From cultivating new buyers to workforce issues and boat-show results to dumping programs that don’t work, the three-day agenda was packed at the National Marine Trades Council in Newport, R.I., that wrapped up with the selection of Wendy Mackie as chair of the group.
Mackie is CEO of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and Composites Alliance. She succeeds Melissa Danko, executive director of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey who finished up her successful two-year stint as the group’s leader.
The NMTC, founded in 1972, is an informal group comprised of marine trade associations from across the country. MTA executive directors and officers meet twice annually to examine industry issues including boat show production, membership development and association management programs. This meeting in Newport was attended by 12 state and four national and international associations in a variety of sessions.
For example, in reporting on the more than 35 major industry-produced boat shows represented, all confirmed a rise in attendance, increased exhibitor space demand and generally strong product sales reflecting the positive growth being enjoyed industry wide. Looking forward, there was unanimous agreement that the trend should continue into the industry’s fall shows and on to next winter’s events.
There was also general agreement that MTAs around the country are seeing success in their efforts to increase membership, identify key legislative initiatives and improve fiscal management. In that regard, many MTAs explained how they are undertaking a strategic analysis of operations with the objective of pulling back or altogether dumping underutilized programs so as to better focus resources on those that provide best benefits to their membership.
One major benefit all MTAs and members can capitalize on is the national Discover Boating program. Freya Olson, assistant director for Discover Boating and Industry Relations, presented the newest DB materials and encouraged all MTAs to share the available collateral with our members and show exhibitors. These are free, professionally done and ready to use in any market.
In addition, several MTAs emphasized the roll associations can play in cultivating future boat buyers. They described various programs they’ve undertaken, especially efforts to introduce kids to boating at boat shows and on-water events.
Finally, the NMTC members didn’t duck the industry’s elephant in the room — the shared challenge of workforce development being felt around the country. To identify significant current opportunities to impact the workforce dilemma, several ongoing programs were explained by key speakers. Scott Jensen, director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor, spoke about association-led workforce development efforts; Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, presented an update on MRAA’s national workforce plan; and a “Strategies and Best Practices” session was slated to be led by Ed Sherman, ABYC education vice president.
Randall Lyons, executive director of the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association, offered an opportunity for other MTAs around the country to use a professional video MMTA has produced that highlights careers in our industry. And, RIMTA’s Mackie wrapped things up by highlighted a very successful Rhode Island program and is making herself available to other MTA’s to guide them through the process in their home states (email@example.com.)
"I am honored to serve as chairperson,” said Mackie. “NMTC has a long tradition of bringing industry leadership together to share best practices and foster partnership, comradery and communication across the national boating community.”
To that, Danko may have summed it up best saying: “The NMTC meeting is one of the most important meetings that I participate in every year. It was an honor to chair these past two years and I am proud to be a part of such a hardworking group of industry leaders.”