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American Boating Congress 2017

By Bill Yeargin

This week many of our industry’s leaders gathered in Washington, DC for the 2017 American Boating Congress. This is always an interesting week as our industry works together to understand, discuss and take action on key issues.

My ABC week began in a meeting of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council. Led by the very capable Matt Gruhn, our council is tackling many of the tough issues including identifying new markets, getting youth into boating, diversification, education and accessibility. As I listened to presentations from each of the RBLC Committee Chairs I was impressed by the quality of people in our industry and the creativity they are demonstrating in an effort to address these big issues.

Also at ABC, the boards of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of America met together for the first time in a historic meeting. As an NMMA board member I was impressed (and happy) to see these two organizations working together on key issues that impact us all.

We have plenty of important issues facing our industry including ethanol, access, trade, taxes, worker shortages, safety, education, diversity, infrastructure, conservation, accessibility and many more. I am thankful for Thom Dammrich and the entire NMMA team for keeping us focused on these key issues and organizing a conference like the ABC where we can both learn and take action.

While all of the issues are important, as I spoke to industry leaders this week in Washington the primary issue on their minds seems to be the current worker shortage. Almost every leader I spoke with is struggling to find the good people they need in their business. Assuming we have a growing economy and Baby Boomers continue to retire at the rate of 10,000 per day, this problem will only get worse. While our industry is working hard to address this issue and encourage people to come work with us, so are smart people in almost every industry, which does nothing to fix the macro problem of too few workers for the available jobs.

In my opinion, we need an effective national immigration policy that will help fill what some people project to be a multi-million person employee shortage in the years ahead. Of course we want to make sure jobs are offered to our current citizens and we want to properly vet new immigrants, but we have seen for over 200 years that allowing some hardworking people into the U.S. helps fuel the U.S. economy. I hope our industry can get behind this and support an immigration policy that works.

Overall, I am honored to be part of such a great industry that is led by people who are working hard to make it even better. To those who missed this year’s ABC, I encourage you to join us next year in Washington D.C.!

Bill Yeargin is the president and CEO of Correct Craft.

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