At the Helm: Moving You Beyond

Inside our latest print issue, you can get an early peek at the 2012 Marine Dealer Conference & Expo through the event’s first printed brochure. A digital version is also available here.

On its cover, you’ll notice this year’s theme: Moving You Beyond. Naturally, the first question some of you will ask is, “Beyond what?”

To begin with, beyond the recession. In 2008, the first year the convention adopted the name MDCE, the very first session was called “Survival Mode.” Two months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and in the midst of some of the darkest days of the recession, it was an apt title.

In subsequent years, MDCE sessions focused on recovery and growth, as we watched sales declines gradually slow until this year — finally — we saw sales cross over into positive territory.

With that change, we’re ready to move beyond discussions of when the world will return to “normal” and focus on the opportunities available today. At this year’s MDCE, we’ll cover “Secrets To Winning More Than Your Fair Share Of Sales,” “Techniques For Boosting Repeat Business” as well as how to “Sell More Service.”

We also want to move beyond your expectations. That applies to expectations for your business as well as expectations for the conference.


Marine dealers have learned a lot in the past few years — they had to in order to survive. That’s great for the industry, and it means the average attendee at MDCE comes in with more knowledge than at any point in the event’s history. As a result, we’ve created several “expert sessions” that have been expanded by 30 minutes to allow presenters to go beyond the basics and really dive into the topic they are presenting. These sessions include “Taking Your Service Department To The Next (Profit) Level,” “Growth: How To Know When You’re Ready” and “Five Digital Strategies To Reach Customers In 2013: A Mini-Conference.”

There are many more reasons this year’s theme fits with our vision for the conference, but I’ll just offer one final example of what we want to go beyond: today’s marine industry.

As we’ve discussed in the pages of this magazine, the boat-buying consumer is rapidly changing, and we will explore those trends in further detail in a session called “Demographic Trends: What They Mean For Your Business.” Not only that, we’re bringing back the popular Industry Leaders Panel to close the event, and this year’s topic will be “Preparing For Tomorrow’s Challenges and Opportunities.”

I’ve only mentioned a few of the 22 sessions that will take place over the conference’s four days, so your next step is to move beyond this column and peel out the complete brochure. If you’ve been to the conference before, I hope seeing it gets you excited for the fall. If you’ve never been, I hope you take a look at what this year’s event has to offer.

This November in Orlando, an impressive group of marine professionals will gather to look at how to move this industry beyond today’s challenges and into the future. I look forward to seeing you there.

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