Archive for » September 30th, 2017«

Michigan tops nation in discretionary income

Trove Technologies Inc. says it analyzed occupation-specific salaries, tax data and costs of living across cities and states. Michigan came out as top discretionary income dog with an average $8,163, after paying expenses and taxes — meaning that’s potentially extra money that people can spend on such things as dinners out, vacations, hot tubs, boats, RVs, or anything else their heart desires.

California residents only average $56 in discretionary income per year, and Maine folks are in the hole an average $1,241 each year.

Lynn Darr, sales manager at North Shore Marina, said discretionary income drives many businesses.

“Obviously, discretionary income is important to anyone in the recreation industry, whether it’s boats, RVs or whatever — that’s always a plus,” he said. “It’s good for business if there’s discretionary income for everyone — the economy is good and people are willing to spend money.”


Darr estimates new and used boat sales have increased 10-15 percent over last year.

“It’s been a very good year,” he said. “It’s been a constant uptick.”

Regionally, discretionary income appears strong, too. Although Trove Tech didn’t have data available for Ottawa County or Grand Haven, Muskegon fared particularly well, ranking seventh in the nation among small cities, with $6,273 in discretionary income. The top jobs in Muskegon are sailors/marine oilers, food prep and service workers, personal care aides, receptionists, and medical assistants.

Harold Hall, owner of Hall’s Sport Centers in Grand Haven and Muskegon, said he’s surprised, but pleased, with Michigan’s ranking.

“Discretionary income is very, very important to our business,” he said. “The problem is what I sell definitely has to be extra money because you don’t have to have a boat.”

Hall said low interest rates, favorable weather and stabilized fuel prices have skyrocketed boat sales the past three years. And last weekend’s heat helped, too. Hall’s Sport Center delivered 8-10 boats and put them in the water, he said.

Hall said he sees “help wanted” signs everywhere he travels, and when he delivered a boat to Traverse City last week, he saw a sign at a Burger King advertising starting pay at $12.25 per hour.

“That’s good,” Hall said. “People have to make money to buy boats from me.”

The study found that the Michigan cost of living averaged 15-20 percent below the national average.

Michael Pao, co-founder of Trove Technologies, said the data shows regional differences in take-home pay after factoring in salaries, cost of living and taxes. It tracked 778 occupations.

“Michigan ranks in the top echelon of states when it comes to enabling workers to keep more of what they earn,” Pao said. “Our research finds that Michigan blows away the rest of the country in terms of affordability, with housing expenses coming in at 32 percent lower than the national average and non-housing expenses 8 percent lower.”

Pao said many of his customers are trying to figure out the best place to live, and this study helps paint the picture in black and white in terms of finances.

“Cost of living calculators don’t adjust for salary,” Pao said. “We take salaries, taxes, cost of living and put it into one big, happy product. How much money you make and how much you take home is one of the factors people consider when they’re deciding where to live. We just want to make the information easily accessible to people.”

Pao said he was shocked at how Californian cities ranked, and yet, how many people choose to live there.

“It was an eye-opener to see the spread between Michigan and California,” he said. “If people had more information, they might think twice about where they choose to live. I think Michigan is a great place to live. Sometimes it isn’t the first place that people think of, but if people want to have a good living and raise their families, it’s a great place.”

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Scout Signals — Dorchester County boat maker launches new models designed to fit size niches, tout innovations

Today’s recreational marine business is steering toward high-tech, energy-efficient vessels offering models for all ranges of boaters. At least that’s the tone of Scout Boats’ annual media day and dealer meeting this week, in which the company unveiled new vessels and showcased one-of-a-kind equipment.

Headquartered in Summerville, Scout Boats introduced its new 355 LXF, 235 XSF and 251 XSS models, which are roughly 35- 23- and 25-footers respectively. The company, which builds its boats at a plant in Dorchester County, disclosed “new innovations” including bow-mounted cameras, heated helm seats and hardtop-mounted solar panel battery chargers as available options on its LXF fleet. The boat maker also showcases a two-toned Cayenne interior upholstery package, which it noted is available on select models.

Scout chief executive and founder Steve Potts credited the manufacturer’s research and development department with a tireless effort to bring “exciting” new equipment to its model lines. “Our LXF series is the example of luxury married with performance,” he said. “We feel it’s incredibly important to provide the types of innovations that ‘wow’ our customers and exceed their expectations.”

