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Grab the 2017 opportunity

By Jonathan Sweet

If nothing else, 2016 was interesting.

It seemed to be a year of turmoil, from social upheaval to an election season that left the nation divided.

2017 promises more of the same. Change is the new normal and how we adapt to it is the difference between success and failure. Business is changing, society is changing, the political world is certainly changing.

Elsewhere in this issue (p. 34) we talk about the changing marina industry. With big players like Safe Harbor and Suntex rapidly acquiring properties, the marina market is going to look very different in 2017 and 2018. Small players will face increased challenges as they compete against these super-sized operations. But just as small dealers and manufacturers have had to learn to survive and thrive against the likes of MarineMax and Brunswick Corp., the smart ones will find ways to succeed.

We don’t know what challenges and opportunities – and there will be both – a Trump administration and Republican Congress will bring to the boating industry, but one thing we do know is that it will be very different. We can probably expect fewer regulations and a generally more business-friendly environment. At the same time, on trade and environmental protections, there are likely to be disagreements.

Finally, and most importantly, the demographics of the country are changing. This issue gets plenty of coverage in our 2017 industry outlook starting on p. 28. We also partnered with the Recreational Boating Leadership Council’s New Markets Task Force on a webinar in January on the topic. You can find more from that webinar at BoatingIndustry.com/webinars.

As NMMA President Thom Dammrich points out in the outlook article, the coming Millennial generation is the most diverse in history. Reaching a more diverse buyer base of women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, whatever it may be, is not about being politically correct. It’s not about advancing a liberal agenda or doing the nice thing. It’s about not being an idiot and investing in the future of your business.

Whether you like it or not, we live in a world of constant change. You can whine and complain about it or you can grab the opportunity that 2017 presents.

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Speaking of grabbing your 2017 opportunity, a great way to get the recognition you deserve is to apply for the 2017 Top 100. The online application is now available at BoatingIndustry.com/top-100/application. Applications are due June 27, but it’s a good time to get started and get it out of the way before busy season.

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