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62nd Annual Progressive Detroit Boat Show Reports Solid Sales and Quality Attendees

Tuesday, February 4, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Lessway

Detroit, Mich., February 4, 2020 – More than 54,500 people enjoyed the 62nd Annual Progressive Detroit Boat Show which ran January 18 – 26, 2020 at the newly named TCF Center (previously Cobo Center). The show was held four weeks earlier in 2020. The January dates became available when the North America International Auto Show moved to June. “Hosting the show in January helps Michigan boat buyers get their boats into the manufacturers’ production schedule earlier, helping assure these boats are delivered in time for spring launch. January manufacturer and dealer incentives are also typically the best of the year, which helps lower the pricing, and the new January dates also give dealers a jump on the selling season,” said Show Director Nicki Polan.

The show again filled three halls at TCF Center, and at nearly 500,000 sq. feet, was packed wall-to-wall with nearly 700 boats from 10 – 46 feet in length. “As usual, our exhibitors made us proud. More than 100 exhibitors brought in 72 new model introductions, the latest in design and technology, docks, gear, services, electronics and more for our Great Lakes market,” said Polan. “What resulted was an impressive and professional marketplace of all things boating and the opportunity to highlight the benefits of the boating lifestyle to a new audience.”


The Progressive Detroit Boat Show is considered among the top shows in the country based on size, attendance and sales. Comments from many exhibitors indicated they experienced solid sales and gathered quality leads during their 9 days at TCF Center. Studies have shown some dealers can attribute 30 to 50 percent of their annual sales to the sales and leads generated at the Progressive Detroit Boat Show.


“We exceeded our sales goal by 50 percent at this year’s show and our post-show follow up has been solid,” said Tom Ervin, president of Walstrom Marine in Harbor Springs, Mich.


 “We had a record show and are excited to be able to kick off the season a month earlier,” said Colony Marine President Pete Beauregard.


“Boating enthusiasm is alive and well in Michigan,” said Patti Smith, vice president of sales & operations at Silver Spray Sports and MBIA Immediate Past Chair. “We are blessed to be in our 10th consecutive growth year and to have a show full of people looking forward to the summer.”


“Comparing January to January sales from last year, we are way ahead of the curve,” said MBIA Director Rob Davis, owner of Club Royale. “And now we have an additional 4 weeks to follow up on our leads.”


My message comes to you from more than just a “sales aspect” as I have the pleasure of being at your show for the set up and take down as well.  I thought that the move in and out processes were as smooth as I’ve seen them, the union members were as friendly as I have ever seen, overall cleanliness of the facility, the aisle carpet, and on top of that, real actual qualified buyer numbers in attendance were high!” said Joel Shoemaker, General Manager Walstrom Marine.


“I’m excited to be ahead of the game instead of the one of the last shows in the country,” said Mike Raguso, owner of Lakeside Formula. ”When ordering a custom boat, getting the order into production early is important for our customers, especially in Michigan with our shortened boating season.”


Attendance was down 22 percent from 2019 due to the first weekend snowstorm and a host of other potential factors. While some exhibitors had record sales, others reported decreased sales comparing show to show, not January to January. “Date changes can be challenging even when they are better dates for consumers purchasing boats. We’ve been told it can take a year or two to re-set the mindset in a market,” said Polan. “It is impossible to compare apples-to-apples this first year. We have the Progressive Novi Boat Show coming in March and we will need to circle back and compare the entire winter show selling season.”


2019 was the tenth consecutive growth year for new boat, engines, trailer and accessory sales nationwide, and in Michigan, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. In 2018, more than $1 billion in new boats, motors, trailers and accessories were sold in Michigan, making it the 3rd largest marine market in the country behind Florida and Texas. Sales of new boats, motors, trailers and accessories are expected to rise again in 2020.  


Next year’s Progressive Detroit Boat Show will be January 16 – 24, 2021 at TCF Center in Detroit, Mich. The Progressive Detroit Boat Show is produced by the Michigan Boating Industries Association, a state-wide marine trade association representing Michigan’s $7.8 billion boating industry. All proceeds from MBIA produced boat shows go back to the boating industry through boating programs and services. For more information on the Progressive Detroit Boat Show, go to detroitboatshow.net.  For more information about MBIA go to www.mbia.org.

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