Stu Jones has been in the poker-run organizing game for more than a quarter of a century. His Florida Powerboat Club business has expanded and contracted during the years with the economy, life changes among club members, new poker runs outside his own and much more. For 26 years, the Florida Powerboat Club, which is based in Pompano Beach, Fla., has been a constant in the high-performance powerboating world.
Jones isn’t going anywhere, nor is the Florida Powerboat. But if you read yesterday’s story about the Emerald Coast Poker Run, you might have noticed an interesting statement from the FPC leader.
“After 21 years of enjoying this great poker run venue, I have come to the realization that this event really needs a strong local team to plan and oversee the event,” Jones said in the story. “Ryan Christen has worked with us for two years as our video and media support team, but he is also a retired firefighter, and has displayed tremendous management skills at safety support and course logistics. Along with a new team that he will assemble, I will work from the sidelines and stay very much involved with the event. And I’ll be enjoying it as a participant, rather than an organizer, in my Project 1080 Cigarette next year.”
My first question—of course—was if the Emerald Coast Poker run will still be a Florida Powerboat Club event. Jones assured me it would. My second was if this practice, a first for the club according to Jones, of having a local point person oversee “a local committee of key players that will handle all local sponsorship, safety management, course logistics and public relations going forward” is a future direction for the club. Jones assured me it is.
“It’s a boots-on-the-ground kind of thing,” Jones said. “I don’t live in the places where we put on most of our poker runs. I live in Pompano Beach, so the FPC poker runs in the Keys are in my backyard and I can handle those myself. But if we want the club to grow, it’s important to change things up and work with a local event manager who is on point with the Florida Powerboat Club and the way we do things.
“So far, the Emerald Coast run is our only 2020 event where we have a local organizer in place, but it is the future for the Florida Powerboat Club,” he continued. “By bringing in new blood at the local organizing level, we make those events even better. We, the Florida Powerboat Club, can work with the manufacturer sponsors and handle registration. They can work with local sponsors and handle operations during the events. Next year, I plan to run my Project 1080 Cigarette in the Emerald Coast Poker Run as a participant, not an organizer.”
Jones said he would eventually like to employ the same satellite organizer strategy at most of his poker runs. He emphasized his need to find the right local people for the job, and that those people will need to be completely in sync with the Florida Powerboat Club’s practices from safety programs to post-run banquets.
“I’m getting smarter as I get older,” he said, then laughed. “As a business person, I see the value in recruiting smart, qualified people. It all feeds into the big machine, the Florida Powerboat Club, we have created. I love what we have created, but it really is a big machine and it can bite you if you let it run amuck—and I can’t be everywhere. Taking on individual, locally based organizers at our venues will help on many levels.”