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Boat dealers are expanding as boat sales increase in Michigan

Wednesday, September 5, 2018   (0 Comments)

Boat, motor, trailer and accessory sales in Michigan, and across the country, are at an all-time high, with more than $981 million spent in Michigan and $39 billion spent across the country. An increase of 12% in Michigan and 6.5% in the U.S. over sales in 2016, according to statistics recently released by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).


“There are a few factors we attribute to the growth of the industry,” said MBIA Executive Director and Show Manager Nicki Polan. “Pent up demand from the recession, millennials are starting to buy, consumer confidence remains high, gas prices remain low, interest rates are low – it’s a perfect storm!”

Responding to the demand of sales and service activity increasing, local dealers are expanding and adding new locations. Wilson Marine, with headquarters in Brighton, Mich., now has seven locations. Adding its latest in Wixom, Mich. off I-96 with more than 33,000 sq. ft. for a showroom and 9 acres to hold plenty of inventory for the dealer.


“It is great to see the industry rebounding after lows experienced in 2008-10. All facets of boating seem to be increasing,” said Debi Schroeder, controller at Wilson Marine. “While for years it has been primarily a pontoon market we have recently, in the last 18 months, seen an increase in the other segments, such as fishing and fiberglass sport boats/cruisers.”


SkipperBud’s, headquartered in Illinois, is another dealer that has recently added another new location that is a full-service complete marine complex in Waterford, totaling six locations in Michigan and eighteen throughout the Midwest.

“There are two lifestyles that are fueling and bringing growth to the industry, at least locally – the popularity of wake surfing, and the progression of horsepower and luxury in the pontoon world (tri-toons),” said Sales Manager at SkipperBud’s Cass Lake Marina Chris Somers.

“We are also finally seeing growth in fiberglass runabouts and larger fiberglass bowriders that did not rebound as quick after the great slowdown era of 2008-2012,” said Somers. “Day boating on Lake St. Clair and the Great Lakes has been a continued growth area I don’t see slowing any time soon.”


As larger boats sales increase, Grand Pointe Marina, headquartered in Lansing on the Grand River, also added a third location in Harrison Township within the last year to be able to demo boats on Lake St. Clair.


“I think it is our industry’s goal and duty to get younger families continually involved in boating,” said Chris Steven, general manager of Grand Pointe Marina. “Time and discretionary income are the largest hindrance. Making boating easy, fun, and relaxing is the key for customer retention and the invitation to new boaters.”


Campaigns by MBIA in Michigan and associations across the country promote boating to a more diverse and younger demographic, citing the affordability and benefits of boating with friends and families.


Nearly one million boats are registered with the Secretary of State in Michigan. Plus, 650,000 legally non-registered boats, including non-motorized canoes and kayaks. The Great Lakes region accounts for 27.3 percent of boats registered in 2017. With the most boats per capita, one registered boat for every 6.2 households, according to the NMMA.


While the growth seen by the industry is tremendous, dealers are watchful. “I think we will continue to have growth in the near outlook, but I put caution on the habits formed in the past few years as we are preparing for a future that may not include 20-30% spikes annually,” said Stevens.


“Boating is such a great form of recreation for everyone in the family and we hope that the economic conditions stay on the same track as it has been for the last five to six years,” said Wilson Marine’s Schroeder. “All that being said, we are keeping a close watch on our financial indicators to ensure that we are able to react to a slow down as many of the industry experts predict.”


The Metro Boat Show, the largest fall outdoor boat show in Michigan is coming September 13-16 to the Lake St. Clair Metropark. See hundreds of new and pre-owned boats of all shapes and sizes in water and on land. The show features accessories, marinas, storage, dockage, and much more. Features include live music, food trucks, beer tents, kids zone and more!


The Metro Boat Show is produced by the Michigan Boating Industries Association (MBIA). The Show, located at Lake St. Clair Metropark, will be held September 13-16. Hours: Thurs., Fri.: Noon – 7:30PM, Sat.: 11AM – 7:30PM and Sun.: 11AM – 6 PM. For more information, current promotions and contest information, visit Metroboatshow.net. Admission: $10 for adults, children 12 and under free with an adult.  Parking is $10 – or free to those with a Metroparks permit. General park information can be found at metroparks.com. 

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Michigan Boating Industries Association | 32398 Five Mile Road Livonia, MI 48154 | Phone: 734.261.0123 | Fax: 734.261.0880

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