NMBA president seeks to grow the ranks

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bryant0306The National Marine Bankers Association has a new president for the first time in three years.

New president Mike Bryant, who has been in boat lending since 1978 and is the co-founder of Trident Funding, has plans to grow the group. Membership has taken a hit post-recession, when the industry lost several lenders and several banks consolidated, Bryant told Trade Only Today.

Karen Trostle, who is president of Sterling Acceptance Corp. and has headed the organization for three years, held the post during a challenging time, Bryant said.

“I can’t think of a time when it’s been rougher [for an NMBA president],” Bryant told Trade Only. “We’ve seen membership dwindle like a slow bleed, to no fault of her own. Bank consolidation has been the biggest factor. We’ve seen some get out of the marine business altogether and they didn’t renew their membership once they got out. There are some service providers like ourselves who have gotten out.”

Bryant said that because banks have exited marine lending the industry has seen growth in service companies that help match lenders to loans and those companies might be a good place to look for new NMBA members.

“We do feel like we need to expand the association from what it’s typically been in the past, from banks and service companies like ourselves who do lending directly,” Bryant said. “We haven’t gone after companies like the Priority Ones, or that model of service company, and we think we could provide them with a lot of good information, especially when they’re expanding and hiring. NMBA could be a great resource to them.

“We think there are a lot companies like that doing business with dealers,” Bryant said. “At the same time, as some banks come back into the fold, they may want to introduce dealers to banks to expand their programs, too. We feel that a lot of these smaller companies do business with more regional lenders of different varieties. That also gives us the ability to talk to them and see if we can bring them into the organization as well.”

Bryant also would like the group to play an increasing role on Capitol Hill.

“We have, for many years, had a committee that follows all the government regulations that have been passing,” Bryant said. “We’ve been working very closely with the National Marine Manufacturers Association, as well, when it comes to working with Congress in understanding how important the boating industry is. That’s why the American Boating Congress is so important.”

— Reagan Haynes

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