Leaders from Every Segment in Recreational
Boating Gather for Unprecedented Stakeholder Growth Summit, Agree to
Work Together to Grow Industry
CHICAGO — On Tuesday and Wednesday, December 13-14, leaders from every
segment across the entire recreational boating community, including the
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and a number of its board
members, gathered in Chicago, Ill., to address how to grow the industry
during a first-of-its-kind Recreational Boating Stakeholder Growth
The Summit was hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association
and attended by nearly 160 executives and leaders from all industry
segments including: bankers, big box retailers, consumer organizations,
dealers, distributors, insurance companies, boat, engine and accessory
manufacturers, marinas, boat yards, trade associations, publishers,
yacht brokers, marine representatives, and government groups. It was
the largest and most diverse all-industry discussion ever for the
recreational boating industry. The Summit was facilitated by the
Consensus Center from the Florida State University.
Opening the Summit was a presentation on "Trends in U.S. Recreational
Boating" from Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA, followed by a
presentation on "Changing U.S. Demographics and the Boating Industry,"
from Steve Murdock, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Rice University and
former director of the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Both presentations
helped shed light on the dramatic economic and socioeconomic shifts
taking place in the U.S. that impact, or will impact, recreational
"I think a lot of participants were shocked at some of the missed
opportunities, industry trends, and overall need for our industry to
adjust to the changing population in the U.S.," noted Dammrich. "The
Summit opened a lot of eyes and created a sense of urgency throughout
all industry segments to put something in motion to build recreational
boating that we can all work toward."
Prior to attending the Summit, participants completed an extensive
survey, answering questions and providing information to help the
facilitators create a foundation that the group worked from to begin the
all-industry dialogue. Out of the survey came four "vision statements"
for the industry to work against during the Summit, including visions
for our industry in 2021: "Unified Industry Cross Sector Collaboration
Brings Results — Boating Now the Preferred Recreational Choice,"
"Boating Participation Soars — New Generation, Highly Diverse, Family
Friendly Lifestyle and Consumer Friendly," "Expanded Access to the Water
and the Lifestyle Has Been Achieved," and "Smarter and Fewer
Regulations and Better Boating Education Results in Safe, Affordable and
Over the course of two days, topics addressing each Vision included, but
weren't limited to: existing and future demographics of the boating
consumer, marketing and communication strategies, the boating
experience, innovation and technology, industry collaboration, and
legislation and regulation. Summit participants offered initial thinking
and joint action priorities that will be addressed as a group in the
coming months. As a result of the Summit, a universal recognition
developed among all participants that all segments of the industry have a
role and an important stake in working together to develop approaches
to grow the recreational boating industry.
"It's critical that we work as an industry to move forward and grow
boating," says Dammrich. "Everyone must be involved. If you have a stake
in the future growth of boating, you need to be part of this
conversation if we're going to make a change and create a better future
for our industry."
Throughout the next six weeks, the facilitators from the Consensus
Center will compile a report of action items and focus areas agreed upon
by Summit participants that will act as a blueprint for the industry to
All members of the industry are encouraged to view the presentations
given during the Summit, which include: "The Landscape of Recreational
Boating in the United States (Trends)" from Dammrich; Changing U.S.
Demographics and The Boating Industry" from Dr. Murdock; "Learning from
Successful Initiatives: Industry Collaboration for Growth Case Study —
'Discover Boating Campaign'" also given by Dammrich; and "the Discover
Boating Campaign Results and Initiatives from 2011" from Carl Blackwell,
president of Grow Boating, Inc.