NMMA Taps Emerging Markets for Boat OEMs

July 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is touting three emerging markets as potential areas of export for boatbuilders. As reported by Sounding Trades Only, the group is offering members a chance to visit and exhibit at several shows at a discount.

The NMMA is working closely with organizers of the new International Boat Show and Festival scheduled for Oct. 17-20 in Sanya, Hainan, China. The group is also spearheading a U.S. pavilion March 22-24, 2014, at the Cartagena Boat Show in Colombia.

Because the Korean government has loosened regulations on marine recreational activities and yacht use — now actively supporting growth of a recreational boating industry — the NMMA plans to return with an even larger North American presence June 12-15, 2014, at the Korea International Boat Show in Seoul, South Korea.

The group is also still supporting a U.S. presence in mature markets, offering members a chance to exhibit Nov. 19-21 at the Marine Equipment Trade Show in Amsterdam; Oct. 2-6 at the 52nd Genoa Boat Show in Italy; and May 22-25, 2014, at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in Queensland, Australia.


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NMMA Report Shows More Americans Boating

June 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

New data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) show 88 million Americans expected to take to U.S. waterways this summer.

According to a press release, NMMA reported that recreational boating in the U.S. has an annual economic value of $121 billion.  The industry’s rising tide supports 964,000 American jobs and 34,833 businesses, generates $40 billion in annual labor income and drives $83 billion in annual spending.

The NMMA, on behalf of the U.S. boating industry, released these findings as part of its annual U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, a collection of data and analysis on the state of the U.S. recreational boating industry.

Additional data highlights include:

New Boat Sales

• Retail sales of new power and sailboats increased 10.7% in 2012 to 163,245, demonstrating a post-recession recovery for the industry. (Note that this number includes inboard, outboard, sterndrive, jet and sail boats).

• New powerboat (inboard, outboard, sterndrive and jet boat) sales increased 10% to 157,300 in 2012.

• New sailboat sales increased 29.2% to 5,945 in 2012

“Summer is a peak selling season for recreational boats, accessories and services throughout the U.S. as people look for ways to disconnect from the daily grind and enjoy fun times on the water, “ said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “New boat sales have historically been a barometer for the U.S. economy and the steady sales increases we’re seeing is being reinforced by the slow uptick in consumer confidence, housing and spending. As economic growth continues, we anticipate sustained steady growth through the remainder of 2013.”

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Boating Conference Enjoys Rise in Attendance

May 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The 2013 American Boating Congress, which wrapped up May 9 in Washington, D.C., was a success for the recreational boating industry, according to a press release from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

The organization reported a 25% increase in attendance (from 160 to 200) and a 138% increase in co-hosts (from 13 to 31). Participants came from a cross-section of the industry, which organizers say is essential to the success of the event.

“I look at the boating industry as an ecosystem,” NMMA President Thom Dammrich said. “If bad legislation and regulation adversely affects one part of the industry, it harms the entire industry. We must continue to work together to gain ground on Capitol Hill.”

The increase in participants resulted in more than 250 meetings with members of Congress, up 34% from last year’s 187, each presenting a unified voice on broad industry concerns such as ethanol, dredging and access, as well as presenting participants’ own issues to their representatives.

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NMMA Releases 2012 Economic Impact Report

May 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is releasing updated economic impact data for the recreational boating industry during this week’s American Boating Congress in Washington, D.C. Soundings Trade Only reported that the update reflects 2012 data across the United States and has been formatted as an info-graphic, reflecting data in a visual way.

As the ABC starts and members of the recreational boating community prepare to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill, the NMMA said the updated information arms industry advocates with some of the most compelling data to date regarding the importance of boating.

In 2013, the NMMA’s Center of Knowledge contracted with the Recreational Marine Research Center at Michigan State University to update the 2008 Economic Value of Recreational Boating at the State and Congressional District Level. Each state and district data sheet includes the “total annual economic value of recreational boating,” the number of recreational boating industry businesses, total jobs and annual recreational boating-related spending.

