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Leadership council formed at growth summit

Industry leaders gathered in Illinois for a third growth summit — a forum composed of marine industry leaders invested in the recreation’s future, the National Marine Manufacturers Association announced this week.

On Dec. 4, about 30 people representing diverse organizations and companies reconvened in Rosemont, Ill., to discuss industry trends and the challenges of growing the industry in the near and long-term future. The effort brings together all corners of the industry.

Participants created the Recreational Boating Leadership Council, a steering committee to oversee and coordinate the efforts laid out in two previous meetings, as well as individual committees to oversee individual priority action items.

The group also appointed Marine Retailers Association of the Americas president Matt Gruhn as chairman; Association of Marina Industries president Jim Frye as vice chairman; and National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich as secretary.

The role of the council is to coordinate efforts and shared resources and communicate progress, and it is slated to meet twice a year to collaborate.

During the summit, the council reviewed progress made on the six priority action areas created during the first and second growth summits, identified and discussed shared opportunities and resources to address next steps on these priorities and established leadership teams responsible for moving each priority forward.

Leadership teams responsible for each of the six priority actions identified in previous meetings —marketing communications, youth, affordability, diversity, education and advocacy — include:

The marketing communications group’s priority is to improve recreational boating industry stakeholders’ understanding and support of the industry’s Discover Boating and Welcome to the Water campaigns, and further engagement in the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and the Take Me Fishing campaign.

Co-chairmen: Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center and Grow Boating; and Carl Blackwell, NMMA and Grow Boating.

Members: Jim Emmons, Water Sports Industry Association; Nancy Cueroni, National Marine Distributors Association; Michael Cassidy, RBFF; Glenn Hughes, Bonnier Corp.; Dean Waite, Soundings Trade Only; and Bill Watters, Syntec Industries.

The youth team’s goals are to examine existing youth boating programs to understand opportunities and needs.

Co-chairmen: George Harris, Northwest Marine Trade Association; and Keith Christopher, Boy Scouts of America.

Members: Jack Gierhart, US Sailing; Melissa Danko, Marine Trades Association of New Jersey; Randy Short, Almar Marinas; and Amy Collins, Boating Industry magazine.

The affordability priority is to understand buyer habits, explore opportunities for new points of entry and provide education and access to information for boaters and potential boaters.

Chairman: Bill Otto, Lake Effect Financial Services/National Marine Bankers Association.

Members: Jim Coburn, Coburn & Associates/National Marine Bankers Association; and Tom Knighten, American Sailing Association and Discover Boating.

The diversity group’s focus is the country’s changing demographics and the need for understanding the challenges and opportunities of this growing diversity.

Chairman: Thom Dammrich, NMMA.

Members: Lou Sandoval, Karma Yacht Sales; and Margaret Podlich, BoatUS.

The focus of the education group will be to rally the industry around Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day events in 2013, which will offer hands-on training and expand access to boating.

Chairman: Jon Kukuk, Nestegg Marine/Wisconsin Marina Association.

Members: Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center/Grow Boating Inc.; Jim Frye, Westrec Marinas/Association of Marina Industries; Margaret Podlich, BoatUS; Jack Gierhart, US Sailing; Charlie Nobles, American Sailing Association; Jonathan Sweet, Boating Industry magazine; and members across each represented regional marine trade association.

The advocacy priority will work to improve the industry’s presence on Capitol Hill to protect and grow recreational boating. The group agreed that all members of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council will attend the American Boating Congress May 8-9 in Washington, D.C., and encourage their respective organizations and members to attend in order to enhance the voice of recreational boating.

Chairman: Jim Currie, NMMA.

Members: all co-hosts of the American Boating Congress.

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