ORLANDO, Fla. — By the time the Orange County Convention Center hall opens at noon today to begin the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., about 150 conferees already will have participated in a series of educational workshops — a new addition to the annual event.
“I think the workshops will be one of the most talked about elements to the conference,” said Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, which co-produces the show with Boating Industry magazine.
The seven of them, each 90 minutes to three hours, address a specific topic such as developing an action plan for growth, boosting show sales, maximizing profits through service and several mobile and online topics.
Highlights on the opening day agenda include the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas session at 4 p.m., which will feature discussion under the title “With Change (Sometimes) Comes Opportunity.”
Click play to watch Chris Landry introduce the show from Orlando.
Keynote speaker Jeffrey Gitomer, a best-selling author and a sales and leadership authority, takes center stage at 5 p.m. with his presentation, “Amp Up Your Advantage.”
Networking receptions will close out the day’s action today and Tuesday — more than 11 hours of dedicated networking time.
More than 600 dealers are expected to attend this year’s conference, a considerably higher rate of participation than the previous high of 512 last year. More than 30 percent of the dealers who have registered have never attended the MDCE, Gruhn said.
About 100 exhibitors will display products and services across more than 100,000 square feet of exhibitor space. Several are planning to introduce new products at the expo.
The Industry Leaders Panel on Wednesday is slated to include Rick Correll, president of Tige Boats; Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas; Jim Lane, president of Chaparral and Robalo; Bill McGill, president and CEO of MarineMax; and Mark Schwabero, president of Mercury Marine.
MDCE will again culminate with the announcement of the Top 100 Dealers, followed by a dinner and celebration.
Trade Only Today is at the conference and will provide daily reports from Orlando.
— Rich Armstrong