Conference speaker says dealer-manufacturer relationship has to improve

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ORLANDO, Fla. - The only way to make real changes in the marine industry is for dealers and manufacturers to work together.

That was the message Noel Osborne, from Osborne and Associates, had for attendees of the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, which runs through today.

"I suggest that this conference needs to call for an industry summit to address our future," said Osborne, who was a speaker for Tuesday's seminar program. "I want to see a specific result from this conference."

There are many actions dealers can take to survive the current economic downturn: find a way to make used product part of their business, increase productivity and improve service efficiencies, to name a few.

Dealers and manufacturers need new business models. Sales will likely be down for the foreseeable future, consumer demographics have changed, inventory stock levels need to change and marketing needs to be cost-effective, he noted.

Dealers can make all the changes in the world, Osborne said, but without support from their manufacturing partners, not much will change. It needs to be a joint effort.

"The time has come for us to collectively address these issues. We can't stay isolated from each other anymore," he said. Quoting Patrick Henry, he noted, "United we stand, divided we fall ... that's us, too."

— Beth Rosenberg

b.rosenberg@tradeonlytoday.com

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