Notable U.S. economic impact facts include:

• The recreational boating industry has a total economic impact of $121.5 billion in the United States annually.

• There are nearly 35,000 recreational boating-related businesses across the country, providing more than 338,000 jobs.

• Each year, Americans spend $51 billion related to the more than 12 million registered recreational boats in the country.

The full report, including U.S. data, as well as state and congressional district information, is available online for download.

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NMMA’s PR Program Bumps up Media Presence

January 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

There were 1,400 stories about boating and the boating lifestyle in media outlets last year prompted by the efforts of Discover Boating, the group said after its 2012 tally of press coverage.

Soundings Trade Only reported that the coverage provided an estimated 110 million media impressions, the group announced.

Just three weeks into 2013, the public relations team of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) — the group that manages the national Discover Boating campaign — had secured 381 positive news stories about the marine industry, the lifestyle and shows.

“Public relations has been a significant element of Discover Boating and NMMA marketing efforts because it allows us to tell the boating story through a variety of media and communicate directly with the public in a meaningful way,” NMMA vice president of marketing Ellen Hopkins told Soundings Trade Only in an e-mail.

Discover Boating had success pitching a variety of topics, from “Top 10 Boating Destinations” to “How to Get Started,” Hopkins said.

“One of the areas discussed at length during the Growth Summit was the need to improve the sharing of information, resources and successes across the broader industry,” Hopkins told Trade Only in an email.

“With Discover Boating and NMMA public relations specifically, there’s a lot of great work being done behind the scenes that sometimes only a board of directors knows about.”

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NMMA: Boating Industry Prospects Looking Up

October 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The state of the marine industry is looking up, with sales of boats and engines expected to be up 10% this year and another 10% in 2013, National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) president Thom Dammrich said at the industry breakfast that marked the opening of the 22nd Annual International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition and Conference.

“There’s a new spirit in the marketplace,” Dammrich told about 200 people at the Oct. 2-4 event in Louisville, Ky. “If you look at the data, there is a reason there’s a new spirit — because things are turning up, slowly turning up, slowing improving and that creates a more positive spirit.”

Soundings Trade Only reported that in 2011, sales of outboard engines and boats rose to $6.8 billion, Dammrich  said. “People are still buying boats — and even through the recession people were still buying boats,” he said. “People still have a very strong desire to get out on the water.”

Boating participation has been up in five of the last six years, and 82 million adult Americans went boating in 2011, Dammrich said. He cited a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey that showed fishing participation was up 11% during the last five years.

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NMMA Exec to Serve on Trade Advisory Panel

July 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) President Thom Dammrich has been appointed to the Industry Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) on Consumer Goods. reported that the ITAC is a part of the International Trade Administration; a government agency devoted to strengthening U.S, industries through trade, investments and support for the National Export Initiative. Dammrich will represent the recreational boating industry as part of a committee dedicated to promoting U.S. trade and exports.

The committee itself provides nonpartisan industry input toward positions on trade agreements. It supports the administration through detailed policy and technical advice, information, and recommendations regarding trade barriers, negotiation of trade agreements, and implementation of existing trade agreements affecting industry sectors.

The ITAC will meet about six times a year in Washington, DC. The members, all of whom come from the private sector, serve in a representative capacity presenting the views and interests of a US entity in their respective industry sectors.

As exports continue to gain importance within the recreational marine industry, NMMA recently launched a new Export Development program to respond to the growing needs of its members to explore opportunities in international markets. What’s more, NMMA has entered into a partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS) to create a formalized program that allows NMMA members improved access to international trade resources offered by the U.S. Federal Government.

Of his appointment, Thom Dammrich says, “I am honored to have been chosen to participate in this advisory body. Exports are an important part of the U.S. recreational boating industry and continue to help grow our members’ businesses during the economic recovery and bring American-made boats and marine products to boaters around the globe.”

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Boat Retailers Turning Inventory at Faster Pace

June 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Boat inventory is leaving showroom floors twice as fast today as it did a couple of years ago.

