Industry Leaders panel packs room at MDCE


Marine Dealer Conference & Expo
November 16, 2012
Filed under Features, News, Top Stories

Press Release

ORLANDO, November 16, 2012 – Hundreds of boat dealers came out to hear from four industry leaders, as the Industry Leaders panel wrapped up the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo here this week.

This year’s Industry Leaders panel featured Dusty McCoy, chairman and CEO of Brunswick Corp.; Ben Speciale, president of Yamaha’s Marine Group; Paxson St. Clair, CEO of Cobalt Boats; and Bruce Van Wagoner, president of the Marine Group at GE Capital; and was moderated by Boating Industry Editor in Chief Jonathan Sweet.

The panelists tackled several topics facing the industry, including changing demographics, affordability and government regulations. They agreed that their outlook for 2013 is positive, depending on what happens with the “fiscal cliff.”

Some highlights from the discussion:

Changing demographics of the United States

McCoy said he sees the changing ethnic make-up of the country as an opportunity, citing the family-centered life of many growing populations.

“Ultimately, boating is a family activity,” he said. “The family and social activity are at the center of those cultures.”

At the same time, failing to market to those cultures will lead to a smaller and smaller industry, McCoy said.

“We’re the Republican Party of industries,” he said. “If we continue to ignore it and don’t change, we’ll be in trouble.”

On affordability and government regulations

The panelists agreed that financing challenges and the pricing of boats continue to be a challenge.

Government regulations add to the cost of doing business for everyone in the purchase cycle, from boat builders to banks to dealers, Van Wagoner said.

The industry needs to work together to fight those regulations, the panelists agreed.

“You need to know your senator, know your congressman, and reach out to them on these issues,” Speciale said.

On the recession and the outlook for 2013

“We’re in a position to grow again,” McCoy said. “We’re more excited about the marine industry now that we were in 2005.”

The biggest lesson from the recession, St. Clair said, was that dealers and builders need to be more careful with their inventory levels.

MDCE is co-produced by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry magazine.

About the MRAA: Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas is the only North American association dedicated to furthering the interests of boat and engine dealers and other marine-related retailers throughout North America. For more information, visit

About Boating Industry: Boating Industry serves the marine industry through its mission to be a source of Intelligence you can profit from, in person at events such as MDCE, online at, through in-depth white papers and in the magazine.


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