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$1 million Georgia boat-sales fraud scheme alleged | www.ajc.com

A former boat salesman in the Lake Lanier area illegally kept almost $1 million from several houseboat sales, according to a media report.

Timothy Paul Schwan, 42, of Cartersville, sold the houseboats and kept the proceeds or wrote bad checks to the previous owners after the sales, the Gainesville Times reported.

Schwan was booked Monday into the Hall County jail, according to the report. Charges were seven counts of theft by conversion, two counts of theft by deception and two counts of department account fraud.

Authorities began investigating Schwan in June, when he worked at a boat-sales company in Buford, the Times reported.

In one instance, Schwan took possession of a houseboat valued at about $240,000, with an agreement to buy or sell the boat for the owner, the paper reported. He sold the boat for $280,000 and allegedly wrote the previous owner a bad check for $240,156.

Read more of the story here.


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Man accused of making about $1 million in boat sale scheme

A Cartersville man is accused of writing bad checks and keeping almost $1 million in proceeds from boat sales in Hall County, according to authorities.

He was booked Monday in to the Hall County Jail, where he remains.

Authorities said they began investigating Schwan in June, as he worked at Holiday Boat Sales in Buford.

In April 2015, Schwan allegedly took possession of a houseboat worth $193,000 “with the agreement to buy or sell the boat for the legal owner,” Hall County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Ware wrote in a news release.

“Schwan sold the boat to a third party for $310,000 and kept the proceeds,” Ware wrote.

Schwan is accused of doing the same with another houseboat worth $119,000 in August 2015, selling it to a third party for $117,500 and keeping the proceeds.

After selling a $285,000 houseboat in November 2015 at that price, Schwan allegedly wrote a check to the owner for that amount that later bounced.

Ware wrote that Schwan allegedly kept the proceeds after the sale of another boat in November 2015.

“Lastly, on or about March 21, 2016, Schwan took possession of a Starlite houseboat valued at approximately $240,000, with the agreement to buy or sale the boat for the legal owner,” Ware wrote. “Schwan sold the boat for $280,000 to a third party and wrote the lawful owner a bad check in the amount of $240,156.”

Ware said investigators are still trying to identify other victims.

Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator Doug Matthews at 770-533-7683.


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Canadian boat makers ride wave of lower loonie – The Globe and Mail

Recreational watercraft are subject to the swings of the economy – both here and in the United States

When Princecraft Boats Inc. used to send reps to Alberta boat shows, people would roll up with a truck and fifth-wheel trailer just to measure their wares.

“Price was not an issue,” says Jean-Philippe Martin-Dubois, director of marketing, research and development at the Princeville, Que.-based company, which builds aluminum fishing and pontoon boats. “They were just measuring to make sure the length of the truck, the trailer and the boat was OK with the law.”

Alberta used to be one of Princecraft’s biggest markets. Then the oil downturn happened; as thousands of jobs disappeared, watercraft became a frill. So the brand turned to another market that had once let it down: the United States.

A recreational boat is no cheap toy, and their manufacturers – at least those who survived the recession less than a decade ago – are all too familiar with steering through the rough waters of a bad economy. Canadian boat makers are now using the low local dollar to entice consumers on both sides of the border to buy their wares at massive discounts compared to American competitors.

Before the recession, “the U.S. market was a good market for us,” Mr. Martin-Dubois says. Princecraft’s annual sales to America plummeted to one-twentieth their pre-recession number.

Now, Mr. Martin-Dubois says, it’s looking good again. “We’re getting requests from different dealers in the U.S. that are looking to have a boat made out of aluminum. They look at Canada and say ‘Hey, we’re gonna save money by selling those products.’” (While Princecraft was bought by recreation-focused U.S. manufacturer Brunswick Corp. in 2001, the brand is still made in Quebec.)

The majority of boats sold in Canada are U.S.-made, says Sara Anghel, executive director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) Canada. During the slow climb out of the recession, from 2009 to 2015, total personal watercraft sales (such as jet skis and Sea-Doos) at Canadian dealerships rose 29 per cent, according to NMMA figures. Pontoon boat sales rose 51 per cent in the same period.

There are about 376 boat manufacturers in Canada, and 110 accessory manufacturers, according to NMMA. Total sales are down the last two years, but the total value of the sales is up because the exchange rate has been pushing up prices, Ms. Anghel says.

While Canadian boat dealers have been negatively affected, Canadian manufacturers gained an advantage with the dollar: “They have an edge competing against U.S. product,” she says.

Campion Marine Inc., an independent Canadian fibreglass power-boat builder, also survived the recession. Campion’s output has doubled since the downturn, but hasn’t made up for the 80-per-cent drop it first brought.

“I used to have 185 employees,” says its president, Brock Elliott, by phone from his Kelowna, B.C. headquarters. “We went down to 42; today we are 65. You can see we have a long ways to go.”

