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2012 Industry Growth Summit
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NEW: Growth Summit addresses six critical topics at April 3 meeting.

Industry leaders from nearly every sector gathered in Chicago for the second time on April 3 to discuss ways that the industry can collaborate to grow participation in boating. Other efforts have been launched toward the same goal, but never have so many sectors been invited to participate in the conversation.

At the April 3rd meeting, the topics of discussion were broken down into six categories, and those six categories had been determined by the rankings of more than 160 participants at the initial Growth Summit meeting and a pre-event survey of the nearly 40 people who gathered at the April meeting. Those topics were as follows:

  1. Marketing Message/Campaign. Encourage the universal adoption and support of the "Discover Boating" and "Welcome to the Water" campaign as a joint strategy to focus resources across stakeholder sectors on a consistent marketing message regarding the boating lifestyle for the benefit of all stakeholder sectors.
  2. Boating Education Initiative. Implement a boating education initiative that builds on best practices, focuses on new boaters and features on-the-water experiential programs to improve boating experience and address fears of new boaters.
  3. Youth Initiative. Create and implement an initiative focusing on recreational boating recruitment of youth.
  4. Recreational Boating Advocacy and Accessibility. Strengthen recreational boating advocacy through cross sector collaboration at the federal, state and local levels to address key industry-wide issues including boating access.
  5. Recreational Boating Affordability. Address affordability issues by joint actions that reduce the total cost of boating and put more people on the water.
  6. Diversity Initiative. Create a "diversity on the water" initiative with joint actions that both promote more diversity within the industry and outreach and market to a more diverse audience.

Out of those conversations came more specific action plans to be pursued as the Growth Summit conversations move forward, in addition to the agreement to create a Leadership Council that will serve as the governing body of the Growth Summit's efforts. Information regarding the council and the specific action plans will be released in the coming weeks. If you are interested in participating in the conversation as it moves forward or if you have any questions or comments regarding the progress of the Growth Summit, please contact Matt Gruhn at 763-315-8043


Growth Summit Background
Back in December, leaders from every segment of the recreational boating industry gathered for an unprecedented event they called "The Industry Growth Summit." The mission was simple: to identify and address obstacles and opportunities for returning the boating industry to growth.

This first-of-its-kind summit was attended by nearly 160 industry executives from every corner of the boating industry, including the
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and a number of its board members. It was the largest and most diverse all-industry discussion ever assembled in the recreational boating industry, and the effort was facilitated by a third-party, the Consensus Center from the Florida State University.

A couple of important presentations were given at the outset of the Summit. They were important because they
both helped to shed light on the dramatic economic and socioeconomic shifts taking place in the United States that impact, or will impact, recreational boating growth. You can download those presentations here:
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. Download the Summit Survey Results here. Or download the Executive Summary of the Survey Results here. Out of the survey came four "vision statements" for the industry to work against during the Summit, including visions for our industry in 2021:
  1. Unified Industry Cross Sector Collaboration Brings Results — Boating Now the Preferred Recreational Choice
  2. Boating Participation Soars — New Generation, Highly Diverse, Family Friendly Lifestyle and Consumer Friendly
  3. Expanded Access to the Water and the Lifestyle Has Been Achieved
  4. Smarter and Fewer Regulations and Better Boating Education Results in Safe, Affordable and Enjoyable Boating
Over the course the two-day Summit, 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.
Over the weeks since the Summit, the facilitators compiled a report of action items and focus areas agreed upon by Summit participants that will act as a blueprint for the industry to work against. Those reports are viewable at the facilitators' website (
) or you can download them here:

A couple things happened as the industry moved forward and the MRAA played a role in the next steps from the Summit:

First, MRAA president Matt Gruhn has been appointed by the MRAA Executive Committee to serve as the MRAA's lead representative for a national coalition that will help to evaluate and develop implementation strategies for the highest-ranked recommendations from the Summit, which can be viewed in the two reports above or via the link in this sentence. Nancy Smith, vice president of Colorado Boat Center and a member of the MRAA Executive Committee will serve as MRAA's alternate representative.

Second, one of the top-10 joint action items that was recommended coming out of the Summit was for the industry to "expand American Boating Congress event to all boating segments, beyond manufacturers, and get support and attendance from all areas, with the idea being that if all industry sectors come together, Congress will listen more closely to the needs of the marine industry. With that recommendation in mind, the MRAA has decided to co-host ABC, to be held April 24-25 at The Liaison in Washington, D.C., and will hold a board meeting and a meeting of its Young Leaders Advisory Council, bringing nearly 40 dealership executives to this meeting. We encourage you, as a marine dealer and an industry stakeholder, to also attend ABC.

Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

Any questions, please call Matt Gruhn at 763-315-8043.

8401 73rd Avenue North, Suite 71, Minneapolis, MN 55428