For the Record: Alabama AquaPalooza draws 35,000 to lake

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Sea Ray Boats and Russell Lands On Lake Martin say that more than 4,000 boats and 35,000 people attended Alan Jackson's headline performance at Saturday's AquaPalooza signature event on Lake Martin, Ala.

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The event, held at Kowaliga Bay, set a record for any AquaPalooza signature event. This year's attendance figures represent an increase of more than 50 percent over last year's numbers, making it the largest signature event in the four-year history of AquaPalooza, organizers said.

"It shows that Sea Ray continues to invest in the future of boating. AquaPalooza is about sun and fun, great music and togetherness with family and friends," said Rob Noyes, vice president of marketing for Sea Ray, in a statement.

The weekend event, held July 24-26, featured a concert by Jackson. Boats were packed stem-to-stern for more than a mile, and many fans donned their inner tubes and water noodles to paddle close to the water-pit at the bottom of the stage.

METS exhibitor numbers are close to last year's

Stand sales for November's Marine Equipment Trade Show are virtually on par with last year's show, and in addition to securing 1,000 repeat exhibitors, METS will also welcome nearly 150 new companies, organizers say.

METS is set for Nov. 17-19 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

In the METS halls, newcomers are from Italy, China, the United States, France and Germany, and in the SuperYacht Pavilion new representation is highest from the Netherlands, Italy and the U.S., organizers say.

METS 2009 will boast a fresh layout, which revolves around the new Elicium building where the DAME Presentation and Media Plaza are located.

Kentucky dealership files for Chapter 11

Lake Cumberland Marine, a dealership in Somerset, Ky., filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company, which employs about 30 people, hopes to create a reorganization plan and emerge from Chapter 11 protection within a few months, controller Wesley Evans told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Evans says that during the next three to four months the company hopes to establish a way to broker excess inventory as part of the reorganization. According to court documents, the dealership has between $10 million and $50 million in estimated assets and between $10 million and $50 million in estimated liabilities.

The dealership sells Fountain and Cobalt boats, among others.

Marine industry loses more retail lenders

Provident Bank finalized its merger with M&T Bank, removing one more marine lender from the retail landscape.

"Provident was a fairly significant, national lender," with a portfolio of $350 million to $400 million in retail finance," says Don Parkhurst, who heads up marine lending for SunTrust Bank. "A lot of that volume is falling to us now, or BB&T, but it's one less player at a time that marine finance already has few players."

Also this summer, Connecticut-based Customer One Financial quit retail marine lending, Parkhurst says, as well as Safeway out of Indianapolis. Both were smaller service companies that did direct retail marine lending and made some loans through dealers.

Both were more regional lenders, with Customer One's footprint being the East Coast and Safeway's in the Midwest, Parkhurst says.

In the last two years, the marine industry has seen a dramatically declining number of retail and wholesale lenders, with giants such as GE, Wachovia and KeyBank leaving the retail side and KeyBank and Textron pulling out of wholesale lending.

MRAA disbands Genmar bankruptcy dealer group

Lack of interest among dealers prompted the Marine Retailers Association of America to discontinue its Genmar bankruptcy dealer group.

"I think the dealers are making a mistake," MRAA president Phil Keeter told Soundings Trade Only. "I think they should be represented at the ... table."

Genmar chairman and CEO Irwin Jacobs says he's glad to know he has the support of his dealers.

"I don't have a business without them," he told Soundings Trade Only. "I am committed to doing everything I possibly can to support our dealers."

The MRAA set up the dealer group last month in response to inquiries from its members regarding the case. The association arranged to have legal counsel to represent its members in the most economical and effective way.

"They slammed us when they came out with this," says Jacobs. "I don't know what they could have done for these people other than what we're already doing."

He says Genmar is continuing to pay warranty claims and support dealers as much as it can. However, Keeter says he knows a number of dealers who have not yet been paid for warranty, boat show assistance and other claims.