Sounding Trades Only reported that Bruce Van Wagoner, president of GE Capital’s commercial marine lending group, delivered that message during an address on the state of the marine industry via podcast last week with National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) president Thom Dammrich.

“That’s a very promising indicator,” Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of America, told Soundings Trade Only. “We’ve traditionally been known as a two-turn industry, but I think it’s really a little less than two turns, so for us to be up and over that, it means we’re managing our inventory better.”

Inventory more than a year old is at a historic low of 13%, compared with 47% at the recession’s peak, Van Wagoner said in the podcast.

The decision to buy a boat can still be impulsive if consumers see what they want, Dammrich pointed out. That’s why “dealers really need to make sure they have adequate inventory levels,” Van Wagoner said.

“The dealer’s risking losing a sale to a spontaneous buyer if what that person’s looking for is not in stock or if they don’t see a range of choices,” Van Wagoner said. Inventory is one-third less than it was at its peak, he said.

To read the entire article click here.

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NMMA is Asking Members to Support BoatPAC

June 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) President Thom Dammrich is asking members to raise $125,000 this year to get as much representation on Capitol Hill as possible through the political action committee.

“As you know, the boating industry faces significant legislative challenges that could negatively impact the boating industry — and your bottom line,” Dammrich said in a letter. “Recreational boating must support candidates who share our goals and are sympathetic to our positions. A strong BoatPAC is vital if we are to protect our industry against harmful legislation.”

Soundings Trade Only reported that the BoatPAC has already raised $59,000, Dammrich said in the letter.

Recreational boating had direct industry sales last year of more than $32 billion and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, Dammrich said.

“It is time to stop imagining and start executing,” Dammrich said. “Political visibility will be crucial in this upcoming election cycle. We ask you to join our campaign to grow the industry’s political strength in Washington, D.C., by supporting the National Marine Manufacturers Association BoatPAC.”

A variety of issues confront the industry today, including potential punitive tax measures on boating, the introduction of E15, an activist regulatory agenda, trade barriers in expanding markets, intellectual property protection and enforcement, small vessel security initiatives, punitive measures against wood importers and greenhouse gas regulations, Dammrich wrote.

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SoCal Marine Association Merging with NMMA

June 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The general membership of the Southern California Marine Association (SMCA) approved a merger of the regional trade group and boat show producer with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

According to The Log newspaper, Irvine, Calif., the move comes after months of discussions between the two organizations. The California group will cease to be a corporation, leaving its five California-based consumer boat shows in the hands of the Chicago-based NMMA.

The SCMA’s board met Tuesday to tally the membership’s vote. Ninety-three percent of members approved the merger.

J.R. Means, an SCMA board member and a Southern California yacht broker, told The Log that SCMA director Dave Geoffrey brought the merger idea to the board in January. Discussions followed with NMMA president Thom Dammrich and other representatives after the SCMA’s Los Angeles Boat Show. The final decision was left to SCMA members.

“The membership believes that with the strength of NMMA they will have a stronger organization — with more consumers coming to boat shows, more strength at boat shows and more money spent on growing boating in general,” Means said.

The hope is that by merging SCMA into a national organization, the group’s local boat shows and regional lobbying efforts will be boosted by the additional power and presence of NMMA, including additional event-producing expertise, more resources for local government lobbying and participation in nationwide boater promotions.

The future of the SCMA’s five boat shows remains in question. The group will decide which shows are viable. Marinafest in Marina del Rey, the Orange County Boat Festival in Newport Beach, the San Diego Yacht and Boat Show on Harbor Island and the Los Angeles Boat Show will continue as planned this year, Means said.

“The flagship, or crown jewel, is still the Los Angeles show,” Means said. “The NMMA is interested in making that back into the huge production that drew 40,000 to 50,000 people a year. That’s what they’re going to spend a lot of effort and energy on: creating a ‘Miami-esque’ show in Los Angeles again.”

