Club management tool gives car fan driving time – New membership management tool for non-profits

Dan Ehrmann likes cool British cars and fast Web sites. Which makes his latest venture a labor of love.

After admiring them from afar for some time, Ehrmann finally purchased a Morgan automobile four years ago. The car is made by the family-owned Morgan Automobile Co. (, the oldest private car manufacturer in the world, according to Ehrmann.


About 500 new cars are put on the market each year–but you wouldn’t know they’re new because the various Morgan models look much like they did earlier in the 20th Century.

"The new cars look like the old cars," said Ehrmann. "My car is 4 years old and it looks like the car did 50 years ago."

The car became his passion, and after attending several Morgan club gatherings and shows, Ehrmann decided to start a Chicago organization, the Windy City Morgan Owners Group (

The group launched about three years ago and has about 65 members.

And because it was his idea, Ehrmann got to operate the club.

Which meant managing lists, stuffing envelopes and peeling lots of mailing labels.

"Running a volunteer organization can take you away from your passion," Ehrmann said. "I wanted to spend more time working on my car and driving my car, but I was doing mailing labels and updating databases."

So Ehrmann–a database programmer by trade–set out to find a solution. But nothing off the shelf met his criteria. He wanted a club-management tool that was Web-based so he could access and update data on the run from any computer with an Internet connection.

"I thought, `Wouldn’t it be cool if you can do all this on the Internet?’"

It would be, but Ehrmann said an affordable solution did not yet exist for the small club.

"There’s plenty of solutions for the high-end [high-budget] association market out there. And I did find some desktop-based software, but the Internet is the way to go."

So last August, he started a company called Gembrook Systems LLC and a Web site called Club Express (, which does everything he wanted for own club.

The site’s tag line: "More passion … less paperwork."

Here’s how it works: For a $150 setup fee a club or association can have its database transferred to the system. A Web site with password protection also is included. So is the ability to process memberships and take credit card payments online.

Member areas can include calendars, meeting minutes, event photos and documents.

The monthly cost is 40 cents per member, or about 15 percent of an enthusiast club’s typical membership fee of about $35 per month, according to Ehrmann.

"People love it," he said, adding that clients can update their site at any time through a Web-based administration panel. "They can run their organization online, and there are no limits whatsoever."

Most of all, Ehrmann loves it because it lets him tinker with his car while the organization takes care of itself.

A free demo of Club Express, including a complete instruction manual, is available at


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