LAS VEGAS – The Marine Retailers Association of America is reporting record attendance at its 2005 convention, which kicked off here at the Stardust Resort in Las Vegas today.
A little more than 500 dealers representing about 400 dealerships are in attendance vs. the 350 dealers that attended last year’s event, according to Phil Keeter, MRAA president. In addition, the show features twice as many table top exhibits as last year, more than the event has ever had.
“We have more progressive, aggressive dealers from around the country that are striving to get a competitive advantage” by coming to the show, Keeter explained in an interview this morning. “With the speakers we have this year, we’re going to have people who are just elated to be here.”
A number of efforts aimed at both increasing the attendance and improving the overall professionalism of the dealer body are credited for enticing more dealers this year.
Dealer certification program expected to reel in big numbers
Last year’s attendance was aided by Challenge 1,000, a united effort to attract higher number of attendees. That effort was launched by a select group of dealers and supported by a few state and regional associations.
That same effort, albeit with less exposure, was executed again this year, with the MRAA 20 Groups playing a major part.
Keeter said that while those involved were disappointed they didn’t hit 1,000 attendees this year, they’re making good progress.
Larry Russo, president and CEO of Russo Marine and a past chairman of MRAA, credited the rise in attendance to both the dealer certification program and the Boating Industry Top 100 gala celebration.
Russo, also the chairman for the Dealer Standards and Quality Task Force portion of the Grow Boating Initiative, presented the certification outline to kick off the convention this morning. He was joined by 5 Star Solutions President Robert Williams, who has extensive experience in such a certification program, based on his time as a creator of Chrysler Corp.’s Five Star initiative.
Keeter said he expects at least 200 dealers to sign up for certification during the convention.
The Boating Industry Top 100 Dealer gala celebration, an event held by this newsletter’s staff, will recognize the top dealers in North America based on professionalism and overall business operations. The event, which will be held following the final day of the MRAA Convention, is expected to draw nearly 350 people, and Russo also said this has helped attract more people to the convention.
Agenda also a lure
The MRAA Convention goes into a full schedule of events tomorrow after opening with a limited, shared schedule with the Marine1One Show.
Rob “Waldo” Waldman, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a highly decorated combat veteran, will share his unique experience in both the military and corporate America – he holds an MBA with a focus on Organizational Behavior and as an entrepreneur has developed in to a “peak performance expert.” His message will highlight the qualities of success: disciplined training, dedicated teamwork, impassioned leadership and unwavering trust.
Aarn Rosen of Statistical Surveys will present influential economic factors affecting marine dealers in his presentation, The Marine Industry Past, Present and Future.
National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich will update attendees on the progress of the Grow Boating Initiative.
In another presentation of the economic outlook, Dr. Robert Genetski, a leading interest rate forecaster and investment advisor and the author of several books on the subjects, will provide an overview on the outlook for 2006, stressing interest rates and oil cost projections.
Two of the industry’s biggest topics, Dealer/Manufacturer agreements and 5 Star Dealer Certification, will be presented early Wednesday afternoon.
The final presentation on Wednesday, How to Have Your Best Year Ever, will be given by Joe Verde, a leader in dealer management and sales training for the automotive industry.
On Thursday, two seminars will be mixed with two discussion panels. The first seminar, Xtreme Selling, Personal Branding is Gold, will be presented by Paul D. Cummings, a 24-year veteran of helping clients solve problems and increase their bottom lines.
In the afternoon, Dave Anderson, author of more than 50 training programs on sales, management and leadership, will present How to Fix and Face the Top Ten Sins of Leadership.
Prior to the lunch break, there will be a dealer issues forum, a discussion of current topics of vital interest to the success of marine dealerships. And in the afternoon, leading boat and engine manufacturers will discuss the industry in the Industry Leaders Panel.
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