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NMMA Study Reveals Beginning of a Recovery

May 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) today (May 17) announced that in 2011 U.S. retail sales for recreational boats, accessories and marine services increased 6% to $32.3 billion, new power and sail boat retail sales increased 0.8% to 214,405, and boating participation increased 10% to 83 million.

The recreational boating industry has not seen an increase in retail sales since 2006, and the jump in participation is the largest proportion of adults (34.8%) who went boating since 1997, when 35.8% participated.

Released today, the NMMA’s annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract is the U.S. recreational boating industry’s most comprehensive compilation of statistics and research. The new data signals the beginning of a recovery for the U.S. recreational boating industry.

“Pent-up demand for boats following years of diminished willingness to spend by consumers, improved credit availability for buyers and boating businesses, positive shifts in consumer confidence and an overall interest in the benefits of the boating lifestyle are steering the industry toward recovery,” notes Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Americans’ passion for enjoying the boating lifestyle is taking precedent as they put aside concerns about the economy in favor of creating lifelong memories with loved ones.”

Anticipating what 2012 will bring the NMMA Abstract points toward continued slow growth: A survey, in conjunction with Foresight Research, of 3,100 boaters and non-boaters from December 2011 shows an estimated 15.2% of the 237.7 million adults living in the U.S. are actively engaged in shopping/planning to purchase a boat in 2012. This is an increase from 10% in 2010.

Results included:

• Boating has an estimated annual economic impact of $72 billion.

• Eighty-three million Americans participated in boating in 2011, an increase of ten percent from 2010 (75 million) and the largest proportion of adults (34.8%) who went boating since 1997 (35.8%).

• Retail sales of boats, accessories and marine services increased six percent to $32.3 billion in 2011.

• Power and sail boat unit sales increased 0.8% to 214,405 in 2011 from 212,645 the previous year.

• An estimated 83% of boats sold in the U.S. in 2011 were made in the U.S.

• 83% of boat owners in the U.S. in 2011 had an annual household income less than $100,000.

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NMMA Says Attendance Up 7% at Chicago Show

January 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Total attendance for the Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show increased 7% despite slower days Thursday and Friday because of bad weather, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reported.

The NMMA said 35,402 people attended the event, which ran Jan. 12-16 at McCormick Place. The show switched its date pattern this year, moving from Wednesday-Sunday to Thursday-Monday to take advantage of the Martin Luther King holiday.

More than 500 boats were on display and more than 100 RVs were for sale. The NMMA said it is receiving reports from exhibitors that dozens of boats were sold at the show and heard good reports on the RV side as well.

“[We] talked to many people from not only all surrounding states, but as far away as Iowa. The buyer is back,” Duane Krueger, of Premier Pontoons, told the NMMA.

“We are excited to see the turnout that the Chicago Boat Show brought, and boat buyers are definitely shopping again,” added Betsy Arvai, of Skipper Buds. “Looking forward to the potential opportunities in the marketplace in 2012. We had a great selling show.”

The next shows up for the NMMA are the Progressive Insurance Baltimore Boat Show, the Progressive Insurance Kansas City Boat & Sportshow and the Progressive Insurance Minneapolis Boat Show, all of which start Thursday and run through Sunday.


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Boatbuilders Move Show to Kentucky Expo

September 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, Ky.

Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, Ky.

“New” is the operative word in describing this year’s 20th anniversary International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX), according to Soundings Trade Only.

New venue. New city. New aftermarket pavilion. New seminars. New events.

For the first time, IBEX moves out of South Florida and into the Midwest Sept. 28-30, taking over much of the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., longtime venue of the RVIA’s National RV Trade Show. The other major change this year is the MAATS Aftermarket Pavilion, which was added after the demise of the Marine Aftermarket Accessories Trade Show.

“I think we’ll have a good show,” says Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), which produces IBEX, along with Professional BoatBuilder magazine. “Will it be an all-time high? Probably not, because the industry is still in the doldrums a bit, but I think it will be better than last year.”

