Interview with MRAA Chairman Glenn Mazzella


Boating Industry: As the chairman of one of the industry’s leading associations, your background is of particular interest to our readers. Can you share with us how many years you’ve worked in the marine industry? How did you become involved in this industry?

Glenn Mazzella: I have worked in the marine industry ever since my graduation from Fordham University in 1985. Until 1992, I worked for two of the nation’s largest marine retailers in almost every sales and management position within the dealerships. It all started with taking a sales job at one of the dealerships, which I did because Fordham’s Business School dean advised me to do so. The dean thought I would be bored with corporate America and told me that if I went into the retail field and learned what customers wanted, it would be the fastest track to opening my own business. His advice was well given and well received.

Boating Industry: What company do you currently work for? What are your title and responsibilities at that company?

Glenn Mazzella: I currently own and operate Glenn Marine Family Boating Centers in Long Island, N.Y. Glenn Marine has two full-service locations where we sell and service Cobalt, Larson, Mariah and Stamas yachts. Besides owning Glenn Marine, I also have 50 percent ownership in World Wide Yacht Corp. World Wide Yacht is the exclusive distributor of Norwegian-made Windy Yachts in the United States. Finally, I own a wholesale manufacturer’s representative company, which exclusively sells Campion boats to dealers on the East Coast.

Boating Industry: Who has served as a role model or example for you in your professional development?

Glenn Mazzella: Probably the owners of the two dealerships that I worked for after college served as my most important professional role models. Most of what I know about sales and management I learned from Frank Virgentino and Dan Gudzik. There are also two educators who impacted my life as it relates to professionalism and ethics, Dr. Nic Mauro and Dr. Joseph Muzio. I was also fortunate to have a mother who was very strong willed and always pushed my independence, which I believe resulted in my leadership ability.


Boating Industry: Congratulations on being selected as chairman of your association! What would you say is your No. 1 goal in your new position? Why is that goal so important to you?

Glenn Mazzella: My goal is to not lose momentum as we strengthen the MRAA through membership and benefits for our dealers. As your readers know, the MRAA has never played a more significant role with reference to the landscape for future business. The Grow Boating Initiative, relationships between builders and dealers, and long-range planning for MRAA are chief among the subtopics that I will structure around this goal.

Boating Industry: What skills do you possess that will allow you to achieve that goal and other goals within the association? What kind of a leader would you describe yourself as? Why did you decide to serve as chairman of your association?

Glenn Mazzella: My best skill is probably my ability to delegate tasks to people who are capable of executing them. Recognizing that capability is much harder than the delegation process itself. I am extremely organized and make very good use of my time. I’d like to think that I lead by example. I play a very active role in my own companies, and I have served on MRAA’s board for seven years where I sat on various committees and task forces. Finally, I think people appreciate my candor. Everyone knows where they stand with me, and that should serve me well as I begin relationships with our industry leaders. From my college years to the present, I have served as president or chairman for many organizations, including clubs homeowners and industry associations. More than anything else, I represent a new breed of up and coming retailers. Many of them, like me, started their business without inheritance and the challenges they face are unique. Having said that, it is important to note that I am considerably old fashioned. I love being around the elder statesmen in our business, and I always acknowledge the fact that the paved the way for us. I listen more than I talk when I am around a John Underwood, a Larry Russo or a Gary Briggs.


Boating Industry: How would you describe the role of your association in the industry at large?

Glenn Mazzella: The MRAA’s primary function is to represent dealers. Obviously, with all that is going on, our success and good decision making is vital right now. I should hope that under my watch, we will capitalize on all of the hard work the ladies and gentlemen before me did to get us to this point. Phil Keeter told me that I might look like a genius when this thing is over, and I hope I do. The truth is, however, the dealers leading our association over the last 20 years never gave up while being shot down constantly.

Boating Industry: How is your association perceived by the industry at large? Are these perceptions fair?

Glenn Mazzella: For dealers who are already MRAA members, I believe the perception is very good. Unfortunately, too many dealers are not involved, or don’t even know that we are their association. So I think the problem is not perception but awareness.

Boating Industry: What are the association’s strengths and weaknesses?

Glenn Mazzella: Our greatest strength is credibility. When dealers need advice, direction and education, they can come to us. We are providing priceless information this way from our industry leaders. Our weakness lies in the numbers. We need more members. As I write this, I am pleased that our recent convention in Las Vegas saw a huge increase in membership and attendance.

Boating Industry: How would you evaluate the job your association has done in serving its members in the past two years and why?

Glenn Mazzella: For the past two years, Chairman (John) Sima has increased membership benefits greatly. There are now programs that save our dealers a lot of money on things like business insurance, shipping and credit card processing. Sima, and John Underwood before him, brought the Vegas convention venue back after several years of absence. This was a critical move that is now serving us well.

Boating Industry: What changes or improvements would you like to see your association make to do a better job of serving its members in the future?

Glenn Mazzella: The biggest improvement has already been made, and that is the forging of a healthy working relationship with the NMMA. Phil Keeter and Thom Dammrich get most of the credit for that. We have got to find a way to better communicate the MRAA’s benefits to prospective dealers.