Potts continued, “Couple these with our new model debuts of the 380 LXF earlier this year and the work we’re doing on our new 530 LXF flagship that will debut spring 2018, we continue to move the industry forward with state-of-the-art innovations for the discerning boat buyer who wants only the best.”

On Sept. 24 at Charleston Harbor Marina, the chief executive met with marine and boating writers while displaying the three new models.

“We’re very diverse,” he said. The 355 LXF comes restyled with a “seakeeper,” — a vessel stabilizer — and includes a revised 4cabin seating design. Scout rolled out the 235 XSF as a strategic move to fit a size between the existing 21 and 25 foot editions. The bow, or front, eye camera helps the captain to see the anchor raised and lowered. Solar panel chargers assist in cloudier and colder weather climates when owners may not be able to get the boat on the water for months. The charger “keeps the batteries fresh,” Potts said.

The 355 LXF is set up with a power system for boaters who don’t have generators. “People can still add all the electronics,” from LED lights to directional equipment, even drink-mixing blenders, he said.

Scout Boats held its annual dealer meeting Sept. 25-26 in the Charleston area.

The manufacturers honored a dozen operators from Bermuda to Michigan including MarineMax Hall Marine of Charleston-Mount Pleasant as a top dealer. Viage Group Sarasota won as dealer of the year and its TeamViage Group was awarded salesman of the year. Other top dealers included in Florida, Seven Seas Yacht Sales in Fort Lauderdale, Walkers Marine in Fort Myers, MarineMax Miami, Legendary Marine Destin and Viage Group St. Petersburg; Maryland, MarineMax Baltimore; North Carolina, Boats Unlimited Wilimington; and Michigan, SkipperBud’s Grand Haven. Marine Locker Bermuda in Hamilton, Bermuda won as top international dealer.

“We had our most successful dealer meeting to date,” said Alan Lang, sales and marketing director. “Our new model unveilings were well received by the media, our dealers and our customers who attended our boat sale expo, and we’re very proud of the dealer network we’ve built and how hard they work on our behalf,” he says.

Scout describes itself as a builder of luxury sportfishing center console, dual console and inshore/bay boat models 17-53 feet. “Since its founding nearly three decades ago, the company’s goal has been to manufacture the best-built boats in its distinctive sportfishing niches,” the company said.


For more information or photos, go to

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or

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Inverkip set to host Scotland’s Boat Show


SCOTLAND’S Boat Show returns to Inverkip next month and it is set to be the biggest yet.

Organisers are busy preparing for the return of the annual extravaganza at Kip Marina, which is on from October 13-15.

Now in its 31st year, the 2017 event will feature a record number of exhibitors and plenty to see and do for all the family on water and on land.

Celebrity chef Nick Nairn is also returning and, with the help of students from West College Scotland in Greenock, will put on culinary masterclasses over the course of the three days.

The event attracts around 16,000 people every year and the 2016 30th anniversary show was opened by HRH Princess Anne.

This year will once again be focused on getting people involved in boats and boating.

Marina boss Gavin McDonagh, managing director of owners Holt Leisure, said: “We have always been in the forefront of Scotland’s marine tourism initiative and, together with our key partners, are putting all the resources of Scotland’s Boat Show behind encouraging new people to take to the water.

“As we have now established SBS as the major event on the Scottish marine calendar it is the perfect opportunity to combine the success of the show with a gateway to get visitors afloat and encourage them to enjoy Scotland’s world class sailing waters.”

Last year’s successful ‘Get on the Water’ pavilion returns, sponsored by Riverside Inverclyde, and has been expanded to include free lectures, presentations and demonstrations and there will be representatives from various owner’s associations and manufacturers, who can advise on how to get involved in every type water sport from sailing, powerboats, RIBs, jetskis, paddleboards, canoes or even model boats.

There will be taster sessions courtesy of RYA Scotland allowing visitors to try yachts, motor yachts, RIB driving and dinghy sailing.

The popular WCS Food and Drink pavilion is also back and will be packed full of artisan products and a range of goods from fashion to furniture.

There will also be cars from the likes of Porsche, Morgan and Tesla, the chance to ride in an F1 powerboat, helicopter flights, entertainment, including from the Inverclyde and Largs Rock Choirs, and of course a huge range of new and pre-owned boats for sale.

Roseann Sweeney, boat sales manager of Michael Schmidt Partner, said: “We will have the UK’s largest display of used boats in one place at Scotland’s Boat Show this year and we are advising potential buyers and sellers to contact us as soon as possible before the show.”

Admission to the boat show is free and parking costs £5.

For more information visit or call 521485.

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