MIAMI BEACH — Though the current state of the marine industry is challenging, there are bright spots and reasons to believe things will begin to turn around later this year, Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said Thursday.
Speaking at the annual state of the industry address at the Miami International Boat Show, Dammrich told the crowd he expects the turnaround to begin in the second half of this year.
“The first half of 2009 will continue to be challenging, but by the third quarter we should begin to see an improving environment for the boating industry,” he said. “Though current economic conditions are depressing consumers' buying at the moment, dealers tell us there is significant pent-up demand among consumers attending boat shows.”
Dammrich said he believes that in the next 12 months credit will begin flowing again for retail and wholesale, the housing market will begin to stabilize, and consumer confidence will improve.
The NMMA, he said, is working to promote credit union lending for new-boat purchases and has pushed government officials to treat boating the same as automobiles in any stimulus package.
Legislation recently passed the House of Representatives that would allow TARP funds to be used to support dealer floorplan financing.
And though boat sales were down 28 percent in units and 25 percent in dollar sales in 2008, it’s anticipated that participation rates grew by 1 percent.
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that the work we do in this industry improves the quality of life of boaters, of the American public,” Dammrich said. “We cannot lose sight of the fact that boating remains the best way to spend quality time with family and friends, the best way to enjoy the outdoors or go fishing, and the best way to relax and get away from all of our stresses on land.”
“Boating is not going away,” he added. “I believe it will be back as big as ever.”
For more on the state of the industry, see the March issue of Soundings Trade Only.
— Beth Rosenberg