A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Our voices must be heard

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is still working on its lineup of speakers for the American Boating Congress in May, but at this early stage this much is known: The 2009 ABC will be an abbreviated one.

That seems to be a common thread at industry events and boat shows these days. Show producers have cut back on the dates and the parties, while exhibitors are scaling back on the size of their displays and the number of people they bring to staff it. “Doing more with less” is the mantra of the day.

It reminds me of a budgeting rule of thumb I heard years ago from a small-town elected official: There are things we must do, things we should do, and things that are nice to do. In a tough economy, the nice-to-do list is the first to go.

This year’s ABC has been shortened from three days to two, and there’s no gala dinner with a private performance from the Capital Steps. Gone are the private Washington, D.C., tours for NMMA members, spouses and the press. I’ll admit, I have fond memories of those special tours of the Capitol, Supreme Court, and the various press rooms and news studios.

Those were all nice benefits of the annual D.C. trip, though not the main purpose of the event, of course. And despite the tough business climate and tightening budgets, staying in the game is still on the list of must-dos. Dealers and manufacturers may be scaling back on boat show displays, but the savvy ones realize they still must have a presence.

The same is true for the American Boating Congress. Change is in the air in our nation’s capital, and turmoil is everywhere as the global economic mess drags on. Marine businesses need to make sure their voices are heard amongst the other constituents vying for a piece of the stimulus pie. And we need to remain vigilant and make sure no one tries to sneak in a luxury tax or other anti-business policy in the name of closing budget shortfalls.

Our voices are more likely to be heard and remembered if the message is delivered in person.

— Melanie Winters
Associate editor


2 comments on “Our voices must be heard

  1. Carlm

    Melanie: Sorry to hear there won’t be those perky “Special Tours” of the capital, etc. & the gala dinner, paid for with fees & dues from the boat, motor, and accessory manufacturers was cancelled.
    Dealers and manufactures are closing & going out of business not just scaling back.
    Please realize that when a manufacturer does not open after a Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday & it’s March – they are pretty much done & gone. These companies were living entities set up & run on cash flow. When the flow stopped coming in, as it has, & boats on repurchase agreements also started showing back up at the back door it is pretty much over. The the flow of money to the suppliers has turned into indebtness to the unsecured creditor- previously known as suppliers. This then domino’s down the supply chain.

    That said I can not believe any congress person is seriously going to entertain direct monetary assist (a piece of the pie as you describe) to the dealers & manufacturers of the marine segment of the recreational industy. What the ABC needs to focus on is stopping those in Washington from putting more fee’s, taxes, & regulations on recreational products & activities (ie launch fee’s, boat user fee’s, radio fee’s, luxury taxes, access to water fee’s, speed limits, fishing limits, and other costly regulations affecting those of us who may servive these uncharted economic waters the world is in.

  2. don

    well i would think ..after watching the “attendence” of the likes of the big 3 auto makers…and their impression….and the bankers…and theirs… and the many other… gimme-a-break corps… to send the same “suits” to washington is not helping… send some real dealers/manufacturers that are failing or have failed… let them present the case from their hearts… not from the people that in alot of cases were the cause/abettors of our industry collapse. and if anyone thinks that the NMMA and MRAA speaks soley for this industry… then… perhaps… the earth really is flat in their minds… which would be an improvement at least for where the industry might get to someday with the current “gurus” and “captains” of the once good ship lollypop but now renamed to lollynot

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