New Deal for Dealers?

MRAA says its 2019 event will leave attendees feeling immersed in surprising ways
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MRAA staff has big plans for the new event.

MRAA staff has big plans for the new event.

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas says its new conference, called Dealer Week, will have an educational focus and a format that will be different from what attendees at other shows are used to experiencing.


Until last year, the MRAA co-produced the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo with Boating Industry magazine in Orlando, Florida. The new Dealer Week event is a solo production for the MRAA. It is scheduled to take place Dec. 8-11 at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida.

“Our job at MRAA is and always has been to serve dealers, and we wanted to be extremely clear this event is built for dealers,” says MRAA president Matt Gruhn. “We’ll have a new approach to how we lay out the floorplan, and how we engage our partners. We were also strategic with the name and didn’t want a long one that would become an acronym. We wanted the word ‘dealer’ in the title to demonstrate how central they are to the event’s mission and success.”

The group retained a consultant, and held a two-day strategy session with about 60 industry leaders to shape the next event. Among the participants were Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance, Volvo Penta, Correct Craft, NMDA, MarineMax, One Water Marine and a number of smaller dealers.

“We want to make sure Dealer Week attracts more than just multi-location dealers,” says Gruhn. “We’re building educational content for the smaller dealers so we can address their pain points, too. The idea is to reach dealerships of all sizes.”

Joe Lewis, president of Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina, and board chair to the MRAA, is also enthusiastic about the approach: “I think Dealer Week is going to be like something this industry has never seen — certainly a more immersive experience, one where you feel like you’re a part of the event versus attending the event.”

The new logo includes the words “Dealer Week” in bold and all caps, a Charlie flag — which is used nautically to signify a change in course — and four stars.

“That flag was picked intentionally because not only are we changing course by reimagining how we want our conference to be delivered to the industry, but we want the conference to always stand for creating positive change for ourselves and our industry,” Gruhn says. “The four stars were chosen because the MRAA logo has three stars and the dealer certification logo has five.” n


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