As per the bylaws of the American Mead Makers Association, it is my duty as President to communicate a progress report to our membership at the midpoint between our annual meetings. I treat this, enthusiastically, as an opportunity to exhibit our continued level of dedication and transparency to our membership.
I am proud to report that membership counts have been on a steady rise. Since the 2018 annual meeting in March, we have gained 167 new memberships, 40 of which are new Meadery in Planning memberships, which is amazing to see. We have also seen a terrific increase in Trade memberships from what I believe is directly related to all of the work the Association has put in over these past few months demonstrating our commitment and value to the industry.
I am proud of all the work our team has put in to have achieved the short term success we have thus far.
To offer direct representation to our home mead makers, the AMMA officially formed our very own Home Governing Committee led by Bob Slanzi. This committee has shown a tremendous amount of work ethic and perseverance in adding value to our Individual level membership.
I would like to congratulate our Home Governing Committee for all of the work they have done in just the past 5 months, and Bob for his leadership.
Most remarkably, they have provided our members with five unique membership-only deals that have added up to $9,020 in savings on the purchase of 18,000 lbs of honey! If you need honey to support your mead making hobby, it has become rather evident that signing up to support that AMMA is well worth the price of admission.
The Home Governing Committee was also the driving force behind creating a recipes section on the AMMA website. While the current catalogue is still relatively small, the foundation has been set for it to continue to be expanded on for the years to come.
This has been an amazing start from a Committee that I feel will become one of the most integral assets of the AMMA in the very near future.
Our Legislative Committee, led by our Vice President, Greg Heller-LaBelle, has also been doing a keen job at keeping us all afloat of what has been going on at both federal and state levels. Town hall meetings have been hosted with clear explanation of each topic of discussion while also addressing questions and concerns our membership has had. Posts have also been published regularly on these matters on the AMMA website for referring back to. What Greg brings to the table for the AMMA and our membership is an invaluable and broad understanding of the law, particularly concerning exactly how it affects the mead industry as a whole. While some matters might seem like the end of the world at the moment of its manifestation, Greg does an excellent job of painting a clear picture of what it really means, how to work with or around it, or even how other alternative outcomes may have actually been worse in some cases. He keeps us grounded, informed and hopeful, and is looking forward to directing some more efforts to loosen restrictions at the federal level for our commercial meadery members.
Our Marketing Committee is gearing up for a significant advertising plan while we await the final steps in having $10k per month in free Google Ad dollars at our disposal. This will serve as a tremendous opportunity for building upon mead awareness and to continue pushing mead further up the ladder alongside beer, wine & cider. Our Treasurer, Brian Wing, has been doing a great job in playing a key role in getting us to the finish line on this.
While our initial intent was to host robust forums on the AMMA site, forums have largely given way to discussions on social media. Our AMMA Facebook group has evolved to contain a wealth of information over these past few years. It has been a place frequented by professional and home mead makers alike, answering questions on a variety of topics rarely found anywhere else.
When we look at the value we strive to provide our membership, we feel that our Facebook group, along with all of its resources, is a significant one, and it is something that we have simply been giving away. While we support the sharing of information, we feel that leaving the group open to even non-members is a disservice to our supporting paid members.
Seeing that, we have recently taken steps to expand our social media presence with the addition of member-only groups on Facebook for Individual Members, Corporate Members and Meadery in Planning Members respectively, essentially, giving our social media presence a somewhat forum style approach.
This serves two purposes:
- It allows for more focused discussion with more like-minded individuals
- It allows for a simpler method in the AMMA being able to find and respond to certain posts in a more accurate and effective manner if need be
The legacy Facebook group will remain open to all as an introductory venue for the AMMA and its activities as a whole, but we ask for you all to join your corresponding group for discussions moving forward. In order to join a members only group, you just simply need to provide your AMMA Member ID under the required question to answer in your request to join.
We have taken steps to implement a new web based project management software. This has allowed us to keep a live view into ongoing progress on a multitude of projects while also providing a seamless method of collaboration between our workforce. Projects are assigned to individuals for everyone to see who is working on what, which also adds a nice level of accountability. Long gone are the days of ideas and projects being left in the dark and never coming to fruition. This has been a great step in keeping our momentum going in ensuring forward progress within the Association.
RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM
We have recently opened the submission window for our second annual Research Grant Program. Last year’s winner, Carolyn Peepall, presented a terrific tasting of a variety of meads made using different bacteria-free souring organisms. Details on the project and tasting notes from over 50 individuals that attended the tasting at the AMMA Conference was published in Food Microbiology Journal. We are looking forward to receiving all of your proposal submissions for this year’s grant.
THE AMMA CONFERENCE
Lastly, the 2018 conference was a great success compromised of a multitude of terrific speakers, presentations and camaraderie between mead makers from all around the globe. As you may have noticed over the past few weeks, our Conference Committee, led by the one and only, Vicky Rowe, has been hard at work diligently planning the 2019 conference with the opening of speaker submissions and early bird ticket pricing, just to name a few.
The AMMA Conference is very near and dear to us, as it is to our attending members and the mead world overall. As enormous and costly of an undertaking as it may be to host a conference such as ours, it plays a significant role in pushing mead forward. It has become the single most mead-centric event of the year, attended and presented by mead makers from all around the world. It is where bonds are made, the best ideas are shared, and where real mead industry talk is taking place. All of which, leading into the largest commercial and amateur mead competitions in the world, the Mazer Cup International.
That is why we felt that it was important that we solidify not only the integrity of the event, but also its identity for years to come. With that, we have decided to officially brand the conference as Mead Con, as well as establish its own logo that is as modern as it is timeless.
One more step we will be taking to enhance the complete Mead Con experience will be to take a more modern approach with the delivery of how we make the content from each conference available to you all after it is all done. Downloading large video files directly to your computer or device will be a thing of the past. Instead, we will be working on offering audio recordings available for streaming on both iTunes and GooglePlay, with an option to even purchase only specific tracks that you are the most interested in listening to.
As of this moment in time, our Corporate membership count does not reflect even half of the estimated number of meaderies in this country. I find this unacceptable. Not necessarily from the viewpoint of why a commercial meadery has not joined yet, but from the viewpoint of an Association that I guess hasn’t done enough to convince them to do so.
I am not here to try to dazzle you into submission. I would rather, with our actions, inspire you to want to be part of the movement that is committed to growing and improving the very industry you are all in.
Our efforts to promote and protect mead have become more and more evident. Our foundation is strong and stable, and we have already brought a tremendous amount of value to our Corporate Members that the cost of admission more than pays for itself.
As the next few months progress, I would like for you to pay close attention to what the AMMA continues to accomplish, provide our membership and do for mead overall. Then, I would hope that you are inspired enough to show your support in helping us continue to support you.
The AMMA has been hard at work. While I have touched on a lot in this letter, rest assured that there are many other projects that are also already underway..
The 2019 Mead Con is gearing up to be our best one yet. With the way these past few months have been progressing, I am more optimistic about the future of the AMMA and the mead industry overall than I have ever been, and I hope you all are as well.
Thank you to everyone involved that has put in the effort and time to serve our membership and helping us become and remain the leader in promoting and protecting mead. I look forward to seeing you all in Colorado in March, sharing some mead with you, and making it all another memorable event.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and thank you for supporting the AMMA.