WASHINGTON – In what is being referred to as a monumental accord, a National Marine Manufacturers Association Dealer/Manufacturer Agreement Task Force introduced a set of guidelines for conducting business between the two sides here today.
The task force was created in the fall of 2003, and in the year and a half since, members have gathered for three two-day sessions, which were described as intense, yet non-confrontational.
The topics, which included most of the hot buttons, between the two parties, were said to never have been forced to a vote.
“This is a brand new day for the boating industry,” said David Slikkers, CEO of S2 Yachts, Inc., and the chairman of the task force, in a release issued today. “I am extremely proud of, and encouraged by, the collaborative and cooperative spirit of the task force as we worked through this process. We have created a foundation for future collaborative efforts to provide consumers with the finest products and the best boating experience.”
The ideas of that better boating experience surfaced in every phase of the process, from the mission statement through today’s press conference. The mission statement of the project was said to be, “To develop a non-legislative approach to improve dealer/manufacturer relations, creating guidelines that will be embraced by dealers and manufacturers alike, creating an environment for mutual trust, growth and success, while providing a delightful boating experience for our customers.”
The collaboration Slikkers referred to underscores the diversity of the task force, which was made up of representatives from 12 boatbuilders, 13 dealers and the Marine Retailers Association of America. The dealer body voiced its approval in what became a joint NMMA-MRAA announcement.
MRAA chairman Glenn Mazzella released a statement just prior to the announcement, which said, “MRAA is excited to see these positive steps. NMMA can expect our full support, once the final re-worked document is in place, and is actually being used by NMMA members. MRAA urges the NMMA boat manufacturer board members to unanimously adopt the implementation for their own dealers immediately.”
In some cases, immediately is being taken very seriously. Reportedly, NMMA’s Boat Manufacturers Division Board unanimously approved the guidelines and agreed to move ahead with implementing them. And more than 60 percent of the board showed a desire to get that done by the 2006 model year.
The plan includes three phases. The first phase is complete. It included the presentation of the guidelines.
Those guidelines “Address a large majority of the issues the MRAA members have requested for more the 20 years,” Mazzella’s statement said.
They include a three-year contract, a performance matrix, defined territories, the succession of transfer issues, termination protocols, warranties and sharing of financial data.
Phase 2 will include getting the dealers onboard and Phase 3 will establish a report card for monitoring progress. – Matt Gruhn
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