The owners group is run from the US and from my limited knowledge was originally a 'Yahoo' group but @Tyler, @Shane and the US can give more detail on that area.History of the FOG, as told by Shane Holland.
Many years ago, Festool was... wait a minute what the heck is Festool?! A virtual unknown in the U.S. market. It was the year 2003-ish. An enthusiast named Matthew Schenker found Festool and realized that there was not a good resource of information on the products. Men needed to work together to devise ways to hide Systainers from their spouses! So, the birth of the FOG was conceived. And the Festool Fans rejoiced.
The FOG started out on a platform called Yahoo Groups. That's why the FOG has the word "Groups" in the name.
At the time, I had just started working for a Festool dealer and found the Group and joined. As I recall, there wasn't much content or participation, and very few FOGgers. Maybe we should be called FOGgies, since groupies are a thing. Hmm.
You can see what it looked like on the Wayback Machine
Over the years, the FOG membership grew and in 2007 the FOG was relocated to its current platform, free software called Simple Machine Forum (SMF) to give Matthew more control over the look, feel and functionality of the forum. As I recall, the original Yahoo Groups content was not migrated. So, it is lost forever. Also, in the year 2007, the Festool dealer I was working for at the time was sold and I was fortunate enough to be offered a job with Festool USA. This isn't an autobiography, but I my story have been interwoven with this place over the years, as you'll see below.
Being an employee of Festool USA, I began featuring the FOG in our email newsletters to help build awareness for the forum. Festool saw the forum as a great resource for its customers, of course. Matthew continued to run and operate the forum as its administrator, and I forgot to mention that there were no moderators at the time.
In 2007ish, a group of FOG members decided that they wanted to have their own place to interact. This was partially because of bad feeling between Matthew and these members. So, they broke off from the FOG and created talkFestool, a forum that still exists today. This caused some fracturing in the membership and some tense times. The forum was somewhat in chaos and there was a fair amount of unrest between members and the forum's founder.
In July 2008, Festool filed a WIPO claim
to take ownership of the festoolownersgroup.com domain name
. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center provides time- and cost-efficient mechanisms to resolve internet domain name disputes, without the need for court litigation. It's not entirely uncommon for companies with registered trademarks to care about how their brands and trademarks are being used. For instance, Dewalt will not even let their dealers use "dewalt" in their domain names. Because of some of the activities on the FOG, Festool felt like it was in its best interest to ask for control of the domain so that in the event that the tension between members escalated, there would be a way to remove the Festool brand from the negativity. Matthew did not like the WIPO filing and decided to shut the FOG down
until this matter was resolved. It was a dark day in the history of the FOG. And the FOG members had much free time.
Matthew told Festool that the forum would stay offline unless Festool purchased it from him. In July 2009, the FOG was acquired by Festool USA and became a company-owned website. I became the forum's administrator (told you I played a role). And Festool USA quickly went about trying to restore peace on the forum, create a welcoming environment for everyone (including the talkFestool defectors), and to institute the first member-moderators on the forum to help give complete transparency. This was a bit of a rebirth for the forum. And the FOG members were optimistic.
In 2008ish, nominations were requested from the forum's members for member-moderators. Afterwards, a poll was created and members elected the first two FOG moderators, @Peter Halle
and @Forrest Anderson
of Scotland. And the FOG members rejoiced.
The moderators have been essential to the success of the forum over the past 8 years. Lending their time and efforts to help their fellow members, keep the forum on track by helping to implement its guidelines, and being positive role models for the forum. I cannot say enough about the respect I have for the moderators and what they have done for this online community. Around the end of 2014, Forrest reached out to Peter and I to let us know that he would be going on holiday to a cabin of his where there was no internet. We wished him well and to enjoy his time away from the forum. Unfortunately, he never returned to the forum and we still don't know why. After many months, we decided that we should find another moderator to fill his spot. Nominations and elections were held again and @SRSemenza
(Seth) was elected. And the FOG members were pleased.
Over the years, we've had a lot of members come and go. Many have given selflessly to contribute to the knowledge base that exists here. A few were, um, not-so-helpful let's say. But, all-in-all, I think the forum had grown and flourished because of its members. Sharing their projects, their experience, their advice and their time with virtual friend and those who share a passion for woodworking and Festool. It's a beautiful thing and I've been blessed to be a part of it for over a decade now. YOU
are the reason this place exists and is what it is. Unfortunately, we've also seen some of our brothers and sisters on the FOG pass on. It's been hard to lose some of our friends, but their legacy lives on, in part because of their contributions here. Those members' accounts have been marked with an angel avatar in their memory.
The forum continued to grow every month. Its reach broadened and new members signed up all over the world. If I remember correctly, the UK represents the second largest population of FOG members with Australia and Canada tied for third. We have members from all over Europe, South Africa, even some in Asia. Probably over a hundred dealers have signed up on the FOG over the years. Some have gone, others are still very active here on the forum. I encouraged my then-colleagues from other Festool subsidiaries to participate in the forum, especially Festool UK and Festool Australia. In 2014, our dear friend and Festool guru, Mr. @Phil Beckley
, joined the forum and became an integral part of this community by sharing his vast knowledge and supporting Festool customers in the UK and Ireland. For those of you in other countries, if you want to see the representation for members and dealers outside of the U.S. grow, invite your friends and dealers to the forum. For those inside of the U.S., no need to invite more dealers.
In early 2015, I decided to change jobs and come to work for The Tool Nut with a bunch of guys who are passionate about Festool like me. So, I left the role of FOG administrator and became a member again. Later that year, Festool USA hired my successor, Tyler Clark, who is now the forum administrator. Peter and Seth continue to serve as their forum's member-moderators. I'd like to congratulate Peter for recently eclipsing an outstanding milestone with over 10,000 posts
on the forum. The dedication from Peter and Seth has been remarkable and I was very grateful to work along with them to help create a great forum atmosphere. Please take the opportunity to privately or publicly praise them for their work here, which is volunteered.
So, there's the story of the history of the FOG. I hope I remembered everything accurately and got the timeline straight. Maybe others will fill in some of the gaps with their own stories and perspective.
But, as for non-US representation on the FOG it simply comes down to asking your friend, colleagues and dealers to join and participate. They can't join if they don't know about it.
I look forward to having more non-US
dealers here soon, ha!