Nobody Asked Me, But…

Here are my thoughts on several issues in the marine industry that I think deserve either “Darts” or “Laurels.” This is a bit of a departure from my normal column, but I feel strongly that each of these issues needs some further comment.

Laurel – to NMMA’s Discover Boating program and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s “Water Works Wonders” program that kicked off June 2. It’s great. But it needs to be in more markets with greater frequency to reach more than 25 markets and an estimated 350,000 people over a six-month period. My big question is: Why can’t the members of the NMMA financially support a large national ad campaign like what has worked so well for the RV industry? This really puzzles me. Come on guys … get together on this!

Laurel – to NMMA and IBEX for finally merging the Boatbuilding and IBEX shows into one event. It was senseless to have two events that were trying to accomplish the same thing.

Dart – to the industry and NMMA for not finding a way to have an annual venue where manufacturers, distributors and dealers can come together to see new products, enjoy productive seminars, meet other industry people, share ideas, etc., like in the IMTEC days. Unfortunately, the trend that started several years ago of builders having dealer meetings and new product introductions earlier and earlier each year was a major reason why IMTEC failed. Dealers tell me that they believe that builders try to have their meetings earlier than their competitors so they can get dealers’ floor plans loaded before the other brands can get to them.

Dart – to the boat builders who continue to hold dealer meetings and new product introductions in the summer. Come on now. What is the most logical thing for your dealers to be doing every day in the peak of the short boating season … selling your boats or spending several days attending three or four or perhaps even more dealer meetings? Dealers tell me that they resent the time away from their businesses when they need to be home selling boats. And they resent the dealer meeting programs designed to load them with new model year product when they are still trying to sell “current” models that are becoming “non-current” mid season.

Laurel – to Irwin Jacobs of Genmar for taking a leadership role in trying to get the industry to hold dealer meetings in September or later. Laurel also to Cobalt Boats, Lund, Grady-White, Hatteras Yachts, and Pursuit Fishing Boats and perhaps others for already scheduling their dealer meetings in September and October. Honorable mention goes to Triton’s Manitou and Aurora Pontoon Boats, Tiara Yachts, Sea Fox, Monterey Boats, Mariah Boats, Campion Boats, Harris Kayot, Eliminator Custom Boats, and Alumacraft Boat Company’s southern meeting for scheduling dealer meetings in late August. At least that’s better than June or July.

Laurel – to the MRAA and its November annual conference that is being held in conjunction with the Marine One distributor show. This has the potential of becoming THE annual venue the industry needs where dealers, manufacturers and distributors can come together. This is an event dealers should consider!

Laurel – to MRAA for its new freight program, which can save dealers big bucks on FedEx ground and air shipments and LTL shipments with Yellow Transportation and Overnite. This is one more advantage of joining MRAA.

Dart – to boat builders who sell loose outboard motors to dealers in violation of their contractual agreements with engine manufacturers, sometimes at prices lower than what dealers pay when they buy directly from the engine manufacturers. This just messes up the market even more and is harmful to the industry. Recently, I heard reports of one builder selling a large volume of one brand of outboards to a non-authorized dealer, who in turn is selling them on the Internet all over the country at lowball prices. One dealer reported to me that this unauthorized dealer was selling outboards retail on the Internet for less than what they cost him direct from the factory. This is crazy and has been very harmful to dealers everywhere, especially the authorized dealers of that particular brand of outboards.

Laurel – to the MRAA for the e-training program that was recently announced. The MRAA Learning Center is a resource that supports development of dealers and their employees through a simplified and one-stop access to high quality e-training products and
services. Partnering with Bob Clements International, MRAA will have over 50 courses on-line by the end of 2003. I heard Bob Clements speak at last fall’s MRAA conference, and he is great! I encourage dealers to participate.

That’s it for now. I have temporarily run out of darts.

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