive staff is no different. It is due, in no small part, to their dedication, experience and knowledge that the MIC is where it is today."
Today's MIC executive staff includes President Buche, General Counsel Paul Vitrano, Senior Vice President Government Relations Kathy Van Kleeck, Senior Vice President Member Relations Scot Begovich, Vice President Pamela Amette and Vice President of Research Pat Murphy along with an accomplished staff of 20 association professionals.
"Today's MIC is just as representative of the business interests and the riders as the original 1914 founders," emphasized Buche.
"The MIC's 100th anniversary actually coincides with another landmark event; the 1914 transcontinental ride of motorcyclist Erwin 'Cannon Ball' Baker. Now, 100 years later, motorcyclists are still seeking the same freedom and adventure. And as the MIC enters its second century, we're proud to support the industry's interests and to promote all that motorcycling offers to current and prospective riders."
To that end, the MIC will officially support the May 2014 Cannon Ball Project, a re-creation of Baker's famous ride led by industry veteran and MIC Board member Don Emde.
"The MIC certainly supports the business side of motorcycling," added Buche. "Yet a large part of that is steeped in the fact that we know how much our membership values the sense of discovery and fun that comes from riding. We look forward to offering our constant and unflagging support to the countless generations of current and future motorcyclists."