For the last two years, at least, Campion has seen double-digit sales growth – thanks in no small part to the U.S. exchange rate. (As of publication, the Canadian dollar was worth 77 cents U.S., after 13-year lows earlier this year.)

“Canadians are no longer running across the border to buy American boats,” Mr. Elliott says, and it brings his company a significant advantage: “We are building a high-quality product that can compete with any of the American products, but we’re offering it at a better deal by selling it in Canadian dollars.”

Connor Industries, which manufactures aluminum Stanley Boats in Parry Sound, Ont., has seen similar benefits. Owner Bill Connor says that at the Toronto International Boat Show earlier this year – an annual bellwether for the industry’s sales – his colleagues were concerned about currency issues.

But, he says, his company has had a great year. “We can still play within our Canadian dollar without being hit with a huge increase,” Mr. Connor says.

On the export side, things are a little slower. After three consecutive years of growth, Canada exported $353-million in recreational boats in 2014, the last full year of available measurements. That is down 15 per cent from 2013, according to figures collected by the federal government and provided to The Globe and Mail by NMMA.

Mr. Elliott says his company is looking to enter many new U.S. markets, since his products are already available widely in Canada. He is seeing positive indicators of growth, but it is “spotty”: The Puget Sound, Wash., dealership he works with sold out of products earlier than expected this season, but California remains “very disappointing.”

Campion, however, has acquired numerous other manufacturers, including U.S. ones – some of which were on the verge of bankruptcy after the recession – and now has more than 50 models to offer to dealers. This, he hopes, will bolster his American expansion. “We’re diversified, so when somebody is shopping for a boat, there’s a good chance that Campion will offer it,” Mr. Elliott says.

The currency difference goes two ways: Many parts and raw materials, such as aluminum, vinyl and glass, are imported to Canada from the United States, or are sold in U.S. dollars. Even if boat-builders buy windshields from a Canadian manufacturer, for example, the U.S. material cost can raise the price.

“The trick is to get your U.S. sales to offset your U.S. payables,” Mr. Elliott says, “and then you’ve got a natural hedge.”

This has encouraged companies such as Princecraft to expand their U.S. sales force, in order to offset those costs, too. “I expect that for the next three, four, five years, we should grow,” Mr. Martin-Dubois says. He expects American sales to double for the next couple of years, or longer. “Even if the market is shrinking here, the market in the U.S. is still growing; we’ll become a bigger company.”



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Analyst: Ski and wakeboat sales outpace market

Posted on August 24th, 2016

Wells Fargo said today that boat sales in the ski and wake segment are outperforming the broader powerboat industry, according to Statistical Surveys data, a trend the bank’s analysts attribute to the pace of builder innovation and share gains from other segments, such as sterndrives.

Statistical Surveys reported that ski and wake boat sales were up 7.6 percent through July, compared with a 3.7 percent gain in the industry’s main powerboat segments.

Wells Fargo analysts said in a research note that they believe Malibu Boats and MasterCraft Boats are continuing to consolidate ski and wake boat share from smaller competitors in the segment.

Wells Fargo said its core industry outlook is for a 6 percent growth in overall sales for the full year and a 9 percent gain in the ski-and-wake category.


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State Dept. approves $124M sale of boats, weapons to Qatar – UPI …

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) – The U.S. Department of State approved the proposed $124 million sale of Mark V fast patrol boats, weapons, ammunition and training to Qatar.

Qatar’s government requested Mark V fast patrol boats, eight .50-caliber machine guns, MLG 27mm naval gun systems, as well as ammunition. Forward-looking infrared systems, support equipment, personnel training and other services were also requested.

The Defense Cooperation Security Agency, which oversees the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, sent required notification to Congress on Friday, according to a statement.

The principal contractor for the sale will be United States Marine Incorporated in Mississippi.

“Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips by U.S. government and contractor representatives to participate in program and technical reviews, system integration, as well as training and maintenance support in country for a period of five years,” the agency said.

The Mark V is a medium-range transport and patrol boat used by U.S. Special Operations Forces for insertion and extraction of SEAL combat swimmers as well as coastal patrol.


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State Dept. approves $124M patrol boat, weapons sale to Qatar

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) – The U.S. Department of State approved the proposed $124 million sale of Mark V fast patrol boats, weapons, ammunition and training to Qatar.

Qatar’s government requested Mark V fast patrol boats, eight .50-caliber machine guns, MLG 27mm naval gun systems, as well as ammunition. Forward-looking infrared systems, support equipment, personnel training and other services were also requested.

The Defense Cooperation Security Agency, which oversees the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, sent required notification to Congress on Friday, according to a statement.

The principal contractor for the sale will be United States Marine Incorporated in Mississippi.

“Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips by U.S. government and contractor representatives to participate in program and technical reviews, system integration, as well as training and maintenance support in country for a period of five years,” the agency said.

