Search is on for new MRAA president

The end of 2011 will also mark the end of Phil Keeter’s time as president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, a position he has held since 1988. With the announcement, earlier this year, of Keeter’s intent to retire, a search for his replacement was begun and formal interviews are to be completed this month during a meeting of the MRAA Board of Directors in Chicago.

MRAA Chairman David Foulkrod says that a succession committee has been formed to go through all of the applications received, winnow the list to the best applicants, and invite those people to Chicago to be interviewed. The succession committee will come in a day before the full MRAA board to conduct the interviews, then ask candidates who make the cut to stay and appear before the board – which will vote on who to pick – the next day.

Foulkrod says the new president will have a lot of different responsibilities to juggle, from public speaking to working with the board and with manufacturers, satisfying MRAA members, preparing budgets and managing people. With the emergence of electronic technology in recent years, Foulkrod says skills in that area are also an important consideration.

And, while finding a person with experience in boating or the boating industry would be preferable, Foulkrod says the MRAA president has to wear so many hats that a broad skill set is going to be of primary importance.

“We lobby in Washington, D.C., to protect the retail industry and to have a healthy marine environment,” Foulkrod says. “We also try to put together member benefits. So our members who join MRAA and pay to be in MRAA get benefits from being a member that more than offset the costs of joining MRAA. That’s why I say that when we’re hiring someone, it’s helpful to have someone with many talents. That individual may come in with a vision for us of member benefits that we hadn’t thought of. That individual may have more computer and Internet savvy or accounting savvy and a greater training in public speaking.”

Once the selection process is complete and a new president is hired, the current plan is to have that person in place by early in the third quarter of the calendar year. He or she will then be able to work alongside Keeter for the remainder of the year and learn more about the job.

“[Keeter will] certainly work during this transition period and be available to us,” Foulkrod says. “This has been his lifeblood, this industry, this association. He’s been in the marine business all his life. He has a great respect, a great concern for it. So he will be available to us as a guide and a counselor for the individual that we bring onboard.”

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