Schedule of Events

  • IBEX runs Tuesday, Sept. 28, through Thursday, Sept. 30.
  • IBEX All-Industry Breakfast: Tuesday, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Opening-night party: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., downtown at Fourth Street Live.
  • NMMA Using Market Intelligence for Market Growth: Wednesday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Exhibit Hall open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Exhibitors’ Workshops: Tuesday and Wednesday, 1-2 p.m.
  • Seminar hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30-10 a.m.; 3:30-5 p.m.; Thursday, 8:30-10 a.m.; 2:30-4 p.m.

Attendance at last year’s IBEX was down an estimated 31% from 2008, reflecting the challenging economic environment.

This year, even when there were months to go before the show opened, registrations, the number of exhibitors and the amount of exhibition space were up from 2009, Dammrich notes.

Carl Cramer, publisher of Professional BoatBuilder, says there’s a lot of excitement about the new location. Louisville, which boasts one of the largest convention venues in the country, offers less expensive hotels and restaurants than South Florida and is within a day’s driving distance of about half of the U.S. population, as well as a large number of boat manufacturers, Cramer notes.

The show has a contract to be in Louisville for at least three years.

“That’s not to say there aren’t some people who would prefer that we were going to be in South Florida, but we’re not going to be,” Cramer says, “We’re feeling good about where we are at the moment and can’t wait to get it open and get going.”

Larry Vandiver, director of marketing for exhibitor Suzuki, says the change in location is largely positive, providing new prospects for his company.

“We feel that the change in venue will give us an opportunity to see some Midwest builders in those areas that we haven’t seen in the past when it’s been in Florida,” he says. “At the same time, in talking to some of our Southern builders, they’ve already indicated to us they’re not going to make the trip up there. So we’re going to lose some and gain some.”

Tim Kent, marketing manager for Marinco Electrical Group, says everyone his company hopes to meet with has said they will be there.

“The people who normally go are going, even though there was a little bit of grousing last year because I think people like going to Miami,” he says. “What I think is going to happen is we’re going to see people that we don’t normally see, in addition to the people that we do normally see.”

As of mid-July, about 500 exhibitors had signed up for IBEX, which put it on par with the 2009 event with more than two months to go until the show opens, Cramer says. About 120 aftermarket companies will be at the show, Dammrich says, and about 45 to 50 of those are expected to be part of the MAATS pavilion, which is being sponsored by Soundings Trade Only.

“Louisville is in the heart of boatbuilding country, with about 80% of the boats built in this country being built within a 750-mile radius of Louisville,” Dammrich says. “We’re expecting a strong crowd, but particularly strong from the Midwest.”

MAATS Pavilion

With attendance at MAATS decreasing during the last few years, organizers decided that rolling it into IBEX as a component would be the best way to provide a venue for the aftermarket segment to exhibit its products.

In 2009, MAATS drew 211 exhibitors and 1,345 badge holders. That was down from 1,780 badge holders in 2008, according to the NMMA.

“To improve the efficiency of marine trade shows, the scope of IBEX needed to change,” Cramer previously said. “One trade event for OEM and aftermarket parts and accessories will create a more productive environment, reduce exhibitor costs and time and attract a broader base of attendees.”

Dammrich acknowledges that IBEX’s time frame may not be ideal for many former MAATS exhibitors, who were used to a mid-summer event.

“They may not be in the prime buying season for next year, but it’s an opportunity to make contacts, strengthen relationships, build new relationships and introduce products,” he says. “Today, with the Internet, people don’t rely solely on a twice-a-year catalog. If someone finds a new aftermarket product at IBEX, they can get it out immediately using the Internet.”

Another change that comes with the joining of MAATS and IBEX is that the National Marine Distributors Association’s S.T.E.P. purchasing event is no longer held in conjunction with MAATS. Instead, this year S.T.E.P. was held in late July outside Chicago. Nearly 300 people attended the four-day event and about 125 companies attended.