Nevertheless, the MRAA says one of the key reasons expressed by dealers for not going the legal route was "the staunch and repetitive assurances" by Jacobs that his company would honor all outstanding dealer obligations.

"MRAA hopes, as do the Genmar dealers, that these assurances can be, and will be, honored," the association said in a statement. "MRAA would like nothing better than a revitalized Genmar that has fulfilled its commitments to Genmar dealers."

MRAA says it will remain ready to assist its members and protect their interests in the Genmar bankruptcy case.

In other news, Genmar's creditors have until Nov. 18 to file a proof of claim, according to court documents.

Governmental units have until Nov. 30 to file a proof of claim.

NMEA conference set for September

Guiding your marine electronics business during challenging economic times is one of the themes for the National Marine Electronics Association Convention & Expo, set for Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 at the Sanibel Harbour Resort in Fort Myers, Fla.

"The convention this year will give all of us a platform to rejuvenate, share stories, and figure out how we can work together to adapt to a changing market," said David Hayden, NMEA president and executive director, in a statement. Training and seminar opportunities will cover the following: NMEA 2000 standard; QuickBooks training; E-navigation; satellite communications; Airmar transducers; GMDSS/FCC task force meeting; AIS installation and rules; thermal imaging; networks seminar; and antenna placement seminar.

Attendees can also see the new product rollouts from manufacturers for 2010 during the expo that will be open Oct. 1.

For information, call the NMEA office at (410) 975-9425.

Correct Craft sells 200,000th Nautique

Correct Craft recently manufactured a new Crossover Nautique 226, the 200,000th Nautique boat produced by the company.

The boat was sold to Barry Bone of Austin, Texas. His local Nautique dealer, Sail & Ski, held a celebration party to honor the occasion.

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"The entire Nautique team is thrilled to be celebrating the production of our 200,000th boat," Correct Craft president/CEO Bill Yeargin said in a statement.

NMMA presents its case against ethanol 15 waiver

The National Marine Manufacturers Association submitted nearly 40 pages of comments in August to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing a waiver that would allow ethanol blends up to 15 percent.

The waiver request was submitted by Growth Energy, a pro-ethanol lobby.

The NMMA has long contended that higher ethanol blends could lead to serious engine and other problems and that more testing is necessary before any increase in the ethanol  level can be permitted.

In its comments, the NMMA urged the EPA to deny the waiver petition in its entirety, including the issuance of a "partial waiver" that would attempt to create a dual fuel supply allowing the sale of E15 for newer motor vehicles.

"It is clear that EPA lacks the scientific and technical information required by law to approve the ethanol industry's request to allow E15, and we strongly urge EPA to deny the waiver petition," NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.

As a result of the NMMA's efforts, with support from the larger boating community, more than 30,000 marine industry employees, boaters and others submitted comments to EPA urging the agency to deny the waiver.

The NMMA says it will continue its strong advocacy on ethanol as the recent House-passed climate change bill moves through the Senate and faces attempts by legislators from farm states to include measures to increase the blend limit.

EPA has until Dec. 1 to grant or deny Growth Energy's waiver petition.

For information, contact Mat Dunn at mdunn@nmma.org or (202) 737-9760.

Regulator Marine wins safety and health award

Regulator Marine of Edenton, N.C., was recognized in August as the first boat manufacturer in the state to obtain the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration Carolina STAR Award.

Regulator is among only 120 of the approximately 260,000 employers throughout the state to be recognized as Carolina STAR sites. The STAR participants must meet all relevant OSHNC standards and have ongoing safety and health programs, and have illness incident rates and lost workday case rates 50 percent below the state average for their business sector.

"I am so proud of the hard work and effort every employee made in realizing this important milestone in Regulator's history" said Joan Maxwell, president of Regulator Marine, in a statement. "The results of this effort are already paying dividends. We have seen a dramatic decrease in our incident rates, putting us well below that of the boatbuilding industry average. We have realized a reduction in our insurance costs by demonstrating that we have a safe and healthy work environment, and that by putting safety first our employees are going home safely at the end of their shift each and every day."

This article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue.

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