MRAA president announces retirement

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Marine Retailers Association of America president Phil Keeter will retire from the position at year’s end.

Keeter has been president of the association since 1988. He was one of the 12 founding dealer members of the group in 1972.

“It has been my privilege and honor to have represented the marine dealers throughout North America for the past 20-plus years,” Keeter said. “Having been a dealer for 30 years before becoming MRAA’s president gave me a real understanding of what a dealer faces every day. They are brave and fearless small businessmen with their entire fortunes on the line, so my task of representing them has been daunting, but the friendships and relations I have formed with them are priceless treasures.”

Keeter, who will be 75 at the end of this year, said he had been thinking about moving on for a while, although he may do some consulting in the industry after he leaves the MRAA. He said he wanted to see the association’s young leaders group established before he left and also see the industry on an “upsurge.”

The association soon will release information on its search for a new president. Keeter said he hopes someone will be on board by the third quarter of the year.

“MRAA has made a real difference on the landscape of the recreational boating industry and today plays the single biggest role in making our industry successful in the future. MRAA has forged relationships with all segments of the industry that I have had the good fortune of being a part of. I know these will be continued by my successor,” he said.

“In this coming year I will work to secure even stronger bonds for MRAA’s future. My successor must possess far greater skills than I have in this world of emerging technology because that very technology will help to propel MRAA to even greater success,” he added.

Keeter, a past board member of the association, has represented it with other industry groups. He received a presidential appointment to serve on the Boating Safety Advisory Council and served for six years.

He is a recipient of the Mel Barr Award, given by the National Marine Representatives Association, and a recipient of the Phil Keeter Environmental Education Award, given by the Marine Environmental Education Foundation. He served on the board of the foundation for several years and received recognition from the National Clean Boating Campaign.

Keeter is vice president of the Grow Boating program and is on the board of Marine Five Star Dealer Certification.

His career in the recreational boating industry began with the establishment in 1958 of Romer Marine in Tulsa, Okla., during his senior year in college. In 1986, he sold that dealership after 28 years and went on to become regional sales manager for Glastron Boat Co. He was there for two years before becoming the president of MRAA.

Keeter remains active with the University of Tulsa, the Will Rogers Rotary Club and the Boston Avenue Methodist Church. He is also active with the Tulsa Boat Sport & Travel Show and the two Green Country RV Shows.

Keeter and his wife, Marilyn, have been married for 52 years and have three children and five grandchildren.


6 comments on “MRAA president announces retirement

  1. Rod Malone

    Phil has been a great spokesperson for all marine dealers.  His passion for and  leadership of our industry will be missed and difficult to replace.

  2. Eddie Allbright

    Certainly one who has dedicated his life to this up and down industry.  His shoes will be hard to fill.

  3. George

    About time.  Phil always played his favorites and chummed up to the big money sources.  He could care less about minor league marine associations.

  4. Neil Ross

    Phil Keeter has been one of this nation’s icons representing boating business interest for decades. Everyone who has worked with Phil appreciates his honest dedication to helping the industry grow and go forward. Under his MRRA leadership, the boat dealers built a strong, effective and respected voice alongside the manufacturers.
    I have been privileged to have had many opportunities to work with Phil both on his and my programs, particularly developing the clean marina and clean boating campaigns. Phil shares the credit for helping to change the environmental attitudes and face of this industry.
    We all owe Phil sincere respect, admiration and above all our thanks.
    Job well done, Phil. What will your next challenges be after leaving MRAA? My bet is that you will even be busier than now. Good luck.

  5. Ted Sampanes

    Phil has always been working for the betterment of the entire marine industry. He has been the vioce of reason. He really understands the needs of the industry.

  6. Charles Ivey

    Congratulations, Phil, on your many years of service to the marine industry. Having spent most of my life in the industry as a vendor to the boat manufacturers until my retirement recently, I can only say it has been an exiting and rewarding career as I am sure you can attest. I sincerely appreciate our friendship over the many years.
    I want to wish you every success in your new position as you enter the ranks of the retired.

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