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Statistical Surveys says boat sales up in 2015

Recent data suggests boat sales will continue to grow in 2015 and 2016, according to Tom Walworth, general manager at Statistical Surveys.

Sales in inboard-, jet- and outboard-powered boats are all up in a rolling 12-month period ending in March 2015. Overall, outboard sales are reporting double-digit growth with 10.08 percent. Jet boat sales are up 5.49 percent and inboard boats are up 2.46 percent.

Sterndrive boats continue to struggle in certain markets, reporting a 11.14 percent contraction.

Walworth says sterndrive boats are experiencing growth challenges because of pricing that has been imposed upon manufacturers with government regulations and other requirements, which has pushed the product to become higher in cost to the consumer.

However, he added that there are segments that are doing well with sterndrives. Markets such as Miami, Tampa, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Newark have seen double-digit growth in sterndrives.

“There are certain segments that are doing well but in general the stern market is soft right now,” said Walworth. “Those areas [with positive sterndrive growth] are probably prone to the bigger boats. The bigger sterndrives are doing better than the rest of the market.”

Statistical Surveys reviewed how these propulsion types compared from last year to this year, ranking by industry volume first, looking at percent of growth and selecting the top 10 cities.

“There are different regions of the country that are doing better than other regions of the country. But I think in general … we see a good market for the rest of 2015 and I think 2016 will probably follow,” Walworth said. “[A boat] is not an item that you need, it’s an item that you want. And I think the fact that these markets are moving in a positive direction shows that the economy is probably improving out there. … Barring some catastrophe, I think that the markets will continue to yield positive results.”


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Greg Krueger: Boating industry icon operated Marina City marina

(Above) Greg Krueger at the helm of a yacht on July 30, 2006. Photo by Mark Gaskill. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

7-May-15 – Greg Krueger died while working on his boat – an untimely death but perhaps fitting for someone who once said, “boating is not just my business, it’s my life.”

Krueger was owner and president of Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, which besides selling million-dollar yachts, operates the marina at Chicago’s Marina City.

Krueger suffered a heart attack while preparing a boat for launch on April 25. He was 67 years old.

In 2007, Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales signed a ten-year lease of the Marina City marina, in space that Skipper Bud’s had been leasing year-to-year.

“The economy tanked on us right when we took over,” recalled Krueger. “We were struggling like everybody, trying to figure out how we’re even going to survive. But we were not going to give up Chicago. I almost gave up my main store. But we made it through and survived. And we have a whole new business model structured right now.”

In 2012, the company started Chicago Electric Boat Company to rent small boats on the Chicago River. Shortly after it opened, Krueger estimated the venture would eventually earn $10-15 million per year.

Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales has invested more than $100,000 on the marina at Marina City.

Krueger, who had operated boats since age six, started his professional career at age 23 at Jefferson Beach Marina in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He had a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University and persuaded the university to create a special recreational boating curriculum for him and others destined for the boating business.

He washed boats, rented out houseboats, managed boatyards, and captained a ferry to Harsens Island across Lake St. Clair from Detroit. He also worked for a boat company owned by his grandparents.

In 1982, he started building consoles for boats. He founded American International and later sold the company to Genmar Industries, Inc.

“He was a profound man with a vibrant spirit,” said his daughter, Amy Malow, who works at her father’s company. “He deeply touched many, many people.”

(Above, left to right) Greg Krueger, president of Jefferson Beach Yacht Sales, his wife, Judy Krueger, who manages the company’s office in Charlevoix, Michigan, and Ron Silvia, in charge of the Chicago office and president of Chicago Electric Boat Company. In addition to his daughter, Amy, Krueger had a son, Erik, who is a boat and yacht broker for a competing company, Galati Yacht Sales.

Krueger was an inductee in Michigan Boating Industries Association’s Hall of Fame and considered an icon in the Great Lakes boating industry. He was on the MBIA board of directors for 25 years and served as board chairman from 1994 to 1995.

“He was a character, full of passion and positive attitude,” said MBIA executive director Nicki Polan. “He was fun, kind, and genuinely cared about people. He actually got up on the table at the board meeting to show his enthusiasm for giving back to education and this was the start of our education foundation.”

“He was the consummate gentleman and professional,” said Nick Bischoff, vice president of sales and marketing at Sunseeker Yachts. “Always outspoken, he made all his builders better by speaking up about the issues he faced as a dealer. We had no choice but to listen. We loved his enthusiasm for the business.”

A memorial service is scheduled for Friday at Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.

 Related story: Yacht broker branches out to tiny electric boats

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