ABC 2014: NMMA president: ‘Our industry is an ecosystem’

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WASHINGTON — Bring a friend.

That was the message National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich gave 225 conferees today on the final day of the American Boating Congress.

“I encourage everyone to bring a competitor or a supplier, so next year we’ll have 450 people,” Dammrich said. “Just the appointments our staff made reached 250 congressional offices, and we know some made their own appointments. There are 535 congressional offices and I’m confident we’ll visit half of them.”

Reminding members of Congress of the recreational boating industry’s $35 billion in sales reach and the 340,000 people employed is crucial, Dammrich said. “We’re important to our nation’s economy,” he said. “Contrary to people’s perceptions that boating is only for the wealthy, 75 percent of boat owners have household incomes of less than $100,000.”

Emphasizing that it is a middle-class recreation that supports middle-class jobs is as important as it is for the industry to recognize that it works together as a whole.

“Our industry is an ecosystem,” Dammrich said. “If something happens that impacts one part of our industry adversely, it eventually impacts another part of our industry adversely.”

On the question of support for ethanol in big farm states, Dammrich told Trade Only that boating industry advocates should stress that the industry is not anti-ethanol — just opposed to an increase of ethanol in the fuel supply because marine engines can’t handle a higher concentration than E10.

“We are not going to get every member of Congress to agree on every issue,” Dammrich said. “The farm states are a problem.”

The average piece of legislation takes seven years to get through Congress. “”We’ve got to have staying power to persevere,” he said.