…just who are we, and how did we come to be America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association™ (AGLCA)?……
The early years….
AGLCA was formed in 1999 by Ron and Eva Stob after they discovered, cruised and became enchanted with the Great Loop. Since its inception, the organization’s focus, commitment and purpose has remained the same: to share general, navigational and cruising information about eastern North America’s waterways; and, to enhance the overall experience of learning about, dreaming of – as well as exploring and safely cruising America’s Great Loop.
What began as a small "mom and pop operation" (literally), soon became so successful that AGLCA required more attention than Ron and Eva anticipated. And, while extraordinarily proud of AGLCA’s development, by 2007, the Stobs knew the association’s popularity was facilitating growth in a manner necessitating more administrative ‘hands’ to allow its continued evolution. The Stobs were in a quandary though. How would they find "the right people" to take over and nurture the association they so carefully developed and dearly loved? It would require a "family touch".
The kismet phase….
Kismet, fate, destiny – whatever word you chose, there’s no other way to describe how the transition from founders to current owners happened.
While in Charleston, SC, in December, 2006, scouting out locations for the 2007 Spring Rendezvous, the Stobs enjoyed a dinner with friends, Steve and Janice Kromer. The Kromers were avid boaters, and AGLCA members for years (not to mention, Steve had been AGLCA’s volunteer Cruisers’ Email Coordinator for some time). As it was to the Stobs, a "family touch" was pretty important to the Kromers. Janice and Steve had run a family business together since 1975 (a telecommunications database operation). They successfully grew their business with special focus on quality, detail and customer service. The Kromers have two daughters, Stephanie and Kim, who were pretty much born into the business, and have been active partners for years. So, to the Kromers, family fundamentals functioned fully, and a "family touch" was simply part of business as usual. ….….Oh, and did we mention, at this same time in 2007, the Kromers were investigating possible ways to diversify their family business? And, one primary prerequisite was that any diversification pursued had to be something about which they felt deeply passionate.
So, kismet brought them together that night; and, a little wine facilitated a heartfelt discussion of how the association had just found its new home.
Now, a bit more about the current crew at the helm…
As mentioned above, the Kromers have a significant amount of boating under their belt – both have a long history with the US Power Squadron in Charleston. Janice is a former Squadron Commander and Steve served six years as Educational Officer. They have a 50’ Marine Trader, No Sense3, and – presently – they’re partially Looped. Oh, and they’ve cruised part of the Loop too. Together, they’ve gone from Ft. Lauderdale to Chesapeake Bay and Steve has also crewed from Chesapeake Bay to Chicago. So, Steve’s a little more Loopy than Janice – but it’s part of his charm.
Occasionally, you may see "KFR Services, Inc." connected to America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association™in one way or another. Sounds fancy doesn’t it? Well, we’re about to demystify that a bit. Betcha you can guess the "K" is for Kromer, right? And, remember the two daughters we mentioned earlier? When Stephanie and Kim officially became partners in the business, their last names were incorporated into the company name. So, the "F" is for Stephanie’s last name, Fetchen – and the "R" represents Kim’s last name, Russo. Thus, KFR Services, Inc.
And – here’s a little glimpse of how they all serve AGLCA –
So, the tradition in which AGLCA was founded continues on – we really are one big family!
Now, the Kromers aren’t super-humans – so, to help get things done, KFR Services does have some additional team members onboard; and, technically, these folks are not "blood-family" – but they are considered ‘enhanced family’. Two of the ‘enhanced team’ are focused on AGLCA operations.
Since Steve and Janice took over America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association from Ron and Eva Stob, they have invited a group of respected Loopers to participate in an Advisory Council and offer input on questions and situations that come up throughout the year. These dedicated individuals provide advice on an on-going basis and most often come to Rendezvous as volunteers to help with the event. The AGLCA Home Port Crew turns to them often when we'd like opinions from Loopers that are not on our staff.