Archive for » May 26th, 2017«

U.S. Boat Sales Continue to Rise

According to new data from the 2016 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reports that the $36 billion U.S. boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade.

Unit sales of new powerboats increased six percent in 2016, reaching 247,800 boats sold, and are expected to increase an additional six percent in 2017 – a trajectory NMMA anticipates to continue through 2018.

“Economic factors, including an improving housing market, higher employment, strong consumer confidence, and growing disposable income, are creating a golden age for the country’s recreational boating industry,” notes Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA. “Summer is a busy selling season for our industry, and we expect steady growth to continue across most boat categories through 2017—and into 2018—to keep up with the acceleration in demand for new boats.”

Demand continues to grow across nearly all powerboat segments. Outboard boat sales, which represent 85 percent of new traditional powerboats sold, and include pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, as well as small fiberglass cruising boats, were up 6.1 percent in 2016 to 160,900 units.

Sales of new ski and wakeboard boats, used for popular watersports such as wakesurfing and wakeboarding, saw a double-digit increase, up 11.5 percent to 8,700 boats. New personal watercraft sales, often considered a gateway to boat ownership, rose 7.3 percent to 59,000 craft, and jet boats, smaller fiberglass boats that use jet engine technology to propel the boat, saw a sales increase of 8.7 percent to 5,000 boats.

Sales of yachts (33’ and higher) saw gains of 3.5 percent, reaching a seven-year high of 1,715 units in 2016.

“One of the standout areas of growth in 2016 was among yachts—a category that has been slower to rebound as high net worth individuals looked to remain more liquid post-recession,” notes Dammrich. “Additional trends driving economic growth for the industry include the creation of more affordable, versatile boats manufactured to appeal to a new generation of boaters, more intuitive marine technology making it easier to get on the water and operate a boat, and an emphasis on shared experiences with the introduction of more boat rental and shared boat ownership apps as well as boat clubs that offer access to boats as part of a membership fee.”

U.S. Recreational Boating by the Numbers (Source: NMMA’s 2016 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract)
• Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services totaled $36 billion in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2015.
• There were approximately 247,800 new power boats sold in 2016, and increase of six percent from 2015.
• The recreational boating industry in the U.S. has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion (includes direct, indirect and induced spending), supporting 650,000 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 small businesses.
• Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2016 were the following states:
— Florida: $2.5 billion, up five percent from 2015
— Texas: $1.4 billion, up five percent from 2015
— Michigan: $868 million, up nine percent from 2015
— Minnesota: $710 million, up nine percent from 2015
— North Carolina: $689 million, up eleven percent from 2015
— New York: $688 million, up 14 percent from 2015
— Wisconsin: $622 million, up nine percent from 2015
— California: $615 million, up 15 percent from 2015
— Georgia: $551 million, up eleven percent from 2015
— South Carolina: $544 million, up ten percent from 2015
• It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; there were an estimated 981,600 pre-owned boats (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) sold in 2016, totaling $9.2 billion in sales, an increase of two percent from 2015.
• There are an estimated 12.1 million registered/documented boats in the U.S. in 2015.
• Ninety-five percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) in the U.S. are small in size, measuring less than 26 feet in length—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.
• Sailboat sales rebounded in 2016 with 6,500 sailboats sold, an increase in unit sales of 16.1 percent over 2015 driven by a 23.4 percent increase in the ‘20 ft. or less’ category.
• Boating is predominantly “middle-class” with 72 percent of boat owners having a household income less than $100,000.

NMMA will continue to release its 2016 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract data by section throughout the summer. For more information, to access current Abstract sections,and pre-order the complete 2016 Abstract, visit www.NMMA.org’s new Statistics section.


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Georgia Watersports offers parts, sales, repairs and service – The Union

After nearly a decade in the marine and watersports industry, John Goldberg has seen a lot.

As the early season heat draws its yearly influx of people to the Lake Country, Goldberg will begin his 10th summer in the marine sales and repair industry, and his customer flow shows no signs of slowing down until early fall.

At Georgia Watersports, the North Columbia Street retail and repair shop that he manages year-round, he and his six employees are preparing for what might be the shop’s busiest year to date.

“I would say that most of our clients are regular customers,” said Goldberg from the shop’s main warehouse. “You can’t please everybody, but most of our customers are recurring, and we’ve had some customers basically from when we opened. Every year we’ll get a couple new people coming in wanting their boats fixed, and [even if] it’s because everybody else is backed up and we’ll be the earliest to get to their boat, most of the time they come back and are satisfied with the job.”

Although Georgia Watersports looks much like a Lake Country boat dealer might be expected to look, the company and its origins are fairly unique. When Goldberg’s brother-in-law, Nathan Collins, was laid off from the former Brown and Williamson tobacco factory in Macon, the company gave him a severance package with a stipend for professional training. After using the money for a class at Central Georgia Technical College in Milledgeville, Collins decided he wanted to enter the marine business and started the Georgia Watersports. Now in its fourth year on North Columbia Street after seven years on U.S. 129, the shop offers a wide selection of parts, repairs and retail sales.

“We do part sales, boat repair, work on Honda and Yamaha outboards, and we’re a Honda and a Yamaha dealer,” said Goldberg. “We also sell johnboats, watersports equipment, and stuff like that. I would say that the parts sales is the biggest part of our business, but every part of our business has been growing year by year at this location. At our other location, we were a little [farther] away from the water with a much smaller store, and being on 441 has really helped us out, but word-of-mouth is our main way to get our business around.”

If moving the shop to 441 just a few hundred yards from Lake Sinclair has helped Georgia Watersports out, its location is not the only thing that draws customers in. Nearly every foot of the shop’s warehouse is stacked high with various parts and equipment, and Goldberg said the shop’s vast selection sets the business apart from others of its kind (he and Collins also operate partspak.com from the warehouse, an online supplier that ships everything from boat parts to snowmobile catalogs). Although the shop is only certified to deal and fix Honda and Yamaha equipment in-house, they can quickly order parts for any make and model, and Goldberg and his staff pride themselves on their friendliness and knowledge of marine equipment.

“I feel like we treat people fairly, we’re honest with them, and we do good work,” he said. “If something’s wrong with a boat or if we make a mistake, we’ll take full responsibility and fix it. We just give good quality service, and our customer service is about the best you can get. We’re a family-owned business, and I try to treat people the way I’d want to be treated if I took my truck or boat somewhere.”

After 10 years operating Georgia Watersports, Goldberg and his staff have carved out a niche in the watersports industry. Both he and his owner/brother-in-law put great emphasis on treating their employees well, of which their loyal customer base is arguably a direct result. While Goldberg has plans to provide more parts, boats, and repairs to his customers as time goes on, for now the shop’s manager must settle for a bit of well-learned advice.

“If somebody is wanting to get work done, I would say just find somebody that you trust and feel comfortable with,” he said. “Just be comfortable with the person you’re dealing with at the store you plan on taking your boat to, and if you don’t like them try somebody new.”

Georgia Watersports is located at 3016 N. Columbia St. just south of the Lake Sinclair Bridge. The business is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. It can also be reached online at georgiawatersports.com or by phone at 478-454-0084.


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