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‘I manage trade associations much like a public company’

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Frank Hugelmeyer, who joined the National Marine Manufacturers Association as president-elect on July 15, released a letter to members today recounting his first three weeks on the job.

“My parents always said, ‘Son, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason,’” Hugelmeyer said in the letter. “That was good advice. Since joining NMMA July 15th, I've followed those wise words and focused my time on listening and learning.”

The president-elect traveled with NMMA president Thom Dammrich in the first week on the job to a gathering of state marine industries associations in Washington state. Hugelmeyer said he met with marine industry association leaders from more than dozen states as well as NMMA members in the Northwest. “These interactions allowed me to better understand the role of the local marine association and how we can work together to further our strategic vision,” he wrote.

Frank Hugelmeyer and his son, Cole, are avid anglers.

Frank Hugelmeyer and his son, Cole, are avid anglers.

Last week, Hugelmeyer met with NMMA staff in its Chicago offices. “I sat down with most of the NMMA team to understand what they would like more of, less of, and kept the same,” he wrote. “Along with Thom, I met with the senior leadership team to formulate our FY20 plan and budget, which we'll present to the NMMA Executive Committee in September.”

This week, Hugelmeyer said, he will be meeting with association leaders across multiple manufacturing sectors to learn about “unique issues and opportunities” facing the boating industry. He said he will continue to meet with others in the industry.

Hugelmeyer grew up on Long Island, New York, where he was introduced to boating. “When I was a kid, my family literally camped out full-time every summer at Fire Island on my parent's 28' Seabird,” said Hugelmeyer. “Docked alongside our beloved sportfishing boat was an extended family armada owned by grandparents, uncles, and cousins that included a Chris-Craft, Pembroke, Egg Harbor, Hatteras, Robalo, and Cobia.”

Hugelmeyer worked for private-sector companies in sporting goods retail and manufacturing as well as for two industry associations, including 16 years as CEO of the Outdoor Industry Association and four years as president of the Recreational Vehicle Industry.

“I manage trade associations much like a public company,” he wrote. “Members are the shareholder/owners and it is the job of management to raise the total market cap of the industry, generate greater return for members, and leave the organization in better shape than inherited.”

Hugelmeyer said his “primary goal” over the next months is to integrate into the NMMA culture and “work to maintain the momentum Thom and the team have created.” He will formally assume the president’s title on October 1 at IBEX.

He noted that NMMA’s recent “board-approved strategic plan” has two main priorities: drive sales by attracting more consumers to the boating lifestyle and deliver business-friendly, offense-focused advocacy.

“We will stay laser focused on implementing and improving our signature programs while remaining nimble enough to meet any unexpected industry challenges as we go,” he wrote. “The NMMA boards and team will continue to make certain NMMA is relevant to your company and that your financial investment in industry-wide initiatives generates the returns you expect. Your voice is critical to our success and lights the path forward.”

Hugelmeyer added he was “humbled” to join NMMA. “It’s an honor to carry on NMMA's valuable impact and influence in Thom’s footsteps,” he wrote. “Collaborating with the exceptional group of professionals who make up the NMMA membership and team attracted me to this role and has me more excited than I could have imagined for what's ahead.”

Finally, he wrote, he was grateful to combine his professional life with his “lifelong passion” for being on the water, “while championing the lifestyle and products that provide such enriching outdoor experiences.” 

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