Hi gang, Rick here from Used Pontoon Boats with word from the Dayton Boat Super Show. Area boat dealers are looking to the 2008 Dayton Boat Super Show to kick-start sales in a sagging market.
"We are seeing some positive signs," said Chad Taylor of South Shore Marina at Cowan Lake. "The banks and the manufacturers have been dropping rates, just in time for the boat shows. And the last couple of years, it's the Dayton show that has generated the most sales for many area dealers."
The Dayton show is scheduled for Friday through Feb. 17 and Feb. 21-23 at the Airport Expo Center.
Taylor said sales have been "flat" for the boating industry the last couple of years.
"I wouldn't say they've been terribly down, but certainly they've been flat," Taylor said.
Statistics from the National Marine Manufacturers Association seem to back that up, showing Ohio had $307.4 million in marine sales (all aspects) in 2006, the latest year for which figures are available. That's a 1 percent increase from 2005. Nationally, new boat and motor sales were $15.1 billion in '06, a 3 percent increase from $14.7 billion in 2005.
Rick Cochran of The Dayton Boat Store on Poe Avenue, the only boat dealer in the city of Dayton, said sales have been way off.
"Our service business has been good," Cochran said. "People are starting to bring in boats to be serviced for the spring, but sales of new boats have been bad for the past year."
He, too, looks toward the boat show to get sales started.
"The show is a little later this year, and that's good," he said. "The closer you get to spring with people thinking about getting outdoors, the better it is for boat sales."
Rob Lynch of Wilmington, promoter of the Dayton show, said the show typically draws 15,000 to 16,000 people over the two weekends.
Used Pontoon Boats, By Rick Ostler
Used Pontoon Boats-North American Waterway
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"I don't think all dealers are having trouble selling boats," Lynch said. "I think the ones who are aggressive are successful. The ones that have looked at their markets and what's new in boats seem to be doing OK. It's the ones who haven't changed anything for years who are having trouble."
He pointed out that boat sales seem to run in cycles. Right now, he said, fishing boat sales are down, but ski boats and personal watercraft have been better.
Lynch said another boat that seems to have captured the imagination of boaters has been the pontoon boat — but not your daddy's pontoon. The newer pontoons are built for speed and have large motors to push them up to 60 mph.
"Right now, the fast pontoons are sexy, and everyone knows that sex sells," Lynch said.
The Ohio Division of Watercraft recently released statistics compiled during 2007. Ohio boat registrations were 415,562, fifth highest in state history and 2,984 higher than 2006.
That's a little misleading, however, if you're looking for trends. Since Ohio registrations are valid for three years, it's a better comparison to look at 2004. By doing that, 2007 is up just 624 over 2004.
Ohio is listed ninth in the nation in watercraft registrations, through 2006, by the NMMA. Florida tops the list with 988,652.
John Wisse of the Division of Watercraft said its figures support the idea that power-boat sales have dropped. Registrations of power boats are down 20 percent since 2000, while manually powered crafts (canoes, kayaks, etc.) have risen 41 percent. The state registered an all-time high of 418,701 watercraft in 2000.
"When you consider the economy and the cost of gasoline, it's working against the power-boat dealers," Wisse said. "Not even talking about used, you can get a new canoe for several hundred dollars, and it doesn't cost anything to run it."
That is, of course, if you have the desire or ability to paddle your own canoe.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2409 or jmorris@DaytonDailyNews.com.
U.S., Ohio boating facts
• 17.73 million boats were used in the U.S. in 2006.
• 72.6 million people in the U.S. went boating in 2006.
• Ohio registered 415,562 boats in 2007.
• An estimated 3 million Ohioans go boating each year.
• Recreational boating generates $3.5 billion annually for Ohio's economy. It supports more than 26,000 jobs.
• There are more than 500 marinas and boat dealerships in Ohio.
• Only 18 percent of Ohio boaters wore a life jacket when boating in 2006.
• The Great Lakes region had the most registered boats in the U.S. in 2006 at 3.3 million.
• Top Ohio county for 2007 boat registrations: Franklin with 26,376.
• Top area counties: Hamilton 17,903, Montgomery 15,512, Butler 11,144, Warren 8,147, Miami 5,977, Greene 5,589, Clark 4,869
Sources: National Marine Manufacturers Association, Great Lakes Commission, Ohio State University, Ohio Division of Watercraft.
Thanks to Jim Morris, Staff Writer at daytondailynews.com