Fast start for Matt Gruhn, MRAA’s new leader

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It’s not unusual for there to be a lag in activity and direction when the leadership of a large association changes. But, if you’re thinking that’s likely to happen at the Marine Retailers Association of America, you can relax - just the opposite appears to be true.

MRAA’s new president Matt Gruhn has wasted no time making known his intention is to guide the organization that represents the marine industry’s retailers to new levels of member service. His enthusiasm was obvious throughout the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo that ended last night in Orlando, Fla. Gruhn never missed a step as he weighed in at meetings like the National Marine Trades Council, the Advisory Council of Marine Associations, the MRAA board and a myriad of similar events surrounding the MDCE.

MRAA’s retiring president Phil Keeter was honored by a large crowd at a dinner Tuesday evening (see Beth Rosenberg’s report in yesterday’s TradeOnlyToday) for his 23 years at the helm of the organization. During that time, Keeter has piloted MRAA to a position of prominence in the industry as the national voice of marine dealers. However, while recognizing the natural need for a distinct association that holds the interests of all marine dealers (manufacturers are represented by NMMA) as its highest priority, Keeter has been a tireless advocate of industry-wide commitment to programs that will advance the industry, such as Grow Boating.

In passing the baton, Keeter told the dinner crowd: “It had been a great run. But it’s a new day, with new technology and new opportunities that my generation can’t even imagine. But Matt (Gruhn) is the ‘new’ generation and he will use his talent and knowledge to make MRAA and its members more successful than ever. There’s no doubt we made the right choice."

Gruhn has wasted no time in getting things started. He has already announced MRAA will team up with Dominion Marine Media to create the Marine Retail University, a series of one-day regional educational conferences for all marine dealers across the country. On another front, we can expect him to announce a weekly blog he’ll initiate aimed at keeping all MRAA members informed on a regular basis. And, he has told members to watch for more announcements of other new programs in the next few months. Yes, Gruhn clearly represents new energy for MRAA!

But, I can’t end today’s blog without a personal note, if you please. I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Phil Keeter for some 25 years. He has been the kind of leader that naturally draws your respect and support. He has championed the cause of our industry’s retailers with wisdom and integrity. You always knew where he stood and you could always count on him to be at your side if you asked him for help.
The best way I can describe what Phil has meant to our industry is this: Being around Phil made me better . . . he has made us all better! Thanks for everything, Phil.

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