Enthusiasm High At New York Boat Show - Trade Only Today

Enthusiasm High At New York Boat Show

A new career day program capitalizes on excitement about boats and celebrities.
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Show attendees were enthusiastic about the new personal watercraft and boats on display.

Show attendees were enthusiastic about the new personal watercraft and boats on display.

The 113th Progressive New York International Boat Showwas strong, despite attendance being off slightly from last year, several of the 300 exhibitors said.

The show, which ran Jan. 24-28 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan, had 42,419 attendees, down 2 percent from last year, but up 4 percent from its three-year average.

“For many, boat shows this year feel like the early 2000s again,” says Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which owns and produces the event. “We are getting amazing reports from shows in New York, Baltimore, Louisville and Schaumburg” Illinois, home of the Progressive Chicago Travel, Fishing and Outdoors Show.

Moving the New York show’s dates from early January to later in the month was “a game changer,” says show manager Jon Pritko.

Hands-on simulators were a hit with show visitors.

Hands-on simulators were a hit with show visitors.

“The Jeanneau booth is mobbed,” said Jeanneau and Prestige America president Nick Harvey during the show. “The outboards there, which are proudly made in America now, were a big hit. I went to say ‘hi’ to my dealer, and I could not get out of the booth.”

“Yesterday was very strong, and today has been good, too,” said Aaron Krenzer, Northeast regional sales manager for Chaparral Boats, on the second day of the show. “People are coming here ready to buy.”

New features this year included a Touch-a-Boat tour with a New York City fireboat and more than 15 additional boats. Some 1,350 kids participated in the program, which was designed to make the show more interactive.

“Kids are always looking at screens, and then they go to touch a boat, and we’re going to tell them not to,” says Pritko, adding that with Touch-a-Boat, kids could be as curious as they wanted to be.

Industry veteran Larry Russo talks careers with students.

Industry veteran Larry Russo talks careers with students.

Career Day

The show also hosted its first Career Day, which drew 117 students from schools including New York Harbor School, a public high school on Governor’s Island that is focused on maritime education, State University New York Maritime and Kingsborough.

The young people seemed engaged by presentations by Regulator president Joan Maxwell, Boston Whaler engineering manager Spencer Traynom, Capt. Donovan Withers from the Office of Maritime Technology at Kingsborough Community College and MarineMax Russo’s Larry Russo.

“Even if you’re not just interested in the nuts and bolts, there are so many opportunities in this industry,” Russo told about 50 students at the Javits Center. “You have to figure out how to sell them, service them, put on events like this.”

Students asked about everything from personal interests to the business and financial side of things. When one student asked how much it costs to build a boat, Traynom answered that the expenses — and possible jobs — included materials, labor, research, development, molds and marketing.

Teenagers were intrigued by Yamaha’s Helm Master display.

Teenagers were intrigued by Yamaha’s Helm Master display.

“Even if you’re not just interested in the nuts and bolts, there are so many opportunities in this industry,” Russo told a group of about 50 students Thursday morning at the Javits Center in New York. “You have to figure out how to sell them, service them, put on events like this.”

Eric Soto, who studies marine system technology at the New York Harbor School and plans to take the American Boat and Yacht Council exam this spring, asked how he might integrate his love of politics into a marine-industry job.

Dammrich spent 15 minutes answering him in detail, describing the NMMA’s work with agencies ranging from the U.S. Coast Guard to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We have a full team in Washington, D.C., full time,” Dammrich said. “We deal with fishing regulations, access issues, with the U.S. Coast Guard, with [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce — it’s amazing how much political involvement there is. We certify these boats. We need people on Capitol Hill who understand these standards and interface with regulators and the EPA and all those other entities.”

The Progressive New England Boat Show had a similar event planned for Feb. 12.

“This was a great investment,” especially as the industry faces a workforce shortage, said Boston Whaler East Coast Manager Doug Nettles.

Avid fisherman and N.Y. Mets All-Star pitcher Jacob deGrom signs a photo for a fan.

Avid fisherman and N.Y. Mets All-Star pitcher Jacob deGrom signs a photo for a fan.

Celebrity guest

New York Mets All-Star pitcher Jacob deGrom was at the show to talk about his passion for fishing. The 29-year-old, who has a 21-foot Back Country powered by a 250 Mercury Pro XS, visited the Mercury Marine booth, signed autographs, met with fans and traded fish pictures with other anglers.

One photo of deGrom, with a 5-pound largemouth bass and his toddler son in a front-body carrier, made fans laugh.

“He’s such a passionate boater and so passionate about fishing,” said Mercury Marine spokesman Lee Gordon. “He reached out to us over the summer. He grew up fishing in Florida with his dad and always ran Mercury engines so it’s a brand that has always been near and dear to him.”He fishes four times a week during the off-season and is so curious about the industry, so it was a good chance for him to go to the show and meet our team and some of our customers. He spent time with Whaler, Formula, Buster’s Marine — he definitely made the rounds and he loved the conversation as much as they did.” n

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue.

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