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APR 4, 2024 | By John M. Clor

Reborn International Council Of Mustang Clubs Hosts A Summit To Expand The Hobby

People standing with Club Connect Banner

BIRCH RUN, Mich. – If you are an active Ford enthusiast club member, did you know that there’s been a years-long series of regional club “summit” meetings hosted by the Mustang Owners Club of SouthEastern Michigan (MOCSEM) that had eventually added Ford Racing and now the Ford Performance Club Connect program? If not, then this is something you should know about. Held each February in the outlet-mall town of Birch Run, Michigan, these annual meetings have grown into a can’t-miss opportunity for clubs looking to share best practices and growth ideas that have shown promise to work in the real world and keep clubs successful. The brainchild of MOCSEM’s longtime president, Mike Rey, this year’s Midwest Club Summit had invited clubs registered in the Ford Performance Club Connect program from across five neighboring states as well as from the nearly 100 member-clubs in the newly reenergized International Council of Mustang Clubs.

Initially pegged a decade ago as a getaway-weekend planning session for the MOCSEM board to map out its upcoming year, the Friday-Saturday overnight event soon added a Sunday to its agenda. That’s because Rey wanted MOCSEM to share its internal Saturday work-session findings and ideas at a Sunday seminar for other Mustang clubs in the area so that all could work together in order to help create a better Ford club member experience across the entire region. Each year it grew -- from clubs in the Meto Detroit area and including those in Lower Michigan, then expanding to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois – even Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

By recently adding a ZOOM meting function, participants didn’t even have to make the drive to the hotel conference room for the Summit – although some wives had wanted to tag along for the weekend road trip because Birch Run offered both a day at the outlet mall off of I-75 as well as a day in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Road-trip warriors familiar with driving in The Mitten State – or even billboard spotters who travel up and down I-75’s Midwest corridor – have likely either been to or have seen the signs for Frankenmuth, a Bavarian-themed little community in “The Thumb” area of Michigan. It’s home to Bronner’s, “The World’s Largest Christmas Store,” as well as the mega family-style restaurants Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn, where you can get their “World-Famous Chicken Dinners.” This tourist town is chock full of quaint shops and unique stores catering to nearly every shop-a-holic – not to mention having a downtown brewery and a winery.

With the addition of invites to the International Council of Mustang Clubs – which had recently been turned over to Rey for a shot of new leadership – this year’s Summit included some 40 club participants, about half in-person and the rest joining via ZOOM from clubs all across the country – and even from Italy, Germany, Belgium and the UK. Ford Performance Club Connect shared a special presentation that revealed findings from travels to clubs and shows all over the United States and offered strategies to successfully engage with younger Mustangers and enhance club growth.

The best part was that all of the participating clubs joined in to share ideas and needs – even those from overseas. And all got the chance to meet Joe Bellino, Ford’s new Mustang Brand Manager, who made the drive up from Detroit to speak to the group about Mustang and to host a spirited Q & A session. Yes, it was a long day – the Summit ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. – but most all club representatives said the time was well spent as they gained a lot of fresh perspective. Some even suggested that Ford’s Club Connect program should expand this annual club summit meetings concept to regions all across the country. That way, all clubs could get free guidance on how to make changes to a club’s “product” (which is essentially the membership experience offered – including events) that will bring in new, younger and even would-be Mustang owners.

If your club is located in one of the Midwest states but missed the summit invite, it’s likely because the club contact person you have listed on the FordPerformanceClubConnect.com map doesn’t check their email (or their spam file) often -- or your club may even have the wrong contact person listed. (You can send an email to ClubHub@Ford.com to update your club info at any time.) If you are outside the region but would like to get invited next time and join via ZOOM, you can contact ClubHub@Ford.com and get your name added to next year’s invite list, or simply join the International Council of Mustang Clubs (www.mustangcouncil.com) and include your contact info there.

It was rewarding to hear all of the work that clubs are doing in the Ford enthusiast community and how they have strived to make the Mustang hobby so inclusive -- open to all ages, races, genders and product interests (and yes – that even includes fans of EV’s). The main takeaway from the International Council of Mustang Clubs 2024 Summit meeting was that it took the efforts of many clubs to get Mustang to the lofty image it still enjoys after these 60 years of being on the market -- and it will take more club efforts to help introduce this fun-filled lifestyle experience to the next generation of Ford and Mustang owners. If you share in that vision, then you could be only one club summit meeting away from making your club grow and prosper! Happy Birthday, Mustang!