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For the Record: Platinum rolls out its first Michigan-made Glastron - Trade Only Today

For the Record: Platinum rolls out its first Michigan-made Glastron

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The Recreational Boat Group, a division of Platinum Equity affiliate Project Boat Holdings, says the first Glastron boat has come off the manufacturer's new production line at its Cadillac, Mich., plant.

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The first unit, a 2011 DS 205 deckboat, rolled off the production line May 28.

Under new owner Platinum Equity, production of the former Genmar brand was moved from Little Falls, Minn., to the Cadillac plant in February. Despite the move, product availability remains stable and on track, according to management.

"Our key objective, all along, has been to move this production without disruption to our networks, and the team has achieved this objective," says Recreational Boat Group president Roch Lambert. "We want our dealers to know that we are kicking off our 2011 model year with more energy, more resources and more focus than ever before."

Grow Boating fund redirection halted

As the industry explores recasting its Discover Boating campaign, the NMMA's boat manufacturers divisional board voted June 1 to end the redirection of Grow Boating assessments.

The 85 percent redirection of Grow Boating assessments to manufacturers, approved in October 2008 by the NMMA board of directors, will end July 1. The halt will last at least through Dec. 30 while a decision is made on the assessments.

"In the last two years in this recession, a lot has changed," says NMMA and Grow Boating president Thom Dammrich. "So I don't think we can just go back to marketing the way we did."

During the next few months, the Grow Boating board of directors will recruit an agency to help develop a marketing strategy based on shifts in how consumers decide on purchases in the post-recession economy. A new research and marketing campaign proposal is expected to be ready by fall. A determination on the next steps will follow, including a decision on potentially revamping its national Discover Boating campaign, including a date for the full relaunch.

The Marine Retailers Association of America's board of directors passed a motion April 23 asking that full funding be restored to the Grow Boating program and redirection of engine assessments be halted.

Contact NMMA's Carl Blackwell at cblackwell@nmma.org with questions.

Boating 2009: A look at sales, participation

The National Marine Manufacturers Association recently released its 2009 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, providing data that offers an in-depth look at the state of the industry.

Key findings from the NMMA's 2009 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract include:

  • An estimated $30.8 billion was generated in boating sales and services, a decrease of 9 percent from 2008.
  • In response to a weakened economy, the number of new boats sold decreased 19 percent to 572,500 units.
  • New boat and motor sales totaled $8.5 billion, a 24 percent decrease from 2008.
  • The traditional powerboat segment declined 24 percent in units to 153,550; retail sales were down 25 percent to $5.7 billion.
  • Adult participation in recreational boating decreased 6 percent to an estimated 65.9 million from 70 million in 2008.
  • Total boat and engine exports of $1.8 billion and imports of $1.2 billion resulted in a trade surplus of $574 million, down 34 percent from the previous year (which had the largest trade surplus since the NMMA began collecting data in 1996).

"There's no question the declines in the U.S. and world economy in 2009 had a significant impact on new-boat sales; however, our industry continues to find ways to position ourselves for future growth by adapting to the ever-changing economic landscape," NMMA president Thom Dammrich says in a statement.

Copies of the 2009 abstract can be ordered online or by contacting NMMA fulfillment coordinator Chris Keil at (312) 946-6209 or orderdesk@nmma.org.

Fountain dealer network gets floorplan financing

Liberty Associates has announced a floorplan financing program for the Fountain Powerboats' dealer network. Liberty's affiliate finance company, Palmetto Park Financial, will offer up to $5 million in financing to dealers.

"In our continuing efforts to support the Fountain and Baja brands, the Liberty team feels this is an important step to allow our dealers to have current model-year product on location to better serve their customer base," says Bill Gates, CEO of Liberty and chairman of Fountain Powerboats, in a statement.

Reggie Fountain, president of the company, says in a statement, "In the past 12 months, over 255 new Fountain boats have been sold to retail customers and therefore we have seen a dramatic decline in our field inventory levels as retail sales demand has outpaced new boat production."

Boatbuilders reporting consistently better news

Several industry manufacturers are reporting an improvement in business.

