A tax break on new boats invigorated crowds at the Progressive Norwalk Boat Show, which ran Sept. 20-23 at Norwalk Cove Marina in Norwalk, Conn.
Jon Pritko, vice president of Northeast shows for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said the recent reduction of the Connecticut sales tax from 6.35 to 2.99 percent on boats, trailers and engines motivated attendees to buy.
“We’re definitely up on exhibitor sales,” Pritko told Trade Only Today. “There’s more land space filled. Some took extra space, and we’ve got some new dealers exhibiting.”
Buyers often first hit the Newport International Boat Show, held the previous weekend in Rhode Island, to see the newest models, then come to Norwalk with their narrowed-down lists, Formula executive vice president Grant Porter said.
“We made sales and got some leads at the Newport show, and some are coming back,” Porter said, as he gave a tour of the Formula 400 SSC, powered by quad 300-hp Mercury outboards. The boat is the first to feature Taylor Made’s new windshield, which opens to allow access to the bow seating, Porter said.
A couple testing the new outboard-powered Back Cove 34 said they’d first seen the boat in Newport. As the Norwalk show closed Friday, they were reviewing the list of options with a broker.
The new 61-foot Bertram convertible was shown by appointment only and had clients on board all day on Friday.
The trend toward outboard center consoles showed no sign of slowing at the show, and demand continued to outpace supply.
“It’s the same thing for us; our demand has exceeded our capacity,” said John Ward, CEO of Everglades Boats. “It’s been like that for two years. The challenge with growth to support demand is people and suppliers. But the biggest thing is people — getting people who want to come to work and value all the things a great company like this can provide.”
The closure of Sea Ray’s Palm Coast and Sykes Creek facilities has eased that challenge somewhat, Ward said. Everglades has hired 35 to 40 workers from those plants.
“It’s nice to be able to offer people in an unfortunate situation an opportunity,” Ward said.
Everglades’ new 340 dual console — unveiled at the company’s dealer meeting in August — was generating a lot of interest in Norwalk, Ward said.
“It’s just getting into production,” Ward said. “By the end of the Miami show, my guess is it will be sold out for the year.”