There’s Just No Way To Say Thank You!
By Carol R. McGinnis, TCA# HE95-41066 Summer 2021
We want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication to TCA of Jim Alexander. He has served as the TCA Webmaster, IT Manager and friend for many years. With this issue of e*Train being the last that he will set up, I think that it would be most appropriate to let the membership know all the hours and commitment he has poured into TCA.
Jim has worked tirelessly for the past 17 years as the Information Technology (IT) person at the National Business Office. In this role he has touched each TCA member in countless ways. Jim, himself, finds that “One of the most rewarding aspects of my role with TCA has been working with the TCA staff – a small group of hard-working people dedicated to producing a heavy volume of services to the membership. Likewise, the opportunity to work with key TCA leaders in breaking new pathways has been most satisfying. It has been a journey of growth and development which I am sure will continue.”
Tammy Hersh, TCA Business Manager, recalls that Jim started working for TCA in July, 2004. He initially reported to Operations Manager John Luppino and then to her, providing assistance for the TCA websites, e*Train, the buy/sell exchange, newsletters, conventions, and more! He managed all of the TCA’s websites, coordinating information flow, helping build TCA’s internal and contracted IT systems, managed the eblast system as an effective outreach effort, dealt with vendors, implemented the online voting program, and helped with the sales of an impressive array of Convention and Member-Only cars.
He laid out the TCA e*Train and assisted its editors in producing all of the issues for many years. In his 17 years, Jim has rebuilt TCA’s websites and other internal systems several times to stay abreast of changing needs.
TCA Past President Bradley Fuller was the one who hired Jim. So he has worked with 16 different Presidents. Jim has made the IT experience with TCA enjoyable. He has always been instrumental in guiding and teaching anything IT that TCA needed to know.
One of the fondest memories Tammy had while working with Jim was when he invited her to have a “private” tour at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA. Jim was the Friends of the Railroad IT manager for many years and invited her to a backstage visit. They were able to go into nonpublic areas and see everything that goes on in the museum. He was a wealth of knowledge and she thoroughly enjoyed it!
Jim has always been able to assist all of TCA in any way that he can. If he didn’t have a solution to any issue that came up, he found the solution even if it took him minutes, hours or days to get it. Jim never left anything undone or hanging at TCA.
Tammy would like to personally thank Jim for a job well done and all of his support since she assumed her position as Business Manager in 2015. He has been instrumental in assisting her in any way possible.
He was one of the first people that Lori Nyce met when she started working at the National Toy Train Library. He came in to update the video on the library’s website, as well as post a picture of her as the new TCA librarian. Over the years, he has provided a great service to the library and TCA with promotion of their resources through email blasts, e*Train articles, website videos, and more. He has done a great job maintaining the PastPerfect database for the museum and the library as well as answering any technical questions that came up. Thanks very much to Jim for all his hard work over the years…he will be greatly missed!
Jim and John Luppino go way back. They got to be friends through the Friends of the Railroad Museum of PA (FRM). Jim served in a number of positions there and one of them was doing IT work to get the Railroad Museum and the FRM into the 20th century before it (the 20th century that is) ended!
After John took up his post at TCA he found that TCA was in the same boat as the FRM and the Railroad Museum of PA. So, John talked to Jim and came up with several proposals to upgrade the TCA online presence, starting with a new Museum and Library website. The biggest challenges were working with the various committees and people and obtaining understanding and consensus on moving forward. These efforts suceeded, with a number of things being accomplished over time.
John likes Jim for a number of reasons. First, Jim listens. Second, he knows his stuff and is good at it. Third, he stays current with his field and always has new ideas on how to improve things. Fourth, it is easy to work with him.
Jim helped in the development of several innovations around the Museum. Barcodes that told about items on the layouts, development of a NTTM mobile site with coupons, the building of the On Track with TCA newsletter, development of a modern local computer network, installation of a WIFI system, and other things.
In relation to Information Technology, Carol was not a newbie, but was certainly not an expert. As the e*Train editor she found Jim very helpful in navigating the intricacies of uploading, editing, formatting, and resizing. He was patient and professional. He went out of his way to work out issues and somehow always asks just the right questions to get the answers.
He never refused a suggestion, although he would discuss options and offer counter suggestions. It always worked out! As he has remarked, “TCA has wonderful stories to tell about the hobby; my challenge has always been to help communicate them in the most effective way.”
I hope that we see him around the museum and library, enjoying his time away from the hustle and bustle of working with TCA!