For the Record: NMMA West formed as trade groups merge

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association outlined its merger with the Southern California Marine Association, including taking over the production of SCMA boat shows.

With the integration, which received 94 percent approval from SCMA voters, the California group and its members will be part of the NMMA under the newly formed NMMA West, according to a statement.

The NMMA will take on all of the SCMA’s assets, maintain SCMA staff in its existing Southern California office and produce the San Diego Yacht & Boat Show, the Long Beach Yacht & Boat Show and the Los Angeles Boat Show, beginning with the July 26-29 San Diego show.

“Our industry has undergone dramatic changes over the course of the past decade, and NMMA believes in staying ahead of these changes to ensure we’re able to continue doing what’s right for recreational boating,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “By bringing SCMA into NMMA we’re confident we’ll be able to improve how we position the industry for growth — in Southern California and throughout the U.S.”

SCMA members who were not already NMMA members will receive three years of paid NMMA membership as part of the integration. To guide the specific needs of its new members in Southern California, a dedicated board of directors will be formed and will report to the NMMA board.

The SCMA’s integration with the NMMA comes on the heels of its decision to open associate NMMA membership to boat dealers, retailers and distributors as it adapts to an industry that increasingly requires all segments to work together to be successful.

“We’ve been looking for ways to improve offerings for members of SCMA and reignite the recreational boating industry in Southern California. The integration with NMMA was a natural move to help achieve these goals,” NMMA West executive director Dave Geoffroy said in a statement.

Ethanol industry prevails on fuel issue

Contrary to numerous studies showing problems in the use of fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan submitted by the ethanol industry to address residual fuel that can be left in gas pumps that offer E15 and other fuels, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

That step “knocks down the lone significant regulatory hurdle standing in the way of getting E15 into the marketplace,” trade groups Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association said.

Three years ago the ethanol industry filed a waiver with the EPA to expand the amount of ethanol allowed in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent, according to Environmental and Energy Publishing. The EPA since has approved two partial waivers that allow the fuel to be sold for use in model year 2001 and newer cars and has taken steps to bring the fuel closer to the marketplace.

The NMMA, along with the oil industry, food organizations and other stakeholders, has opposed the introduction of E15. The recent action specifically addresses the scenario of a gas station having a single pump to provide E15 and other fuels, such as E10, and the concern that residual E15 could mean customers who want E10 may get gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol.

The Renewable Fuels Association said the EPA has notified it that the industry’s guidance for retailers on selling E15 adequately addresses those concerns.

50_recordBoatUS marks towing milestone

BoatUS Towing Services recently reached a milestone with more than 300 TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist locations across the country, making it the largest boat-towing operation in the world.

With half a million members, the on-the-water assistance service for recreational boaters has three times more locations than its closest competitor, according to the release. To date, BoatUS reports that 25 states are up more than 10 percent in towing dispatch volume from last year.

Ten of the program’s 14 new locations this year are on lakes and rivers, reflecting the association’s growth in services for freshwater boaters.

S2 Yachts reorganizes Tiara, Pursuit management

S2 Yachts chairman and founder Leon Slikkers announced organizational changes for the builder’s Tiara and Pursuit brands.

Part of that restructuring includes Slikkers “taking a step back in the day-to-day operations of the two divisions,” according to a statement in early July from S2 Yachts.

“He will continue to focus on his role as adviser/consultant for S2 Yachts, which is now being run by three generations of Slikkers,” according to the statement.

Slikkers also said Pursuit Boats president Tom Slikkers will assume the position of S2 CEO and president. Robert Slikkers will continue to oversee Tiara’s manufacturing process, in addition to focusing on Energetz Composites. Energetz builds composite components for the alternative energy market.

There was no mention of former S2 CEO David Slikkers and a spokesman told Soundings Trade Only that the company wants to focus on the positive changes moving forward.

As Tiara looks to streamline redundancies within the two boat companies, Tom Slikkers said Pursuit vice president of sales and marketing George Hetzel was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing for S2 Yachts. Hetzel will also coordinate S2’s international sales expansion plans with Pursuit’s Paul Perry and Tiara’s Graham Nisbit.

In his new role, Hetzel hired industry veteran Nick Bischoff to serve as Tiara’s business development manager for the northern region of the United States. Bischoff served as Tiara’s vice president of sales and marketing as recently as 2009. Bischoff also will serve as the company’s special projects manager, with an emphasis on facilitating new development and leading Tiara’s sales training program at Tiara University.

Hetzel assigned the Latin American and Caribbean regions for Pursuit Boats to John Armbruster, who currently handles the southern region for Tiara.

Randy Jernigan was named business development manager for Pursuit’s Northeastern region and Canada. Jernigan brings more than 25 years of marine wholesale and retail experience to the brand. After serving in the Coast Guard, Jernigan worked with such companies as OMC, Bombardier and Hydra-Sports.

In addition to the direct sales responsibilities outlined, Pursuit marketing director David Glenn was promoted to marketing director for S2 Yachts. Glenn will be responsible for shaping both brands as the company moves forward.

Report: Inventory selling more quickly

Inventory is leaving showroom floors twice as fast today as it did a couple of years ago.

That’s according to Bruce Van Wagoner, president of GE Capital’s commercial marine lending group, who gave an address on the state of the marine industry via podcast in June with National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich.

“That’s a very promising indicator,” Marine Retailers Association of America president Matt Gruhn told Soundings Trade Only. “We’ve traditionally been known as a two-turn industry, but I think it’s really a little less than two turns, so for us to be up and over that, it means we’re managing our inventory better.”

Inventory more than a year old is at a historic low of 13 percent, compared with 47 percent at the recession’s peak, Van Wagoner said in the podcast.

The decision to buy a boat can still be impulsive if consumers see what they want, Dammrich points out. That’s why “dealers really need to make sure they have adequate inventory levels,” Van Wagoner says.

“The dealer’s risking losing a sale to a spontaneous buyer if what that person’s looking for is not in stock or if they don’t see a range of choices,” Van Wagoner says. Inventory is one-third less than it was at its peak, he says.

Pursuit Boats releases specs for sport yacht

Pursuit Boats released preliminary specifications for its new Yamaha-powered sport yacht, which the company expects to display in the fall at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

The 36 Sport Yacht is the first offering in this market for Pursuit, which is owned by S2 Yachts, builder of the Tiara brand. Pursuit is known for center console, walkaround and express fishing boats.

“As a company known for delivering luxury models, our experience and design resources compliment this market niche,” S2 Yachts vice president sales and marketing George Hetzel said in a statement.

The Pursuit Sport Yacht measures 41 feet, 2 inches overall because of its stern platform and outboard package, S2 Yachts marketing director David Glenn told Trade Only Today. Pursuit will continue to periodically release information about the yacht until the show, Glenn said.

Carolina Skiff rolls out new line of deckboats

Carolina Skiff released its Fun Chaser line of high-performance fiberglass deckboats.

The innovative hybrids were first seen last year at the Miami International Boat Show. They are available in 19- and 22-foot lengths in the Cruiser and Fish Series. Further line expansions are planned in the near future.

Carolina Skiff CEO Joe Kirkland said that because of the Fun Chaser’s fiberglass construction and stainless steel railings, gates and fixtures, owners will be able to use the boat in fresh water and saltwater.

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue.

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