By Jamie Stafford
Just last week, the Boating Industry ELEVATE SUMMIT – the premier educational and networking event for leaders across the recreational marine industry – wrapped up in sunny Orlando, Fla. ELEVATE is produced and hosted by Boating Industry and parent company EPG Brand Acceleration. The conference, hosted over three days, featured plenty of keynote speakers and Q&A panels.
The event kicked off on Nov. 14, with an afternoon panel. Editor-in-chief Adam Quandt interviewed the 2022 Mover & Shaker winner, Aine Denari, in a conversation that covered topics ranging from advocacy and work culture to attracting fresh talent to how she brings her experience in the automotive industry to serve the marine industry.
Curtis Dubay, the chief economist for the Economic Policy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, kicked off day two and spoke about the challenges of inflation, rising interest rates, the prospects of a full-blown recession, changes in consumer spending, and other issues facing the entire outdoor recreation industry. “We’re in for rough economic times,” Dubay said, “but there is good news buried in bad news.” According to Dubay, inflation will continue to be an issue, but the industry is not facing insurmountable odds when it comes to growth.
This was reflected in the next panel, featuring Aine Denari, president of Brunswick Boat Group; Bill Yeargin, president and CEO of Correct Craft; Danny Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of Marine Connection; Dan Cowens founder of Oasis Marinas. These leaders came together to discuss the state of the industry. All in all, the year is ending on a positive note, and businesses in all areas of the industry need to stay proactive about customer service and scouting for new talent.
After catching up on the state of the recreational boating industry, attendees got an update on boating legislation from Callie Hoyt, NMMA's Director of Federal Government Relations. Hoyt provided an overview of what NMMA has been working towards on Capitol Hill, as well as touched on the recent outdoor recreation economic report, which provided new numbers on just how much the industry contributes to the economy – $862 billion in revenue, a truly staggering amount.
Later, Angela Pilkington, CFO of Correct Craft; Ann Baldree, senior VP of Chaparral and Robalo Boats; Morgan Bailey, marketing director for Forest River Marine; Stephanie Vatalaro, senior VP of marketing and communications for the RBFF; and Nicole Armstrong, Women Making Waves award winner and VP of corporate initiatives at Priority One Financial Services all came together to discuss excelling as a woman in the industry.
The day’s panels ended with John Adey, president of the American Boat and Yacht Council, reporting on new initiatives the ABYC is taking in workplace development. “We realized no one’s going to get into this industry if we can’t provide schools with the information to teach what people need to learn,” Adey said. To this end, the ABYC created a curriculum for technical high schools and colleges to use. They also created a certification program and partnered with SkillsUSA to promote technician training. Adey echoed what many of the panels earlier in the day had highlighted: capturing the next generation’s attention – both as workers and as consumers – is vital.
Both Nov. 14 and 15 then concluded with a networking reception allowing attendees and sponsors alike to mingle and connect with others across the powersports and marine industry professionals.
The final day of ELEVATE dawned bright as attendees made their way to the convention center. David Gee, former editor in chief of Boating Industry, was there to greet them. He started the day on a high note with his discussion of marketing best practices. Gee stressed that it was all about the story: by getting potential customers to connect with boating, they invest in the future of marine recreation.
Following Gee’s presentation, Sean Marerro, president of Watershed Innovation and Ingenity Electric, took the stage to talk about the possibilities of electric and what Ingenity is doing to move the needle. Electric is just one part of the larger equation of what exactly consumers are looking for these days. To fill in the rest of this equation, Jack Ellis, the managing director of Info-Link; Aaron Carver, data solutions manager at Lightspeed and Robert Grant, manufacturer solutions at CDK Global provided insights into what the market looks like and what trends can be predicted going into 2023. Info-Link, Lightspeed and CDK Global all partner with Boating Industry to produce the annual Market Data Book, an invaluable tool for any manufacturer, retailer, or marina.
While the Market Data Book is a popular resource for illuminating consumers habits, Boating Industry has taken it a step further to ask consumers directly what they’re looking for. Through the magazine’s parent company EPG Brand Acceleration and sister company EPG Specialty Information, Boating Industry is now capable of aggregating consumer survey data to provide even more in-depth feedback about demographics and decision-making to marine businesses.
ELEVATE saved one of the most-anticipated panels for last, interviewing three of the top dealers recognized in the 2022 Top 100 Awards. Frank Ferraro of Nautical Ventures, Nick Doetsch of Pasadena Boat Works and Lisa Murphy of Gregg Orr Marine sat down with editor-in-chief Adam Quandt to discuss the success of their respective dealerships. Topics ranged from newly implemented practices to managing inventory to marketing updates.
Finally, the exclusive invite-only event that many had been waiting for concluded the Summit with a bang. This year, the Top 100 Awards Gala looked a little different. Reflecting Boating Industry’scommitment to serving the entirerecreational marine industry, the Top 100 awards not only recognized the 2022 Top Dealers, but also the 2022 40 Under 40 and Women Making Waves.
The ELEVATE SUMMIT and the Top 100 Awards Gala will return in 2023 in Texas. Keep your eyes peeled for dates and more information in the coming months in the pages of Boating Industry and online at www.BoatingIndustryElevate.com.
The 2022 Boating Industry ELEVATE SUMMIT was possible thanks to the following sponsors:
Silver: ARI, Boats for Sale, Constellation Dealership Software, Dealer Spike, Morgan Stanley, National Powersport Auctions (NPA), Performance Brokerage Services and United States Warranty Corporation.
The 2022 Top 100 Awards program was made possible thanks to the 2022 Leadership Alliance:
The 2022 Women Making Waves Awards were made possible thanks to the follow sponsors: