Funds that used to go to Grow Boating are being used to help dealers sell boats in the down market, Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Grow Boating Inc., told Soundings Trade Only this morning.
The comments were made in response to the Marine Retailers Association of America's announcement earlier this week that it will launch a study into how 85 percent of Grow Boating engine assessment funds were used last year to increase boat sales.
The Advisory Council of Marine Associations asked the MRAA to look into the issue, saying that when the Grow Boating national campaign was suspended, 85 percent of the assessments were intended to go toward efforts designed to increase dealer sales.
"Grow Boating never billed the boatbuilders or engine builders for that money, we just reduced the assessment by 85 percent," Dammrich said. "I am confident that most, if not all, manufacturers have done exactly that. I've talked to dealers who have said 'Yes, manufacturers have helped me a lot.' "
There may have been confusion on some people's parts that dealers would receive a payment equal to 85 percent of the assessment and that was never the intention, Dammrich said. However, manufacturers have used the money to help reduce the cost of boat show participation, for rebate programs and other efforts.
The ACMA, however, said it has been unable to find dealers who can substantiate receipt of any Grow Boating support, the MRAA reported earlier this week.
Since the change in the Grow Boating program, the total dollars available for the efforts are down 92 percent, Dammrich said.
"With 8 percent of the money we still achieved 36 percent of the DVD requests, 19 percent of the hot prospects, 23 percent of the Web traffic and 40 percent of the PR results," he said. "Every dollar that we did get for Grow Boating was used extraordinarily productively to continue to produce good results for the industry."