For the Record: Bill before U.S. House would bar sales of E15

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U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., has introduced a bill that would block the use of gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol until its harmful effects are further investigated.

H.R. 875, introduced in late February, would repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s waiver approving the sale of E15 until the agency seeks an independent scientific analysis from the National Academy of Sciences to explore the harmful effects of the blend, according to Sensenbrenner’s office.

It’s one of a number of bills introduced in Congress seeking either the overturn of the waiver allowing E15 or asking for more studies on the effects of the fuel blend or to revisit the Renewable Fuel Standard, an EPA mandate requiring increasing use of biofuels such as ethanol that passed in 2005 and was strengthened in 2007.

Earlier this month, Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and David Vitter, R-La., introduced a bill in the Senate that would overturn the EPA waivers that allowed gasoline with 15 percent ethanol to be introduced into the fuel supply and prohibit such future waivers.

Wicker’s office is already “getting a lot of pushback from the ethanol folks,” Jim Currie, legislative director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, told Soundings Trade Only.

“We gave them a lot of material I’ve accumulated on the effects of E15, from groundwater depletion to conservation easements to food costs and engine damage,” Currie said. “Its damages go way beyond what we as boat folks worry about. We were trying to help them on that, and I think we succeeded there.”

Currie and John McKnight, director of environmental safety and compliance for the NMMA, are also working with Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., as his office drafts a bill that would re-examine the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“They are in the process of drafting a bill on ethanol that will probably go further than some of the others and get in and look at the Renewable Fuel Standard itself to see if we can do something about it,” Currie said. “The amount of ethanol the law requires us to be blending into our gasoline stream is absurd. It would increase the amount by about 1.2 billion gallons and would also require about 21 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels, and we’re not even producing that.”

Private equity group takes over Navigator

Navigator Yachts, builder of Navigator Yachts and Californian Yachts, has been sold to a private equity investment group and is now operating under the name Navigator Yachts and Products Inc.

Alberto Cogliati, who has worked with the company for a dozen years and is now filling the role of general manager, confirmed to Soundings Trade Only that the company was sold at the end of 2012 and got back up and running under new ownership early this year after completing the permitting and sale process.

“A lot of people are calling and inquiring about it,” Cogliati said. “We haven’t announced it officially yet, but yes, the company was sold.”

The new owners opted not to release their identity to the public immediately, Cogliati told Trade Only in late February.

The company plans to maintain its focus on building and selling in the United States while also exploring international opportunities, Cogliati said. It also will make some changes to its model lineup and likely will introduce a new model. The goal will be to implement building innovations and explore options in alternative materials to keep costs down and prices lower while maintaining the quality of the products.

Jule Marshall, who founded Californian Yachts in 1972 and Navigator Yachts in 1988, is no longer involved in the company, Cogliati said.

“The good news is that we’re financially stronger, and we’re looking to grow our dealer network and expand our market outside of the United States,” he said. “We’re still maintaining all of our dealers in the United States and even trying to expand in the U.S. And I’m looking at some South American markets and probably some Asian markets.”

MarineMax acquires dealership in Florida

MarineMax acquired the Parker Boat Co.’s retail boat sales and service operations in Orlando and Daytona, Fla., giving the nation’s largest marine retailer exclusive Sea Ray distribution for the entire state of Florida.

With the acquisition, MarineMax also will have additional distribution territory for Boston Whaler, Grady-White and Sea Hunt boats, along with other brands. As part of the transaction, MarineMax will lease the Orlando- and Daytona-based stores, increasing its store count to 55, the company announced March 5.

MarineMax expects to “achieve operational benefits over time by combining the management, marketing and infrastructure of its other stores in the region” because the newly acquired markets are contiguous with MarineMax’s existing Florida operations, the company announced in a statement.

The newly acquired stores, which have operated for more than 85 years, will focus on selling their existing boat brands “as well as leveraging MarineMax’s additional product offerings.”

“The Parker Boat Co. name is synonymous with customer service and boating throughout the central Florida area,” MarineMax CEO William H. McGill said in a statement.

“We look forward to building on their customer-centric traditions, which are similar to MarineMax’s, while broadening their product offerings even further. Parker Boat Co.’s market area is a corridor to both the east and west coasts of Florida and is also one of the fastest-growing parts of the state. We believe this business combination, with the experienced Parker team and loyal customer following, combined with the integration of our contiguous stores, will further strengthen our ability to serve this strong boating market.”

Co-chairmen named for Boating Caucus

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) joined the U.S. recreational boating industry’s Congressional Boating Caucus in February as co-chairmen.

The senator and congressman join Republican counterparts Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in this role, the National Marine Manufacturers Association announced. Donnelly had been the Democratic co-chairman in the House of Representatives.

The caucus is an informal, bipartisan group of senators and representatives that the NMMA formed in 1989 to advocate the interests of the recreational boating industry.

“We are pleased to welcome Sen. Donnelly and Rep. McIntyre as new co-chairs of the Congressional Boating Caucus,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “Both members of Congress continue to show a commitment to the recreational boating industry and we look forward to the guidance and leadership they will provide.”

All pavilion space sold for Rio show

The USA Pavilion at the Rio de Janeiro Boat Show, part of the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s new export development program, is sold out.

This is the first time the United States will have a group presence at the show, and the country pavilion is the only one of its size, with 16 American companies confirmed to exhibit. Brazil is currently the country’s fifth-largest export market. In spite of high import duties and challenging conditions, U.S. exports are on the rise.

Companies confirmed in the USA Pavilion at the Rio show, which will run from April 25 to May 1, include boat and yacht builders, marine equipment manufacturers, distributors of boating products and supplies, boat trailers and lifts, boat certification support and fishing equipment — all NMMA members.

The NMMA’s export development program, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, is targeting a number of international boat shows to expand international presence for its members.

ABBRA begins wage survey

Data collection for the 2013 American Boat Builders & Repairers Association’s Compensation and Benefits Survey for Marine Service Employees, formerly known as the Annual Wage Rate Survey, is under way.

ABBRA said the survey is a useful and popular tool for employers in the boatyards and marine service and repair sectors to gauge and compare rates, salaries and benefits in the current market. It also helps employees and independent contractors to better evaluate whether compensation for their work is fair and competitive.

“In today’s dynamic and challenging economy, ABBRA’s Compensation and Benefits Survey aims to expand on its historical role as a comparison of hourly rates and serve as an even more vital resource, providing the marine industry with fundamental and comprehensive information that allows employers to make key decisions regarding salaries and benefits across the industry,” ABBRA executive director Gordon Connell said in a statement.

The survey will be distributed to ABBRA members nationally. Other local marine trade associations are being asked to share the survey with their members. The survey will be segmented by state and region, and by revenue and number of employees, and it seeks information on a range of job types, based on the types of positions ABBRA members have identified as most common in today’s boatyards.

NMBA president seeks expansion

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

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 said.

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.”

MarineTech Products buys anchor maker

Boating accessory manufacturer MarineTech Products announced the purchase of all assets of King Pin Shallow Water Anchors, maker of the full line of shallow-water anchoring systems.

“We felt this was a perfect fit,” MarineTech Products president Larry Grundtner said in a statement. “The addition of another category of premium-quality products to our Panther line aimed at shallow-water anglers, duck hunters and pleasure boaters is a huge value add for our customer base. We’re always looking for new ideas to enhance the boating experience.”

King Pin anchors will continue to be made in Erie, Pa., but sales and marketing will move to MarineTech’s new headquarters in Vadnais Heights, Minn.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue.

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