Steady crowds boost New York Boat Show

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A new year brought renewed optimism among dealers at the Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show, the first show of 2012.

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After a walk on the floor of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan shortly before the show opened its doors on Friday, NMMA president Thom Dammrich said the mood among vendors was clearly upbeat.

“I’d say there’s probably more optimism for 2012 than in the past four or five years,” Dammrich told Trade Only Today.

Crowds were steady and building from opening day Wednesday through the five-day show. A National Football League playoff game at 1 p.m. that involved the hometown Giants somewhat diminished attendance on the final day.

Dammrich said he could sense optimism among both the vendors and attendees he spoke with.

“Some people have been coming out to the show for several years, just looking,” Dammrich said before noting recent positive economic news on manufacturing and jobs. “People are ready for some good news, they’re now getting some good news and I think people are ready to break out and do what they’ve been holding back on for years.”

Dave Dzurilla, general manager for MarineMax in New York’s Westchester County and Connecticut’s Fairfield County, said his crew was seeing “good, qualified prospects. We’re not seeing the daydreamer.”

Dzurilla today reported 68 boats sold among the Sea Ray, Boston Whaler and Meridian displays, compared with 42 at the 2011 show.

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“We had a decent fall, but after this show our entire team feels confident we’re finally seeing a real uptick,” he said.

Steve DeFeo, general manager of DeFeo’s Marina, a Bennington, Larson and Regal dealer on New York’s Greenwood Lake, said he has displayed at every New York show since 1981. Although pontoon boat sales have held up better than other models during the recession, he said he comes into 2012 feeling that “we’re slowly moving up the hill.”

Nate Anderson, Northeast regional sales manager for Scout Boats, said one change he’s sensing is that “people are sitting down and talking real numbers, which is a night-and-day difference from ’09, when all anybody wanted to talk about was how bad the recession was.”

Mark Yarussi, a regional sales manager for Bayliner who oversees 80 dealers from Michigan to Maine to Washington, D.C., summed up his take on the market this way:

“Compared to this time last year we’re picking up steam, and the enthusiasm is up and we feel good about 2012.”

— Rich Armstrong

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