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It was great at Elevate!

By David Gee

How much fun was that?! Our Elevate plan was to create something new and different for the recreational boating industry; a unique, leader-specific, industry-wide, future-driven, smaller-by-design, strategic conference unlike any the industry had ever seen.

And we are pleased and proud to say the first-ever Elevate conference went according to plan - and beyond!

The event got off to a good start with marine marketing maven Wanda Kenton Smith, president of Kenton Smith Marketing, moderating a panel on Women & Leadership in Boating. She was joined by Susan Bonivich of Volvo Penta, Angela Pilkington of Correct Craft, Kathleen Burns of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, Keri Doscher of Emerald Coast Marine Group and Kristen Frohnhoefer of Sea Tow International.

At the same time, Disney entertainment veteran and University of Central Florida professor Dr. Sean Bliznik led a breakout session about values-based leadership. He said, "Leaders establish, embody and enrich the values and vision by which their teams and organizations flouirsh."

Finishing up the first day, was a fireside chat with me and soon-to-be-retired CEO Ron Huibers of Volvo Penta, who spoke about his passion for boating, his career, and the future of the industry.

Saturday's keynote was Dr. Elliot Eisenberg, the "bowtie economist," who brought an energetic and enthusiastic approach to the boating industry and the broader economy. His main takeaway? We are not headed for a full-blown recession, but global growth is going to be slowest since then.

Author and consultant Karla Brandau spoke about personality types in the workplace and how to "earn discretionary effort from your employees."

A breakout on navigating political and economic uncertainty was led by John-Michael Donahue of the NMMA and Scott Crabtree of Yacht Executive Solutions.

Then I moderated a Dealer/Supplier Relationship panel consisting of Regal Marine's Tim Kuck, Oliver Ray of Ilmor, Jeff Husby of Regal and Nautique of Orlando and Quality Boats of Clearwater CEO Dan Bair. We touched on subjects such as dealer-manufacturer communication, nationally advertised pricing and other things.

Dr. James Pogue began the last day of Elevate with his keynote about multi-generational intelligence, stereotypes, conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace, and how to respect other perspectives.

Elevate's managing director Jonathan Sweet brought the event to a close with a panel discussion of Top 100 dealers including Dan Bair of Quality Boats, Amanda Levandowski of Charlotte Ski Boats and John Wooden of River Valley Marine.

Of course throughout, there was networking, conversations, exchanging of best practices and business cards, and interaction in the exhibit hall.

After a costume change into tuxedos and formal attire, hundreds of us gathered in the ballroom at the Rosen Centre for food, fun and lots of awards, including Top 100 Dealer of the Year, Quality Boats of Clearwater.

If you were a part of Elevate 2019, either as an attendee or sponsor, our heartfelt thanks.

And if you weren't, please make plans to join us next year. We will be announcing the time and place very soon!

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