The Tri-State MUG team has grown into mid-Atlantic states coverage. Not bad for three years of work.
In 1999 the Mac user group (MUG) was “The Delaware Valley MUGs.” At that time, Daniel East — now the founder and president of the Mid-Atlantic MUG Team (MaMUGs) — answered a request from area MUGs to coordinate the efforts towards getting Apple and their third party vendors and manufacturers to come and present their products in their suburban Philadelphia area.
“The idea was to make it more cost effective for a company that might not see the value in visiting one or two groups at a time,” East said. “We would put a few groups together in one meeting and really draw a crowd that might be equal to or, in many cases, larger than what a vendor might get in a larger single group or a corporate setting. In addition, we found the people at Apple to be both helpful and encouraging in our efforts so the meetings got bigger still.”
His background includes work in national music promotion and production, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia area’s “Bucks & Montgomery Counties’ Macintosh Users Group” (BUX-MONT MUG). All this came in handy in setting up an event that he equates with the booking of a small concert tour.
“There are certainly several MUG organizations that do an excellent job in various regions,” East said. “We really try to work together like an ‘iFamily,’ if you will. For me, working with these vendors and our MUGs was just ‘second nature’ and something exactly like what we do in our own offices every day; just for a different application.”
“Word-of-mouth” caused a rapid growth bringing more interest and member MUGs, he said. The Tri-State MUG Team was formed in 2000 to address the growing needs of the community and to promote cooperative efforts, community, collective events and camaraderie between MUGs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Deleware.
“After getting involved in Macworld Expos, community projects and User Group Universities, more and more people took an interest,” East said. “We just want to keep meetings fun and inviting so that the MUG community can grow and develop in a way that promotes teamwork and cohesiveness. As we’re all volunteers, we realize that if it’s not fun and interesting, no one will bother to participate.”
Vice-President, Randy Decker has been involved with the program since 1999. He said it’s tough for some of the groups to get what might be considered nothing to a larger group.
“We try to give everyone the same options,” said Decker, who also serves on the board of directors for Bux-Mont MUG. But now even the larger MUGs are part of the team. “When we see people really appreciate what we do — when they really ‘get’ what the demo or presentation is — that amazing feeling is the whole point of our efforts. I think that a lot of people just feel left out and really want to know more which is, of course, their whole reason for joining a MUG in the first place.”
MaMUGs now incorporates MUGs from Connecticut to Virginia. MaMUGs also works in cooperation with other User Group organizations worldwide to act as a resource for services and information. MaMUGs also maintains the “1AppleFreeTech” free technical support e-mail list as well as a list exclusively for MUG leaders in the region.
The member MUGs work together to plan special events, presentations and MacDinners. MaMUGs work to foster cooperative relationships with vendors, software/hardware developers, and other Mac-related companies. They also assist new software developers and startups looking for exposure for their new item.
“We really try to make the events,” said Jacki Moore, treasurer and events coordinator for MaMUGs. “It’s the kind of thing that changes constantly, so it’s always really interesting and fun to be a part of, not just to plan.”