Diverse factors driving upstate NY boating industry optimism for 2015 season

Syracuse, N.Y. – Marine industry representatives in New York State are optimistic about the approaching boating season for reasons ranging from new boat models and incentives from manufacturers to repowering older boats and growing interest in wakesurfing.

Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York Executive Director Barb Caster references National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) statistics showing 2015 could be a good year.

“In February, the NMMA reported a 7 to 8 percent increase in new powerboat sales in 2014 with another 5 percent expected this year with growth continuing into 2017,” Caster says.

The NMMA cites boat shows as a leading sales venue and barometer for buying trends. At the Central New York Boat Show in Syracuse in mid-February, Geoff Smith of Smith Boys, with eight dealerships across New York State, noted a shift in consumer interest.

“People are tired of holding back from buying a boat. The lower price of gas and lower interest rates have helped push sales up a bit in recent years. People are looking to get out on the water for a few hours, so boats that can accommodate everyone and the grandkids are popular and the bigger the better,” said Smith, whose granddad began selling auto parts in 1937 and later transitioned to all-marine sales.

“For example, the boat manufacturers are stepping up every year with new amenities, added horsepower and new ideas that attract buyers, including joystick control and hydraulic swim platforms,” Smith added.

Smith Boys now has stores in Ashville, Brewerton, Buffalo, Coeymans, Conesus, Honeoye, Lakefield, North Tonawanda, Queensbury and Rochester.

Attention getters: Incentives, new activities

Steve Habecker, co-owner of Krenzer Marine, Sodus Point, is excited about the five-year warranty Chapparal is offering to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the brand.

“This stem-to-stern warranty is a big incentive, offering buyers peace of mind on everything from gauges and lights, to windows, electrical components and the trailer. To buy that kind of coverage would cost about $2,800,” Habecker said at the CNY Boat Show, where he had a 22-foot jet boat with a 500-horsepower, jet-propelled engine among several boats on display.

Krenzer Marine will extend its 2015 boat show pricing to draw buyers to his showroom into the early spring.

According to the NMMA, wakeboarding boats were among the styles of boat showing the strongest sales in 2014. Wakeboarding is riding a short surfboard on waves behind a boat going about 10 mph. Tige brand boats feature Ford Raptor engines and a non-planing convex vee hull and adjustable trim plates that helps make waves. The Sailboat Shop in Skaneateles is the only Tige dealer in New York state.

“Our priority is demonstrating how easy, low-impact, and how much fun wakesurfing can be for families and individuals. Every time we take someone out to try it, they ask for one more run,” said The Sailboat Shop General Manager Chris Beardsley.

“Once boating season arrives, we try to be on water somewhere in New York demonstrating the sport. We want to make wakesurfing as popular here as it is in places like Minnesota and Michigan,” Beardsley added.

Used boats staying on the water

“Another trend shows boating accessory and repair products increasing thanks in part to the used boat market,” says Caster.

A diversified business with marine store, fuel sales, service and marina along with boat sales has helped Arney’s Marina that began as a boat livery and bait shop in 1952 and continues today as a six-acre, 110-slip facility with 800 feet of waterfront on the west side of Sodus Bay in Sodus Point. Owner John Love has seen the industry standard Evinrude brand transform into E-Tec technology. His service technicians have more than 40 years experience with all types of engines from 2 to 225 hp models.

“If we were not in the marina business, we would be gone,” said Love. “The industry is gaining a little each year since some businesses closed with the flat economy in 2007-2008. A sector of our business that is doing well is repowering older, even 10 to 15-year-old, boats with modern engines.”

“Repowering is great way to keep an older boat. We look for opportunities to educate the public to distinguish remanufactured, not rebuilt, engines as a way to put a 90-percent-new engine into older boats to help meet EPA guidelines,” said Wayne Carroll of The Brewerton Boat Yard, Brewerton, in business since 1966. The family-owned complete marine service facility specializes in hard-to-find engine and motor parts with more than 60,000 parts in stock. Carroll brought several sizes of remanufactured engines to the CNY Boat Show.

A remanufactured fuel-efficient, EPA-friendly, lighter-weight engine that will fit existing gauges and controls can cost one-half to two-thirds less than a new engine, and Carroll points out, “The remanufactured engines use forged pistons and crankshafts that are stronger and meet the latest performance standards compared to rebuilt engines that need only replace cast parts to meet old factory standards.”

Public education is key

In November 2014, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas recognized the Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York for outstanding service to its members and the boating industry, in part for increasing public awareness about all aspects of boating. At its 2015 Central NY Boat Show, the association partnered with New York Sea Grant and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to offer an introduction to Suddenly In Command training that prepares non-boaters to handle an onboard emergency. A number of marinas will host the Suddenly In Command introduction program this summer. To learn more, contact New York Sea Grant at 315-312-3042.

Learn more about the Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York at www.cnybia.com or contact Barb Caster at 315-447-0593.

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