ABC refocuses on becoming an all-industry event

CHICAGO – The American Boating Congress (ABC), which has existed for decades under various names, needs to get back on track as an all-industry event, according to Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which organizes the event.

While the event has typically attracted marine manufacturers, marina operators and representatives from groups and agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the States Organization for Boating Access, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the Center for Coastal Conservation and the American Sportfishing Association in recent years, it also attracted a number of representatives from the marine trades associations (MTAs) in the past, Dammrich stated in an interview yesterday.

Not only would he like to see the MTAs and marine dealers in general return to ABC in higher numbers, but Dammrich also suggested marine representatives and distributors would benefit from attending.

Most of the issues that will be discussed during this year’s event, scheduled to take place May 5 and 6 at The Liaison Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., have the potential to impact all marine companies. They include credit availability, floorplan financing, E15, and oceans policy and its impact on recreational fishing. The economy will also be a topic of discussion at the event, and members of Congress will speak on other issues as well, depending on where the country is on such topics as health care, cap and trade, etc.

However, while the educational sessions are a key piece of ABC, the most important opportunity is the trip up to the hill to visit with members of Congress. While small business owners may doubt the impact they can have on our country’s legislators, Dammrich suggested that doubt is unfounded.

“When a businessman, even a small businessman, walks into his Congressman’s office and says, ‘I’ve got a business in your district or state, and I employ 10 people, but there are 50 other businesses like me and together we employ 500 people,’ it makes a difference,” he said.

Dammrich explained that the relationships industry executives develop with their Congressmen can be among the most influential of their career.

“There’s almost nothing that can impact your business more than when the government takes action,” he said. “But you can’t wait until you have a problem to go build a relationship. You have to have the relationship first.”

For more information on ABC, including special early bird rates available through the end of the month, visit

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