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Wind in our sails as winter boat shows near

Concern about weak Black Friday sales and whether they might indicate the economy is slowing was misleading. That’s because the actual November retail sales results released last week beat expectations.

Specifically, total retail sales rose a healthy 0.7 percent in November as holiday shopping got under way. Analysts had expected a rise of only 0.4 percent. Moreover, those results even overcame the rapid drop in gasoline prices that reduced the dollar value of gas station sales by 0.8 percent.

This is the kind of wind we want in our sails as we move into the industry’s winter boat show schedule that will start in just 14 days at the Houston Boat, Sport & Travel Show, which runs Jan. 2-11. With the marked increases in attendance and boat sales reported by virtually all the industry’s major fall in-water shows, there’s an obvious tailwind that could carry the winter shows to the biggest increases since 2008. If you’re not in your local boat show, you should be.

Meanwhile, at the National RV Industry Trade Show earlier this month, Recreational Vehicle Industry Assocation president Richard Coon reportedly donned his “Carnac” hat and predicted that a decline in RV sales could come as early as 2017, according to reports in the Elkhart Truth. But until then the industry is going to be on a roll and has already returned to pre-recession levels.

Interestingly, the RVIA decided to graph RV production trends during the last 35 years and a pattern emerged. Every eight to 11 years, wholesale shipments to dealers have sunk to a low point. It happened in 1980, 1990, 2001 and 2009, coinciding with cyclical downturns in the national economy.

While it’s believed the marine industry has never undertaken any similar study, it might be meaningful to do one. While it could indicate the timing of a downturn, which is inevitably part of the free economic system, couldn’t it also predict the length of time we can expect to see continued growth?

Finally, last week the Michigan Boating Industries Association presented its prestigious Lighthouse Awards to two individuals while inducting one member into the MBIA Hall of Fame for 2014.

Tim Lucas, national program manager at Harbor Risk Insurance received a Lighthouse Award for his extraordinary effectiveness in helping grow MBIA membership through the MBIA safety rebate program.

A Lighthouse was also awarded to Vicki Springstead, chairwoman of Higgins Lake Foundation for generous support of a boat wash station at the Higgins Lake public access site. The boat wash, positioned just before the boat launch area, is the first of its kind in a Michigan State Park and reflects the Higgins Lake Foundation’s efforts to prevent the spread of invasive species

Tony Krupa, founder of Krupa’s Boat Mart in Jackson was inducted into the MBIA Michigan Hall of Fame. “My father is a true pioneer boating retailer. His vision 59 years ago to provide a fun and superior boating experience in both sales and service continues to inspire our family and staff,” said son Gary Krupa, now president. “His annual Krupa’s Boat Shows, starting in 1956, were the first true boat shows in Michigan and were a huge hit with boating families. He has always set the standard for retail excellence.”

In conducting Krupa into the Hall of Fame, MBIA executive director Nicki Polan said: “Longevity is never a guarantee. It's something you have to fight for and work toward. Mr. Krupa is being recognized for that longevity, his excellence and his promotion of recreational boating.”


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