OABA At The North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention
At the North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention January 4th-6th, 2018, Bob Johnson, President of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA), addressed the convention attendees in order to update them about OABA business. Johnson talked about the hot-button issue on everyone's mind: H-2B legislation. He also had the opportunity to discuss new ventures the OABA will take on in 2018 and other exciting news regarding the organization.
Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina was the other keynote speaker at the North Carolina Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention. He spoke on Friday, January 5th and was able to give convention attendees some hope regarding H-2B legislation. "Senator Tillis is a crusader for our industry regarding H2B labor as is Roy Blunt of Missouri," says Johnson.
The OABA is currently planning an event to take place in Florida this February which will feature Senator Tillis speaking to stakeholders in the industry about H-2B legislation. Details are still being hashed out according to Johnson but they are thinking the talk will take place February 9th sometime in the morning.
General H2B/OABA Update
Johnson stressed that the OABA's focus regarding H-2B labor and legislation is to get away from band-aid fixes to the problem and look ahead at legislation to make real change in the industry. "A lot of people have this idea in their heads that H-2B takes away American jobs when in fact H-2B labor saves American jobs; every H-2B worker saves 4.5 American jobs most of which include benefits and competitive pay," says Johnson. H-2B labor fills a seasonal niche in the U.S. he added.
The 53rd annual meeting for the OABA is coming up in February. This is the first year that the Hall Of Fame inductee slate is completely female. "Patty Sullivan and Jane Baxter are being inducted. They have served 10 years on the board and are long time association and industry contributors," says Johnson. Additionally, Linda Brewer is receiving the Industry Pioneer Award. She has served as a teacher for several carnivals including NAME and Deggeller Attractions.
The board of the OABA is made up of nine members: Jay Strates of Strates Shows is the incoming Chairman and currently serves as 1st Vice Chairman, EJ Dean of Dean & Flynn Fiesta Shows is the outgoing Chairman, Larry Yaffe, formerly of Firestone Financial Corp. serves as the 2nd Vice Chairman. At the annual meeting, the 3rd Vice Chairman of the organization will be chosen. Mitchell Kaliff of Kaliff Insurance is the Treasurer, Tom Gaylin of Rosedale Attractions & Shows is the Trustee 2016, Bob Johnson is President of OABA, Michael Wood of Wood Entertainment Co. is Trustee 2015, and Chris Lopez of Ray Cammack Shows is Trustee 2014.
In addition to board members there is a group of Directors and Directors at Large who help make up the leadership of the organization. The OABA has a small but dedicated staff; Bob Johnson has been President for 23 years, Al Derusha is the Senior Vice President, Dee Dee Alford is the Vice President, Tom Powell is the OABA News Ambassador, and Kristin Shenk is the Manager of Programs and Services.
The committees included in the OABA structure are: Executive Board, Admin Review, By-Laws, Policies, and Procedures, Committee, Convention/Industry Planning, Education & Safety, Excellence, Finance, Fundraising: Ways &Means/Jamborees & Contribution Fund, Grievance, HOF & Historical, Membership, Nominating, OABA PAC, Past Chairs, Performance Review, and Strategic Planning.
What's Next For The OABA
The OABA is also working on rolling out new virtual, online training programs for carnival employee training. OABA teamed up with a company called Learning Zen to create the online program. The training platform is called "VOLT" and covers topics such as Ride Safety with sub-training in maintenance, inspection, and operations. Other education categories include worker safety, guest services, and food and games concessions. Once the training modules are completed, employees receive a certification. Johnson believes that the online training program will make it easier for carnival owners to ensure their workers have gone through necessary training and the certification that comes from the program will be an easy and efficient way to show state regulators that all employees have completed the modules necessary for their position.
OABA Chairman EJ Dean has spearheaded the VOLT project along with the Education Committee. It is available for use now but they are still doing some testing and hoping to have all the modules both in English and Spanish. According to Johnson, the VOLT program is used for training zoo workers and employees at indoor amusement areas. Anyone interested in utilizing the VOLT program should contact Marc Janas.
The OABA will also focus on expanding and maintaining their Circle of Excellence Program. The goal of the Circle of Excellence Program is to improve the business climate for OABA members and raise public perceptions of the mobile amusement industry. Carnivals, independent ride owners, or concessionaires can earn the Circle of Excellence distinction. Any company interested in attaining the Circle of Excellence designation must go through the quality assessment audit created and copywritten by the OABA. In order to maintain the Circle of Excellence designation, companies must go through future audits as well.
Membership into the OABA is always open. There are multiple membership levels depending on your role in the industry. From associate member to carnival of 40+ rides to circus producer to manufacturer, there is a membership level for everyone and dues prices vary. OABA memberships can be purchased through their website, oaba.org.