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Michigan show shines, while biofuels group switches sides

Today is for “the wearin’ of the green.” But if you’re a Michigan dealer who exhibited in the recent 23rd annual Spring Boating Expo, it’s more likely “the bankin’ of the green.” That, and an unexpected group joining our industry’s call for changes in the Renewable Fuels Standard, leads today’s blog.

The Michigan Boating Industries Association just wrapped up its four-day suburban event and by all accounts it was another success, not unlike shows around the country have been experiencing all winter.

“We finished with attendance of 12,797 people,” MBIA executive director Nicki Polan said.

“Unfortunately, that was down 4.3 percent from last year because the weather was too good,” she said with a smile. I know from experience that she’s right.

A week earlier, the temperatures were hovering around 7 degrees. The greater Detroit area has had a brutal winter. When cold-weary Michiganders finally saw the sun and temperatures cracking 50 degrees last weekend, they opted to run errands, wash cars and do things they hadn’t been able to do in weeks or months.

How do I know? Because after running winter boat shows for 34 years, I can say it was absolutely predictable that if temperatures suddenly pushed into the 50-degree neighborhood, show daily attendance would take a 15-percent-plus hit every time (it was 68 degrees in Detroit yesterday).

Still the good news here is that the MBIA show did very well. More important than the attendance was the fact that business was strong on the show floor.

“The dealers we spoke to all had a good show and were pleased with the sales written at the event,” Polan said. “Once again we see boat sales continuing to move up here in Michigan, and dealers say they’re very confident even more sales will come from leads gathered at this event.”

With the industry’s winter schedule winding down, it’s clear that overall boat sales continue to steadily improve. Virtually all boat shows, save those directly impacted by weather, enjoyed improved results and the industry is looking for a solid spring selling season.

Biofuels turnabout

In a very notable move last week, the Advanced Biofuels Association reversed its support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and is now calling for Congress to “reform” the program. The National Marine Manufacturers Association’s daily newsletter Currents said the biofuels group represents advanced and cellulosic fuel producers.

With apparent changes in position like this one by the association, support continues to mount and pressure keeps building for Congress to act. This should help our efforts to reform the broken fuel standard and put an end to steadily increasing quantities of ethanol in our gasoline supplies.

If you haven’t taken action by going to the Boating United website I recommended in last Thursday’s blog, please read it and get involved now. Reforming the fuel standard is a top marine industry priority.

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