Boating Industry: What are the three biggest challenges the industry as a whole faces today and what should be done to overcome them? What are the three biggest opportunities the industry has to improve itself in the future and what should be done to take advantage of them?

Glenn Mazzella: Not losing momentum on the Grow Boating Initiative. We must see this to fruition as we are practically the only pleasure industry left without a prime time national awareness campaign. Much has already been written, by myself and others, to explain the steps necessary so the initiative does not fail. Everyone must take action. Relationships between builders and dealers still have a long way to go. This industry will never operate in a functional manner while there are companies doing millions of dollars in business without written agreements that serve both parties. The customer experience has got to be rectified. Builders should stop doing business with dealers that do not provide adequate service, and dealers should constantly strive to find manufacturers that pay retail for warranty work.

Boating Industry: What impact do you believe the Grow Boating Initiative will have on our industry?

Glenn Mazzella: I have said before that the Grow Boating Initiative will bring us a national campaign that will do for us the same thing that “Got Milk” did for the dairy industry. Business and sales always reduces itself to math. If 50 people come into your showroom, you will probably sell three boats, and if 3 people come into your showroom, you will probably sell no boats. If 50 million people are excited by the concept and lifestyle of boating depicted on television and printing, there is a greater change of 50 people coming into your showroom. Simple math.

Boating Industry: What main ingredients are required to ensure the success of the Grow Boating Initiative?

Glenn Mazzella: The main ingredient to ensure success for Grow Boating is a viable assessment plan that everyone agrees on. We have all talked about a “per-horsepower” assessment, and I believe that would be the best solution.

Boating Industry: Is dealer certification integral to the success of the Grow Boating Initiative and ultimately the industry at large? Should it even be part of the initiative? Why or why not?

Glenn Mazzella: Dealer certification is absolutely integral, and we must be sure to direct the appropriate funds to training. If we are going to get millions of new consumers, we had better give them an experience that is different and improved from what they get now.

Boating Industry: How has the dumping issue impacted your business, if at all? What effect has the dumping debate had on the marine industry? Do you believe getting to the bottom of the dumping allegations has been a worthwhile endeavor or a waste of time and energy?

Glenn Mazzella: The debate affects the industry in that it stalls us. Our seasonal type of business requires much advanced planning and purchasing. Issues like dumping give us infrequent economies of scale. One thing that can always hurt business is external variables. The truth, in my opinion, is that our industry suffers with this topic in a bigger way. It is not really about dumping, it is about too few suppliers.

Boating Industry: How do you feel about Brunswick’s acquisition strategy? Do you feel it is healthy for the industry? Why or why not?

Glenn Mazzella: I don’t have strong opinions either way about Brunswick’s strategy. There is enough business for everyone, and customer taste today is so specific that more than ever there is room and demand for thousands of variations in product. When I was growing up, there were four or five sodas to choose from. Now, there are roughly 150. I, of course, believe that capitalism, and the business practices derived from it, must be conducted in a fair and legal way.

Boating Industry: Putting yourself in the shoes of a consumer, what do you think are the three best things and three worst things about being a boater today?

Glenn Mazzella: The three best things about being a boater are freedom, affordability and the ability to increase family time. The three worse things are poor back end service, a short season (for much of the country) and poor quality. There are still too many boats being built with sub-par quality.

Boating Industry: What companies or organizations inside our industry are setting the best examples for how we as an industry should be doing business?

Glenn Mazzella: The Cobalt and Grady Whites of the business continue to lead the way in dealer relationships and quality. There are SO many independent companies that are following that lead – Regulator, Campion and Parker to name a few. I have just taken on Larson, a Genmar product, my first experience with a larger builder. I am excited to see what the benefits of that are. So far, they have been incredibly easy and fair to deal with. Aside from builders, E-Trade, Bombardier, Key Bank and GE Commercial are all financial leaders who are doing a great job in our industry at practically every level. Volvo Penta builds quality and is very dealer friendly. Finally, there are retailers all across the country that have set the standard for so many years and continue to do so. Russo Marine in Massachusetts, Causeway Marina in New Jersey and Minnetonka Marine in Minnesota are three that come to mind when I think of dealerships I’d like to buy from as a customer.

Boating Industry: What companies or organizations outside our industry are setting the best examples for how we should be doing business?

Glenn Mazzella: Like everyone else, my answer is the automobile industry. I know we cannot duplicate everything they do because the numbers are not there. If your readers agree, however, that there are far too many boats being sold with inferior quality, then let’s examine the least expensive car on the market and comment on its quality. It is 100-percent better than our lowest priced boats. We must charge more to get the quality up and increase the margin enough to support the customers. If this is true, then what are we afraid of? Why do we think that a customer won’t pay $30,000 for a $28,000 boat when they gladly pay $30,000, $40,000 and $50,000 for their automobile?

Boating Industry: Are there any marine industry topics of discussion we haven’t covered that you would like to address?

Glenn Mazzella: I am looking forward to my tenure as chairman of MRAA and am openly inviting all dealers to join us so we can raise the bar a few more notches.

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