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MDCE 2012: Builders sign dealers while at conference

Several boatbuilders attending the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., this week said they were successful finding and signing new dealers to fill gaps in distribution.

John Dorton of Bryant Boats told Soundings Trade Only that by day’s end Tuesday it had seven new prospects.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” Ron Bibee, customer service manager for Bryant Boats, told Trade Only.

Brand manager Ben Dorton thinks that’s because dealers are reacting to the new market with new product.

“This is unlike anything that’s out there,” Dorton said.

One of the dealers signed Tuesday is in Syracuse, N.Y., and the other is in Tampa, Fla. — Florida had been an area where the company was looking to expand, Dorton said.

Premier Marine was also at the show actively looking for dealers to represent new territories, said sales manager Jim Antolik.

He expected to sign three prospects he’d been in talks with prior to the show before the dealer conference wrapped up today and had another two dealers approach him “out of the blue.”

Pontoons were a hot topic on the showroom floor.

Jim Duncan, of Duncan’s Boats, which is on the coast in Charleston, S.C., said he wanted to shift with the market trends, but wasn’t sure how.

A prior attempt to sell pontoons didn’t work out, but he thought he’d chosen the wrong product for his clientele with an entry-level model that he quickly shed.

“I’ve got to find deckboats I want to carry or try to make pontoons work,” Duncan said.

Ron Sincissen of Apex Marine said he is always prospecting.

“The show is a good opportunity to talk to dealers,” Sincissen said. “Our production is filled, so we expanded our facility and I’m looking for [distribution] expansion geographically.”

This was the pontoon builder’s third year attending the dealer conference, and each year the show produced by Boating Industry magazine and the Marine Retailers Association of America has gotten better.

When asked whether he’d signed any yet, Sincissen said, “I’ve had some commitments, but until you get their financials and commitments they don’t mean much.”

 — Reagan Haynes

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