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New Jersey MTA Celebrates 50 years of Advocacy

“Our founders came together out of necessity and to accomplish what no one person could do.”

Those are the words of Greg Wright, president of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, addressing the organization’s celebration of a half-century of advancing recreational boating interests in the Garden State.

“It is through their efforts and successes that we are here today protecting, growing and advancing the boating industry in New Jersey,” he added during a gala dinner and elections last week.

In 1972, a number of business owners saw the urgency of having a stronger voice to address the challenges the industry was facing. MTA/NJ’s first president, Richard Korman of Capt. Richie’s Marina in Forked River, put it this way:

“The marine industry currently faces a lack of representation on all levels of government, inaccessibility to area officials, a lack of bargaining power when dealing with suppliers, and disunity in other business dealings.”

Fifty years later, the boating industry is well-organized nationally and regionally, of course. But it’s a head-scratcher to know that many marine businesses still don’t get it — that numbers mean positive influence in today’s business and regulatory world — and aren’t members of their local marine trade associations.

In presenting her update, MTA/NJ executive director Melissa Danko highlighted the work and success of the association over the years. For example:

• gaining the reduced boat sales tax

• increasing public access

• creating two highly successful annual boat shows: the Jersey Shore Boat Sale and Expo, held in September at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, and the New Jersey Boat Sale and Expo held in February at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison

• helping leading members navigate difficult times, such as the disastrous luxury tax, multiple recessions, Hurricane Sandy and a pandemic

The association also has championed the protection of New Jersey’s waterways by ensuring they’re clean, safe and navigable.

MTA/NJ also:

• has provided thousands of dollars in scholarships and training funds to help support and grow the industry’s workforce

• is steadfastly helping grow the industry by bringing new and younger boaters to the water

• has created partnerships and forged valuable relationships with state agencies and legislators, and key alliances with other marine organizations

Of course, this is what good MTAs do and why supporting them is a no-brainer.

“It is a wonderful night to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” Danko said. “I have had the honor of representing the association for over 20 years, and I know that I would not be here if it was not for all those who worked so hard before me. I look forward to continuing the great work of our association and supporting our members for many more years to come.”

Attendees browsed through vintage photos and documents reflecting the history and milestones of the association. And everyone enjoyed a special cake to close out the evening and parted with an anniversary favor.

But the real message from MTA/NJ’s gala should be clear to every businessperson in our industry. Trade associations do precisely what Korman, the past president, said: They accomplish what no one person — dealer, manufacturer, supplier — could do.

So is there a necessity to stand up in our chaotic and unpredictable times? It’s my view that the power of membership — national, regional or both — is one of the best investments you can make.

Look into joining an MTA today.

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