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People Helping People

Charity news from around the F.O.E.

Brunswick, Ohio - April 2021

In late 2019, when the idea to improve Brunswick Aerie 3505’s internet service was broached, the principal objection was that improved connectivity would not bring in new members. Was that the goal? The COVID related Aerie shutdown in 2020 delayed several items, such as Officer elections. Yet, it also provided the catalyst for much needed improvements. One development driven by Aerie member Chris Lattner and his wife, Auxiliary member Kelly, during the shutdown was the painting of the interior. This was a reminder to members a project could be done at a fraction of the cost using volunteers. 

“The technology decision was based on two primary needs: Improve club communications. And provide updated amenities our members were requesting,” said Aerie President Terry Wise.

When the old systems were installed, the Aerie had 600 members. The systems were not integrated but had been piecemealed over ten years. The initial idea was to improve each of the three areas one at a time in order to keeps costs manageable. But a more thorough review showed technology had improved dramatically, and there needed to be a better understanding of what existed before replacement could be considered.

For example, security involving card key access and cameras were a principal problem effecting Aerie access and parking lot safety. Computer servers and workstations were difficult to access and manage, and provided no data protection. Total project costs were estimated in excess of $30,000 for equipment alone. Budgeting still had to be considered for implementation, training, and ongoing maintenance. Plus, membership had grown to over 1,400 members, a growth of over 200%. 

When Michael Getz became a member he brought with him extensive IT experience, which the Aerie quickly leveraged. Michael was asked to lend his expertise to help the club address critical technology needs. As the project’s scope began to develop it quickly became apparent that the Aerie needed someone with a technology foundation to ensure any investment in the infrastructure could be maintained, and Michael accepted an assignment as Trustee with IT as his primary responsibility. 

While the improvement costs were prohibitive, another problem was dealing with the existing vendors, which in some cases were Aerie members. Replacing old hardware and outdated software maintained by vendors whose long-term membership had garnered them considerable support within the Aerie, encountered pushback. However, simultaneous with the desire to improve the base technology were incoming younger members whose average age was in the 40s. These individuals were bringing with them smartphones and social media needs, which required improvement in technology. Of the 89 new members in 2019, approximately 30% could be considered technology savvy. 

Some things were easy to accomplish, such as increasing the internet speed to one appropriate for a business. Others demanded an evaluation of providers and various vendors were brought in to propose solutions. And finally, an important consideration: What equipment could be reused either through repair, or by upgrading software. A business class router, implementation of a firewall that could enable network segmentation of gaming, core computing, guest wireless service, and separate networks managed by partitioning had to be setup. 

Printers were a hodge-podge mix of devices. Printers with different capabilities effected productivity and were an expensive burden. A printer unique to the production of membership receipts for the Aerie Secretary, and multifunction copier/printer/scanners were a necessity. While the printers were a cost, new printing solutions showed a potential reduction in usage costs. This was also true of maintenance costs, with a return on investment in increased productivity further reducing the projected expense of the project cost to roughly $9,000, a 2/3 drop. Systems could now be accessed remotely and updated on a daily basis to reflect such things as changing menus and prices. Antivirus protection, and server data replicated to off premise facilities ensured business data would be recoverable. This included regular snapshots of all Aerie computers and this information is also backed up, so in the event a computer fails it may be easily restored to a new piece of hardware. 

Beyond the 60% hard costs savings, added dollars saved were realized by repairing faulty wiring which temporarily solved the security camera issue until a longer term solution can be examined. Reusing old equipment allowed for the implementation of a display screen to publish news events, and general information to greets members upon entering the Aerie. But the biggest savings stemmed from minimal consulting fees, and reduced post warranty maintenance costs. 

Now that the Aerie has a new POS, gaming, reporting, and back office system, thoughts have turned to integrating the POS to QuickBooks, Cloud storage, streaming meetings to keep members isolated at home informed, and simple wiring and plug-and-play components to minimize service disruption. “The club has everything it needs to implement these solutions, once we have a secure setup in terms of policies and procedures.” Michael Getz, Trustee and IT Administrator.

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The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international nonprofit organization, unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.

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