Rob Johnson Receives the Presidents Award

Ivan Lee began the General Assembly meeting of the BCA with the annual presentation of the Presidents Award. This award goes annually to the person whom the President believes has done the most to promote the industry and who goes above and beyond the normal call of duty in this pursuit. The BCA Presidents award this year was presented to Rob Johnson, Executive Director of the BCA. This is a very popular choice. Mr. Johnson, since he came on board with the BCA five years ago, has endeared himself with everyone with his ability to make all with whom he deals feel like they are his only concern.

In accepting his award Mr. Johnson said:  "Five years ago I was the outsider in this industry. I knew nothing about it, but I saw the passion in the industry. I saw people here putting their hearts and souls into the sport just like those in the motorsport industry from where I came. With the economy being what it is, it has not been a lot of fun the last few years, but with people like we have on the board I am excited to be here."

In a recent interview with Shari Stauch, publisher of Pool & Billiard Magazine, Rob was asked what his biggest contribution to the organization was. He answered: "Helping manage the association through same tough times – the economic downturn was unexpected and a surprise to all of us of course. So, we were coming in with one set of expectations and how we were going to lead the BCA and support the industry – and instead we were forced to do the same thing we  encouraged our membership to do – cut expenses, operate leaner and meaner, and operate more strategically. I'm proud of what we've been able to do in last five years."

Shari pinpointed the reason that Mr. Johnson was such a great choice for this award when she asked: Attempting to satisfy a lot of diverse interests in pool and keep competitors traveling the same road is a challenge. How do you approach this task? He replied: "I try to always keep myself, our staff, our board focused on our mission – that's been my saving grace – Our mission is to enhance the success of our members and promote the game of billiards. That's what needs to guide our strategies and organization – so when a discussion comes up, let's always apply the discussions to our mission… does it fulfill our mission? Even at that point, when there's more than one issue on the table, then we have to look at what can we bite off based on budget, based on staffing and I prioritize from there. The board and the industry has certainly, through the time I've been here, come to realize that they need to come together to weather these tough times. Take the recent example of the counterfeit cues issue -- having those companies work together and educating each other on intellectual property – I don't think that would have happened five years ago"

The interview continued with the question "So, where are we five years later?" Johnson's reply: "From a BCA standpoint – we've had to – like the rest of the industry, get lean and operate more strategically. In the office are myself, Melissa, Shane and a part-time bookkeeper. I'd say few outside this office realize how much we promote pool to the general public on a daily basis. We take phone calls from consumers all the time wanting how to find info about buying a table, where to play in leagues, rules questions. This goes on all day long and we're the Billiard Congress of America so they expect answers . The BCA Expo is still our greatest asset and we continue to look at ways to improve it and make it more beneficial to the industry. Besides the great slate of speakers this year, we're hosting an “Ask the Expert” pavilion featuring those speakers, and are instituting a new Expo Only Specials coupon book. I think that the people who are in the billiard business today are the ones open to change and who have worked hard to exist through the challenges we've been through.  That's BCA and that's our membership. We should all be commended for it.

And where will the next five years take you, the BCA, and the industry? Mr Johnson says: "We'll continue to look at new revenue streams for BCA and new opportunities for our membership that help drive our mission. It's a resilient industry and it will bounce back and we're starting to see signs of that  in a little bit of everything. Members are telling us they're seeing turnarounds, but also what we're seeing is an industry that's grown in their business knowledge and is establishing operating efficiencies that weren't there before by learning how to be strategic and aggressive. Much of our industry has had to step it up in terms of learning to run businesses. The industry is still solid and very much alive – so I'd say I look forward to being part of this continued strong effort from a very dedicated group to keep moving the game forward."

Our hats are off to Rob Johnson. He has a very tough job in very tough times. And he is the coolest cat on a hot tin roof we have ever known. He wears his responsibilities without an external showing of the stress that he must certainly be under and he treats everyone as not just business colleagues, but as friends.

AZBilliards wishes to thank very heartily Shari Stauch of Pool & Billiard Magazine for her work on this story. Check out Pool & Billiard at