  • Regal Marine says it enjoyed its best month for product shipments since September 2008. "We shipped 150 boats in April and we anticipate May to be a strong month as well," says Tim Kuck, executive vice president and COO, in a statement. "We are headed in the right direction."
  • Twenty-three jetboats are in production or on order at the Hinckley Co.'s plant in Trenton, Maine, and the company is hiring back scores of employees laid off in the last year and a half, according to a report in the Bar Harbor Times. The turnaround began in the late summer and early fall of 2009, according to vice president of sales Phil Bennett, who says Hinckley never stopped production, turning out a handful of boats even at the lowest point of the recession. The company has rehired approximately 100 people at the Trenton plant and approximately 35 since January at its waterfront facility in Manset.
  • Donzi Marine officials say the company is experiencing strong retail demand, with more than 95 boats sold between July 2009 and April 2010. "We feel that the retail delivery of nearly 100 units with an average size of around 38 feet in a span of just 10 months is incredibly strong for a niche product in any economy," says John Walker, senior vice president and chief operations officer for Donzi's parent company, American Marine Holdings..
  • After emerging from bankruptcy with a new owner, Marquis Yachts has seen employment go from a few dozen earlier this year to about 235, with plans to extend that figure to about 275 this summer. Marquis, which builds both the Marquis and Carver yacht lines, says production has reached about a boat a week - a level achieved quicker than company officials initially planned. In January, production was zero.
  • Indiana pontoon boat manufacturer Bennington Marine plans to significantly increase hiring in the next two years. Diana Engle, vice president of administration, told Elkhart, Ind., officials the company is going to spend about $1 million on new equipment and plans to hire 80 new employees, according to a story from local CBS affiliate TV station WSBT. The company currently employs about 120.

"This time last year we were doing eight boats a day, three days a week," Engle told officials. "Currently, we are doing 20 boats a day, six days a week. We have dealers crying because they can't get production slots."

  • Michigan-based Sunsation Powerboats reports record prerelease sales with the introduction of its new 36-foot Dominator, which yielded eight preproduction orders, totaling $2.8 million at the manufacturer's suggested retail price. The previous record for preproduction orders was four, totaling less than $1 million at the manufacturer's suggested retail price, according to the company.

Decline in boat sales slows in first quarter

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First quarter 2010 data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows a slowdown in the decline of new powerboat sales, with a drop of 12 percent compared to a decline of 35 percent during the first quarter of 2009.

Sales of new aluminum powerboats in the 18-foot range increased 30 percent during the first quarter of 2010, the NMMA says in a release. Approximately 75 percent of the powerboat market is made up of outboard boats, and an estimated 50 percent of those boats are aluminum.

"Consumer spending and consumer confidence increases in March and April have helped boost new aluminum outboard powerboat sales, leading a recovery for the recreational boating industry as overall new powerboat sales declines slow," NMMA president Thom Dammrich says in a statement. "We anticipate 2010 new powerboat sales to remain flat with 2009 as the economic indicators that impact our industry - consumer confidence, housing and credit markets, as well as unemployment - start to improve and open the door for boat sales to begin increasing in 2011 and 2012."

Boat shipments abroad show 'significant' gains

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Chicago-based Peters & May USA shipped more than 350 boats in April - a "significant increase" over the preceding months, the company reports.

While April is a busy month for vessels moving to the Mediterranean for the summer, the company has also seen increases in the Australian, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern markets.

"This is positive news and a welcome break from the doom and gloom that has surrounded the whole marine industry for the past two years," says managing director David Holley, in a statement. "We'll continue to expand as the marine market rebuilds."

Boating mourns loss of two versatile authors

Well-known boating writer and editor Roy Attaway died May 9 of a stroke. He was in his early 70s.

Attaway worked as a reporter and editor for the Beaufort Gazette in Beaufort, S.C., and the Post & Courier in Charleston, S.C., before moving to New York City, where he was editor in chief of Boating and Yachting magazines and executive editor of MotorBoating and Sailing. He also worked as a producer, writer and director for ABC TV's "The American Sportsman."

Attaway contributed articles to many national journals and was the author of a memoir of his childhood in the South Carolina Lowcountry titled, "A Home in the Tall Marsh Grass," published by Lyons Press.

He was also an award-winning photographer, whose work was shown in galleries in New York and elsewhere, and often accompanied his writings.

Roger Fenn Duncan, co-author of "The Cruising Guide to the New England Coast," editions 5 through 11, died May 15 after an extended illness in his hometown of Boothbay, Maine. He was 93.

Duncan was an avid sailor, cruising aboard Eastward, his 32-foot Friendship sloop, for 40 summers as part of the Friendship Sloop Society in Friendship, Maine.

When Duncan was not sailing, he was a teacher, coach and administrator at the Fenn School in Concord, Mass., and Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Mass.

In addition to co-authoring the cruising guides, he was also the author of "Coastal Maine: A Maritime History," "The Story of Belmont Hill School 1923-83," "Eastward," "Friendship Sloops," "Sailing in the Fog," and "Practical Sailor."

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue.

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