WASHINGTON — This year’s American Boating Congress drew 35 supporting co-hosts, giving the industry its strongest voice ever in the nation’s capital, National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich said this morning.
“The decision was made several years ago to begin inviting co-hosts to ABC to make it an ‘industry event,’ ” Dammrich told attendees in his opening speech on the final day of the ABC at the Renaissance Marriott.
“In the first year we had 14 co-hosts, and in the second year we had in the mid-20s, and this year we had 35 co-host organizations … covering the full gamut of our industry. Every segment. The co-hosts don’t just put their name on this. They participate in regular conference calls and are actively involved in planning the event and promoting the event to their members to bring more people to ABC.”
Dammrich had the crowd give itself a round of applause for representing the industry and uniting around advocacy. He started his 12-minute speech by driving home the importance of each segment of the industry getting its voice heard, as well as the industry as a whole.
“Our industry is like an ecosystem, made up of many different parts, but we are all interrelated and anything that adversely affects one segment of our industry is eventually going to impact the whole ecosystem,” he said.
NMMA executive committee chairwoman Joan Maxwell followed up on the topic of participation. She urged members to invite another advocate to next year’s ABC. Attendance pays off — Maxwell has seen it.
“We’ve had two congressional visits and one senatorial visit to Regulator Marine,” said Maxwell, whose company is in Edenton, N.C. “That wouldn’t have happened without our presence here.”
Dammrich presented this year’s ABC Ambassador Award to the Yacht Brokers Association of America. Its executive director, Vin Petrella, accepted the award. Dammrich described the association’s high level of promotion of the event.
“They reached hundreds daily and thousands weekly through their newsletter and emails; their digital marketing [about] ABC included postings on social media; there were bulk email campaigns and countless press releases posted to their website.”
Dammrich highlighted the industry’s top five legislative priorities. “These are issues we want to be talking to Congress about,” he said.
The issues are fuel and changes to the renewable fuel policy (to prevent E15), recreational fishing (and changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act); the reauthorization of the Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund; boating access; and tax reform.
“We need to make sure, as they reform the tax bill, boating is not unfairly singled out for some adverse action related to tax reform,” he said.
The NMMA produced infographics (one-page handouts) for industry members to use to tell lawmakers about the economic significance of recreational boating. Three types of graphic cards highlight national, state and district economic effects.