Momentum is building in our industry

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Need something to charge you up today? Check out these success stories:

IBEX: “This is a good time to be in the boating business,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich told a packed house last week at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference opening breakfast. What he didn’t know was that IBEX would score a stunning 47 percent attendance increase, indicating many others in the industry share his positive outlook. Overall, there were 558 exhibiting firms, up 15 percent, and a 35 percent increase in international attendance. Frankly, the enthusiasm of the 6,900-plus attendees was like the good old days.

MDCE: Marine Retailers Association of the Americas president Matt Gruhn has been predicting attendance at this year’s Marine Dealer Conference & Expo will hit a new high when it returns Nov. 16-19 in Orlando. It’s well on the way to meeting expectations with news that dealers responding to the early-bird registration that ended a week ago set a new record of 500-plus. The large early signup reflects the high expectation dealers have for the marine business going forward and the most extensive MDCE program of educational seminars yet complemented by an expanded exposition.

Discover Boating: For the fiscal year just ended, the industry’s Discover Boating initiative has chalked up an amazing set of numbers, clearly confirming the boating lifestyle message continues reaching an ever-growing audience. This year, a whopping 3,434,205 visitors connected to the Discover Boating website, an increase of 38 percent from last year. Equally impressive is that referrals from Discover Boating directly to manufacturer’s websites totaled 1,804,701, up 83 percent from last year. Reaching these levels of success is a solid indication that the interest in boating has returned to the marketplace. In spite of the fact that the industry should increase Discover Boating funding, the program is successfully “selling” boating on a large scale and that, ultimately, feeds success at the dealership level.

NMTC: With boat sales climbing again, the industry’s national and regional marine trades associations are also seeing increased success. That’s why this year’s 42nd annual meeting of the National Marine Trades Council is expected to be a full house. Leaders of major marine trade groups around the country will converge Nov. 15-16 in Orlando for two days of briefings, discussions and planning sessions. Both association management and boat show growth (most of the trade groups produce shows) are key segments of the meetings. With the expectation that this year’s NMTC will be the most informative in years, two former trade group presidents and NMTC chairmen have volunteered to coordinate the meeting’s agenda and activities — Van Snider (Michigan Boating Industries Association) and myself (Lake Erie Marine Trades Association.)

Here’s the bottom line: It’s becoming easy to find success stories and genuine expectations for continued growth almost everywhere in the boating industry, from the success of most consumer fall in-water shows to the obvious pursuit of more knowledge, training and expertise by record-setting numbers at events like IBEX and the coming MDCE and NMTC.

Yes, as Dammrich said, it is a good time . . . to see what’s happening in the industry and take advantage of opportunities to increase success.

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