“We expect that there will be NMDA members both walking the show floor and exhibiting at IBEX, as they have done in the past. With our S.T.E.P. purchasing event just finishing, we are not sure how many distributors will actually be doing buying meetings as part of the MAATS pavilion,” says NMDA executive director Nancy Cueroni. “We have worked with the NMMA the past few months to make sure our members are aware of the availability of buyer/supplier meetings in Louisville.”

Amber McCrocklin, president of Paws Aboard, says her company used to exhibit at MAATS and will be a part of the MAATS pavilion at IBEX.

“It is important for us to attend the industry shows to allow us time to spend with current customers, as well as meeting new, future customers,” she says. “I certainly hope there will be higher attendance this year. From what I understand, they chose Louisville due to its proximity to the majority of the customer base.”

Doug Curtis, director of marketing for Dometic Marine, says the integration of the two shows is a positive step.

“It brings two segments of the industry together in one place at one time,” he says. “I am confident that IBEX in Louisville will provide a great platform from which to launch our innovative new product range to an industry that we feel is recovering.”

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Affinity & NMMA Partner in Chicago Show

August 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced today (Aug. 11) it is joining forces with Affinity Group Inc.’s (AGI) Affinity Events to produce the 81st Annual Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show in 2011 in order to strengthen the depth and breadth of the RV Pavilion at the largest outdoors show in the Midwest.

“We’re pleased to partner with Affinity Events and combine our strengths in the boating and recreational vehicle industries to produce an outstanding event for Midwestern outdoorsmen,”Ben Wold, executive vice president of NMMA, stated in a news release. “Our partnership will allow the 2011 show to offer the best of both industries and will contain significantly more boating and RV product, features, events and seminars than in recent years – becoming a must-attend for both outdoor industry companies and enthusiasts.”

Affinity Events has agreed to oversee all aspects of the Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show’s RV Pavilion, which will consist of more than 100,000 square feet of a number of RV models from the region’s leading RV dealers, plus exhibits of campground destinations, RV products and accessories. There will also be a variety of RV-related features, seminars and entertainment.

“We’ve worked with NMMA on several projects in the past, and we look forward to forging a strong partnership with this event,” said Steve Hedlund, president of Affinity Media & Events. “Our goal is two-fold. We intend to strengthen the value provided to RV enthusiasts in the Chicago area by leveraging our knowledge and media assets in order to bring more RVs, product, information and education to the show. Furthermore, we’ll help exhibitors connect with their target audiences by aggressively tapping into the marketing power of our affiliated companies including the Good Sam Club, MotorHome, Trailer Life and Camping Life magazines in order to bring qualified buyers to the show.”

Affinity Events,  a division of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), is the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events. The company currently produces 21 RV shows throughout the United States.

The 2011 Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show will take place Jan, 12 -16, 2011, at McCormick Place.

AGI is the parent company of

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Industry Upturn Evident at Kentucky RV Show

January 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

More than 30,000 people were expected to attend the 53rd Annual Louisville (Ky.) Boat, RV & Sportshow which ended  Sunday (Jan. 24) at the Kentucky Exposition Center, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

This year’s show seemed more packed than last year’s — in attendance and exhibits — as the economy appeared to be rebounding, said Keith Ammons, a spokesman for the show that’s hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

He said exhibitors gave buyers deals on new 2009 models that haven’t yet sold, and most people could get between 10% and 20% off.

“I don’t know if this means in the next month we’re going to have a great economy, but the turnaround has started,” he said.

Alan and Carol Schmitz agree.

The Worthington couple opened Salty Paws Marine & RV, which sells boat and RV accessories, in Fern Creek in August, Carol Schmitz said. Their booth at the show boasted a yellow 1975 Volkswagen camper bus, margarita glasses, deck chairs and “Parrothead” merchandise, along with the basic equipment needed by sport enthusiasts.

“We’ve gotten some friends who said, ‘We’re sure you’re crazy,’” Alan Schmitz said. “Other people said ‘good for you’ for doing what this economy needs.”

“We’re overwhelmed — in a good way,” Carol Schmitz said.

Exhibits included more than 300 boats and over 200 RVs.

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