BI publisher named MRAA president

BOCA GRANDE, Fla. — The Marine Retailers Association of American has named Matt Gruhn the next president of the organization. He will succeed Phil Keeter, who is retiring at the end of 2011.

As group publisher overseeing Affinity Media’s trade group — Boating Industry, as well as Powersports Business magazines and their ancillary products — Gruhn was instrumental in implementing and executing Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers Program and the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, working on the latter in conjunction with the MRAA Convention Committee. A 14-year veteran of the marine industry, Gruhn has spent the last eight years at the helm of Boating Industry.

“Matt’s skills and experience are perfectly aligned with what we were looking for in a new leader for this association,” MRAA Chairman Dave Foulkrod said in a release. “Our Board of Directors is excited that he’s joining us as our new President because of his knowledge of the industry and his passion for working with and helping marine retailers grow their businesses.”

The search for the incoming president began Jan. 2 and during the first quarter of the year the seven-member MRAA Selection Committee, chaired by Larry Russo Sr., collected more than 90 resumes, according to the group. The committee narrowed the candidates down to a top 10 list after a formal resume review and scoring process. After the completion of phone interviews with the remaining candidates, five candidates were asked to be evaluated through a Caliper job placement test, and they then interviewed in person before the Selection Committee and the MRAA Board of Directors. The MRAA committee invested more than 500 hours collectively reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates.

“I’m extremely honored to be selected as the next MRAA President,” Gruhn said in the release. “Having worked with boat dealers so closely over the years, I really believe this position is a natural fit for my passion, and I’m excited to begin ramping up all that the MRAA has to offer today’s dealers.”

Gruhn will retain his role at Boating Industry for the next several months and will begin phasing into the president’s position around the start of the fourth quarter of 2011, working alongside Keeter. Keeter was one of 12 founding dealer members of the MRAA in 1972. He served on the MRAA’s Board of Directors from 1972 through 1982 and was selected as president of the association in February of 1988.

“The entire membership of MRAA will greatly benefit from the extensive process used by the selection committee to choose my successor,” Keeter said. “I’m delighted they chose Matt. I’ve worked closely with Matt the last few years and have grown to appreciate his passion for our industry. Matt will bring new ideas and concepts to the association that will benefit each of our members in the coming years.”

“Of course, I’m sorry that Matt will be leaving,” said Steve Hedlund, President of Boating Industry, “but MRAA is such a valued partner that this move can only enhance our relationship further. MRAA is getting a terrific leader.”

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