A Familiar Show During Strange Times
This year’s Innovation Awards were presented by Judging Panel Chairwoman Zuzana Prochazka, technical editor for Latitudes & Attitudes magazine. Thomas Dammrich of the NMMA joins her on stage.
The Boating Industry Canada team was not sure what we would find when we arrived at the Orlando
Conference Centre on July 15, 2009.
Would this be like previous years?
Would the exhibit floor be way down?
Would attendance be off dramatically?
Or, will people continue boating and
buying both repairs and accessory
upgrades to their current boats? Of
course, that is what we hoped for.
However, with the new boat market in
the US down perhaps 50% from recent
levels, these are strange times. The
industry has seen downturns before but
no one remembers anything like this.
“This is not a recession for boating, it
is a depression,” commented Thom
Dammrich of the NMMA when we interviewed him at the show. “Things are really bad for new boat manufacturers and
their suppliers, but businesses that serve
existing boaters are in a better position.
Aftermarket sales are up. Marina storage
is OK or even up. The activity of boating
is healthy,” Thom stated.
This year, the MAATS show manager
was Stephen Evans who celebrates his
10th anniversary with the NMMA next
February. Stephen has attended every
one of the nine MAATS shows. This year
was the second time MAATS had been
held in Orlando.
“Orlando serves us well. This is our
second year to market to dealers to
attend the show,” Stephen Evans said.
“Dealers joined the show for the first
time last year. We had 70 dealers register
last year compared to 255 dealers now.
Orlando is a great market for the dealers
and we’ve heard a lot from them at the
“Also, when you’re in the same place
for eight years, you need a change,” he
continued. “Coming to Orlando satisfies
that and attracts new attendees. The
dealer participation is greatly improved
this year. They get a chance to comment
personally and meet the manufacturers.
The manufacturers want dealers to pull
the product through the system chain,
so this gives them an important and convenient opportunity to talk.”
We asked Stephen Evans how aftermarket and accessory sales were this
year. “Anecdotally, we’re hearing numbers like a 15% increase in accessories
sales this year,” Stephen said. “In today’s
tough economic climate, the dealer who
promotes accessories now and their service later when things get better, who
will sell the new boat? The dealer who
has been delivering great service.”
He went on to report that the size of
the show compared to 2008 is down by
20% to 25% but between the economy
and the state of the industry, this comes
as no surprise. Attendance is down a
comparable amount but the dealers have
helped to pick that up.
MAATS again was preceded by the
National Marine Distributors Association’s Sales, Training, Education and
Purchasing Conference, (STEP) held
July 13 and 14. NMDA executive director Nancy Cueroni called her event a
success, with about 18 distributors
attending, the same number as last year.
“The mood was positive,” she says. “We
Boating Industry Canada also interviewed Maria del Valle, the Director of