Air of optimism after Fort Lauderdale show

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110409_lauderdaleThe second Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show held amid the economic downturn wrapped up Monday with the expected mix of optimism and realistic expectations expressed by exhibitors.

Celebrating its golden anniversary this year, the show, which typically draws about 100,000 attendees, saw attendance drop 4 percent last year, and organizers budgeted for an 8 percent drop this year. But that appears to have been too skeptical.

“I was thrilled with the way the show turned out,” said Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media, which owns show producer Show Management, in an e-mail to Soundings Trade Only. “The number and quality of both exhibitors and attendees far exceeded our plans.”

Final attendance figures were unavailable this morning, but Zimbalist was expecting “flat to up 1 percent” for this year’s attendance.

“Attendance was up 10-plus percent through Friday,” Zimbalist said. “We had a small dip in ‘family’ attendance on Saturday and Sunday, with Monday trending up slightly. I’ve heard from several exhibitors that sales were well up compared to last year, but still a ways to go to get back to 2007 levels.”

Frank Herhold, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which owns the show, summed up the event this way:

“Sales were made, the weather held, crowds were strong – everything fell into place. Even in these times I call the ‘new normal,’ the show remains a bellwether, and I think this year it’s a positive bellwether for the industry,” Herhold said. “This industry is very resilient, an optimistic industry, and we tend to look more to the future than the past.”

Though overall foot traffic was down from typical levels, many of those who attended – despite the hot and humid weather – were serious about purchasing.

“The quality of attendees was excellent,” Clay Gaillard, public relations manager for Cummins MerCruiser Diesel, told Soundings Trade Only. CMD attended in support of its distributors, namely local distributor Cummins Power South.

“We’ve had some very encouraging reports regarding consumers seeking opportunities to repower with our Zeus or Axius drives, and a number of OEMs who showed a lot of interest in integrating pods into their product,” Gaillard said.

In the scaled-back Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, several smaller boatbuilders said they fared well.

“We had a surprisingly strong show, with six boats from 17 to 33 feet sold so far,” said Peter Truslow, president of EdgeWater Powerboats. All were cash deals – two 17-footers, an 18-, a 26-, a 31- and a 33-footer, according to Truslow.

“We also have some other orders coming in from our foreign dealers and expect to close more deals this week,” he added.

The Sea Fox & Mariah Boat Company reported a nearly 54 percent increase in sales from the 2008 show.

“It looks like we got 20 solid sales with a possibility of a few more,” said Jeff DeBar, senior vice president of sales and marketing. Most are cash buyers and not in need of financing.

“This is a 180-degree change from year’s past,” he said. “If the 20 sales stick, this would be better than the 13 compared to last year.”

Out on the Bahia Mar docks, Pompano Beach Marine Center, which displayed several Grady-White models, including the new 366 Canyon, reported modest sales success.

“We sold some smaller boats this year compared to last year,” said salesman Michael Zantop, noting cash sales of an 18- and a 20-footer. He said another customer wants to move up from a 33-foot Grady-White to the new 36-footer, but the sale is pending the dealer finding a buyer for the trade-in boat.

Zantop said a half-dozen 366 Canyon sea trials have been set up for the coming weeks, and the dealership came away from the show with “several good leads.”

Robert McDougal, president of Allied Marine, which was purchased by Ferretti last year, issued this statement assessing the show:

“After considerable preparation of our team, we were cautiously optimistic going into the show. Today, we can say that we are pleased with the number of written contracts for both new and brokered boats coming from the show. We are on track for achieving our goals.”

— Rich Armstrong

r.armstrong@soundingpub.com

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Comments

8 comments on “Air of optimism after Fort Lauderdale show

  1. Arch

    Sea Fox and Mariah reported 54% increase?  Really? 
    I”m biting my lip so as not to get this post blackballed.  All I’ll say to that is this…..CONSIDER THE SOURCE.
    At least the others sounded realisitic.
     

