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MRAA becomes owner of certified-dealer program

Grow Boating Inc. has transferred ownership of the Marine Industry Certified Dealership Program to the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.

The group had tapped the MRAA to oversee the program in mid-2013, but the MRAA now has ownership of the entire program, said MRAA president Matt Gruhn.

“Grow Boating is going to underwrite the program for first two years with a monthly stipend to keep the program on its feet, keep it up and running for the first two years of this transition,” Gruhn told Trade Only Today. “Then the MRAA will be out on its own with the program as of late 2016.”

As full owner of the MICD program, the MRAA is responsible for every aspect of managing, operating, marketing and promoting the program for dealers, including conducting dealer certification reviews and consultations.

Grow Boating is going to continue to market the program.

“It’s still a pillar of Grow Boating, just like the NMMA’s product certification program is a pillar of Grow Boating,” Gruhn said. “It’s still an industry effort to ensure the consumer experience with the industry is at a quality level and it remains one of the important pillars of what we’re trying to accomplish as an industry.”

In early 2014 the Grow Boating certification committee decided to part ways with Five Star Solutions, the program’s former facilitator. The group helped the MRAA with certification through the end of the year.

“In the process of searching for a replacement partnership, we ran into a situation where organizations that wanted to run it became too costly and didn’t allow us to make the program as cost-effective as we wanted to for dealers,” Gruhn said. “So the committee [made up of dealers and manufacturers] asked us to write a business plan to bring it in-house.”

The committee is made up of dealers and manufacturers.

“We’ve hired an independent consultant out of the auto industry, Paul Weaver, who has also done quite a bit of work in the marine industry, to come on board and do audits for us,” Gruhn said. “He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want to be our consultant; he wants to be a dealer coach, to help them grow and get better, so he fits so well with our approach to things.”

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