Dealer conference events start this weekend


Momentum continues to build for the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, which opens with an informal networking reception on Sunday at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

“I’m incredibly excited for it,” said Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, which co-produces the show with Boating Industry magazine. “We’ve grown dealer attendance every year since 2007 and we’re looking to be up about 15 percent this year. We expect more than 600 dealers this year, breaking the 600 mark for the first time and topping last year’s high of 512.”

About 30 to 35 percent of dealers registered for the MDCE have never attended, Gruhn said, offering an opportunity for the approximately 100 exhibitors to meet potential new clients.

Gruhn said the three pillars of the MDCE’s appeal are the education programs offered (and greatly expanded this year), networking (dedicated events to be held every night) and exhibitors displaying goods.

“We doubled our budget for speakers and education this year,” he said.

Toward education, new this year will be a series of workshops — seven of them, each 90 minutes to three hours — to be held Monday morning before the event officially opens.

“For years, dealers have complained that what was offered didn’t dig deep enough, so these workshops were created to address that,” Gruhn said.

As of Wednesday, 147 dealers had registered for one or more workshops, and Gruhn predicts they will be a highlight of the event and only grow in the years to come.

Another highlight, he said, will be Monday evening’s keynote speaker Jeffrey Gitomer, an author, professional speaker and business trainer who lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development.

“He’s just a great mind and presenter when it comes to leadership and sales. This will be a huge learning opportunity for attendees,” Gruhn said.

The MDCE will be held from Sunday through Wednesday at the Orange County Convention Center and Rosen Plaza Hotel. Registration is available at the gate.

Rich Armstrong