  2. Fishdaddy

    It would be certainly interesting to know what the ratio was with the credit deals  that SeaFox/Mariah are counting to be “IN THE BANK”….I would not count those chickens quite yet my little friends. 54% so is that 3 boats ?? Love boat show sales figures from most dealers and reps they are as acurate as promoters attendence figures….HUMMMMM

  3. Exhibit Guy

    I always love the promoters attendence figures!!! Thursday & Friday had modest attendence (I won’t call it a crowd) Saturday, Sunday, & Monday the aisles in everything but the 100 tent (where the trinkets are sold) were empty. We could have set pins and bowled in the aisles any time of day without hitting anyone. Even so, sales were OK but for us it was a two day show!!

  4. boatman11

    Spoke to a prominent Yacht Broker who was at the show, and has been for years. He said  attendance at the docks was WAY off….he also said ( as did Exhibiter Guy) that you could bowl down the isles. He said he got a couple of leads to work….but all in all, not quite as successful as what the promoters are claiming.
    Several of those that actually purchased boats with cash were from out of the country. Many others will depend on financing that will not happen.
    Seems the Standard Boat Show talking points are: Attendance down slightly, but the Quality of attendees is better.
     

  5. Boat Guy

    We had an awesome show. A huge improvement in the sale of our products at the show from the past four years. It seemed attendence was up compared to last year. Even our Monday booth traffic was steady and strong, mind you we are in the 100 tent. From our vantage point, it seemed that retail buyers were in a spending mood. I’m sure this mood is more directed at aftermarket spending as opposed to new boat sales. However, some of my boat builder friend were opitmistic during the show.

  6. BBYacht

    I am a wholesaler who buys unwanted trades.  I worked the Show for three days before I found a dealer that had a boat to offer me?  What does that tell you?

  7. Yacht Girl

    Final attendance figures are expected to be “flat to up 1 percent”??  This seems a bit unreasonable, considering all you could hear were crickets the last four/five hours of the last three days.  I think Exhibit Guy hit the nail on the head….it was pretty much a two day show.  In fact, I’m still pondering why Ft. Lauderdale and Miami remains five-day shows.  I dont believe the attendance would be hindered one bit by eliminating Monday, and making a more efficient four-day show.

  8. biminibrad

    THE REAL DEAL. AS THE PROMOTER OF THE SUMMER SHOW IN MIAMI AND PRODUCING 5 HOME SHOWS IN FLA, HERE IS THE REAL DEAL. MOST DEALERS SOLD BETWEEN 2-12 BOATS, ABOUT 1/2 WERE CASH DEALS AND MOST THAT WERE FINANCING WERE QUALIFIED. ALL IN THE DEALERS ATTITUDE WAS IT WAS OK AND WORTH DOING IF THEY GOT COOP. A FEW GUYS BLANKED AND SOME DID WELL. THERE ARE BUYERS OUT THERE BUT WITH ANYTHING TODAY IT MUST BE A DEAL. ONE DEALER WHO HAD A DOZEN SALES HAD AGRESSIVE SUPPORT FROM THE FACTORY. THE GUY WHO WAS LEFT TRYING TO SELL STOCK INVENTORY AND GOT NO HELP BLANKED. THAT IS TODAYS WORLD. AS FOR ATTENDANCE, 90% OF PROMOTERS LIE. SHOWS IN GENERAL OVER THE LAST YEAR ARE DOWN 30- 50%. EXHIBIT SPACE FROM MY GUESTIMATE WAS OFF 30-40% AND ASOMETHING SIMILIAR FROM 07. THE REALITY IS IT SEEMS, FEELS AND ACTS LIKE CONFIDENCE IS UP AND PEOPLE WILL PULL THE TRIGGER IF IT IS A DEAL, WHERE AS IT COULD ALMOST BE FREE THE FIRST QUARTER OF THIS YEAR AND PEOPLE WOULD NOT BUY. JUST MY 2 CENTS

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