The Mark V is a medium-range transport and patrol boat used by U.S. Special Operations Forces for insertion and extraction of SEAL combat swimmers as well as coastal patrol.


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Boat sales growth slows significantly in July bellwether report

Boat sales slowed across all categories in July, according to the latest Info-Link Bellwether report.

The Bellwether report tracks sales of powerboats across the country based on new U.S. boat registrations on a rolling 12-month basis. Bellwether states are geographically dispersed states representing roughly half of the US boat market (varies by market segment and time of year).

While sales are still up for the previous 12 months, the rate of growth was much lower than the 12 months ending in June. Overall, sales were up about 7 percent in on a rolling 12-month basis through July, compared to almost 10 percent last month.

The ski boat segment showed the strongest results in July, with sales up about 15 percent for the 12-month period, down only slightly from June’s report.

PWC sales, which were up by more than 15 percent in the previous report, were up just more than 10 percent for the 12 months ending in July. The sportfish segment was up about 8 percent for the 12 months ending in July, compared with about 10 percent growth for the period ending in June.

Outboard sales were up about 7 percent, compared with nearly 10 percent growth in June’s report. Sterndrive/jet sales, which were up about 7 percent in the June report, dropped below 5 percent growth for the 12 months ending in July.


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Boat sales drop in July

Posted on August 17th, 2016 Written by Jack Atzinger

Click to enlarge.

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Recreational boating weathered a rough July as sales fell across most major industry categories.

Even the normally reliable aluminum fishing and outboard fiberglass segments struggled as sales fell 7 percent in the main powerboat segments to 12,459 boats and 5.7 percent industrywide to 23,296, from the same month last year in 28 early-reporting states that represent about 64 percent of the U.S. market, Statistical Surveys said today.

Down in January, but up in February and especially in March — when sales rose 20 percent industrywide in the early-reporting states — the industry followed those performances with flat sales in April, marginally better results in May and a strong June ahead of July’s disappointing numbers.

Florida led the nation in July, as it does during most months, but the 3,176 boats sold there were 368 fewer than the 3,544 recorded in the same month last year. Texas was second at 3,036, down 553 from 3,589 in 2015.

Sales were higher in Michigan, the third-ranking state at 2,466, up 155 from 2,311, but they were lower in New York, (1,509, down 62 from 1,571). California, the fifth-ranked state, had higher sales — 1,366, up 167 from 1,199.

Completing the top 10 were North Carolina (1,355, down from 1,423); Tennessee  (1,194, up from 945), South Carolina, (1,158, down from 1,319); Alabama (995, up from 985); and New Jersey (896, up from 794).

Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said it was difficult to pinpoint a reason sales have been so choppy, but a longer selling season could have been a factor.

“The selling season started earlier this year,” he said, causing more sales to be recorded in the late winter and early spring than usual.

“Florida had phenomenal sales growth all of last year,” he added. “You can’t be up by double digits every month.”

Kloppe does not believe the July results indicate the industry is headed for a slump.

“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” he said. “We’re on pace for a positive sales year.”

Through July, sales in the main segments are up 3.7 percent in the early-reporting states at 109,719 and up 3.5 percent industrywide at 169,157. Those figures are down from a pace of 6.3 percent growth in the main segments and 5.7 percent industrywide through June.

Timothy Conder, a senior analyst at Wells Fargo, said in a note after the results were released that he believes “the industry fundamentals remain solidly intact,” including consumers’ willingness and ability to buy boats.

Conder, who previously said he was expecting “flattish” July sales, said the July results do not suggest “a broad industry rollover” because the decline was broad-based and historically small boats lead significant upward and downward turns. Conder said small-boat sales were up 9.5 percent in June.

Conder also took note of sales declines in key states Florida, Texas and New York, saying Florida and Texas had “difficult comparisons” with the sales they recorded in July of last year. Many lakes reopened in Texas this year after a multi-year drought and rains in May and June refilled them, stimulating boat sales in those months, he said.

Conder said the decline in New York sales could be attributable to a lack of inventory, and he noted that July through mid-August is the seasonal trough in inventory for the industry.

All of the industry’s high-volume categories had poorer results in July, although sales in the aluminum pontoon segment were nearly flat, falling by just 22, or 0.5 percent, to 4,122. Sales of aluminum fishing boats fell 14 percent to 2,348 and sales of fiberglass outboards dropped 6.6 percent to 3,992.

Sales of personal watercraft dropped 3 percent to 8,443.

Jetboat sales were precisely flat at 570 and sales of ski and wake boats were virtually flat, rising by one to 783.

Sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive boats, which have struggled since the Great Recession ended but have showed signs of a comeback in recent months, fell 18.1 percent to 1,042.

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by seven to 107. Sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts fell by 16 to 51, but sales of 66-foot and larger semicustom and custom yachts rose by three to 14.

Sailboat sales fell by 51, or 21.6 percent, to 185.


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