In-Depth: Hundreds of next steps for Grow Boating

CHICAGO - After months of momentum building for the Grow Boating meeting that took place last week at the Miami International Boat Show, those heading up the Grow Boating Initiative are pursuing “hundreds of next steps” to continue to move it forward.

That's according to Thom Dammrich, National Marine Manufacturers Association president, who expressed confidence during an interview today that while there is still much work to be done, “the basic strategy is a sound one.”

Those steps include finalizing the funding model, which is expected to take place during a meeting within the next 30 days; launching Phase One of dealer certification; finalizing the governance of the initiative; developing the Web site for the Discover Boating advertising campaign; and creating a lead dissemination process for the campaign, said Dammrich.

It also includes continuing to raise money for the Grow Boating Start-Up Fund. While the initial goal for the fundraising was $2 million, Dammrich says the pot will probably need to reach $2.3 million.

Funding dealer certification

At this point, that money has been used strictly for the Grow Boating marketing and advertising campaign; however, it also may be used for Phase One of dealer certification, which is expected to cost $170,000.

Five Star Solutions, a brand new company created by the executives who ran Chrysler Corp.'s Five Star dealer certification program, has been chosen to administer the marine industry's dealer certification program.

During Phase One of the program, Five Star Solutions will create a blueprint for dealer certification with the help of a team of 25 dealers, who will participate in a pilot program. Phase Two, under which dealer certification will be launched, is expected to start during the fourth quarter of this year.

Dammrich expects that while there may be some up-front costs involved in Phase Two that will be paid by NMMA or by the start-up fund, the majority of it will be paid by dealers, which will be required to fund the cost of their own participation. Some boat builders may decide to help their dealers pay for certification, but those contributions will be voluntary, he said.

Governing the effort

The NMMA president is currently in the early stages of creating a white paper on how the Grow Boating Initiative will be governed in the future.

Though a final decision has yet to be made, it is likely that a corporation will be formed to oversee and govern the marketing campaign, according to Dammrich. Such a corporation might be called Discover Boating Inc. after the name of the marketing campaign.

NMMA, however, would continue to drive its own certification program for boat builders and the statistical effort. Dealer certification could either fall under the new corporation or exist as a separate entity, he said.

While Dammrich is creating the first draft of the white paper, NMMA, the Marine Retailers Association of America and “others” will likely make the final decision regarding governance together.

Ultimately, the NMMA president expects that there will be a link between financial contributions to Grow Boating and governance.

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-- Liz Walz

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