Many boat show organizers say the uncertainty surrounding the former Genmar brands is impacting their shows, as dealers struggle to determine what's next for those boat lines.
As of late last year, Four Winns was the only Genmar company that had committed to showing at the Feb. 11-15 Miami International Boat Show, according to show manager Cathy Rick-Joule. Rick-Joule says she's had conversations with representatives of other Genmar brands, including Wellcraft and Ranger, but those companies hadn't made final decisions.
"They don't know what their situation is ... where the money will come from," says Rick-Joule, who points out that she can sell space until the show opens and can shuffle things around at the last minute if necessary.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which produces the Miami show, among others, would not comment on how its other winter shows have been affected, but many show managers around the country say there have been noticeable changes. "There's definitely going to be fewer brands at the Seattle Boat Show because of the uncertainties around Genmar right now," says George Harris, president of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, which produces the Seattle show. "We're going to have just as many boats on display; they just won't be Genmar's."
Harris says the Seattle show had problems with Genmar brands dropping out last year, too. A Carver dealership in the area closed just prior to that show, he says, and the brand will not be represented this year either. He says there should be some Genmar brands at the show, but in early January he didn't know how many.
Some dealers, Harris says, made arrangements with other manufacturers so they could still exhibit. "The Larson dealer is going to be selling something else at the show," says Harris. "They found replacement brands already.
"The Seattle show was known as a Bayliner show, and maybe if that was a criticism a few years ago ... now maybe that's helped us," he says. "So many of the Brunswick brands do so well here in the Northwest" - in particular, Meridian, Trophy and Bayliner.
Phil Keeter, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, says he's sure many dealers have taken on additional lines so they can still participate in the shows. Those who have Genmar brands in stock, though, may be reluctant to bring those boats to shows, he says. For example, if a consumer is looking at a Genmar boat and mentions that to a dealer for a rival line, that dealer could say, "Well, you know they are in bankruptcy," Keeter explains.
"I think you're going to find in most cases ... Genmar dealers, unless they're just stocked heavy with merchandise, aren't going to show that stuff," he says. Glastron and Four Winns are both out of February's Tulsa (Okla.) Boat, Sport & Travel Show, Keeter says.
Grant Westerson, executive director of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, says the situation
hasn't had much of an impact on his organization's Hartford Boat Show, although he wasn't certain how many Genmar brands would be represented. "I'm sure that there's a number of dealers that are obviously affected because their inventory is down at a very low level, [since] the Genmar stuff hasn't shaken out yet," he says. "Has it affected us? Yeah. Has it affected us a lot? Not really."
Ken Alvey, manager of the Mid-America Boat & Fishing Show in Cleveland, says it's pretty much "business as usual" at his show as well. Though his show, like most, is smaller than in past years, he expects most brands will be represented, even if it's through older models - something the show is now allowing. And consumers, he says, may only be aware of the Genmar situation if other dealers "negatively sell at the show."
Still, most agree the uncertainty has had a ripple effect throughout the show circuit. "I think most shows are going to be void of a large amount of Genmar product," Keeter says. "I don't know how it could be any other way."
This article originally appeared in the February 2010 issue.