Miami International Boat Show-the latest update.

Sea-Isle-marina - 2008 Miami International Boat Show
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Results from the 2008 Miami International Boat Show (February 14-18) appear to reflect ‘challenging market conditions.’

According to National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) president Thom Dammrich, they are conditions which have become all too familiar.

“Attendance was up one percent going into the second last day, but a heavy rain storm probably kept five or six thousand prospective visitors away,” he said.

Dammrich said for every person he heard from who claimed a successful show, he was as likely to hear from someone who had a poor show.

“The good news is that the US Federal Reserve is responding with interest rate cuts,” he said. “I expect to see them go even lower and that should hasten a bottom to the housing market. “The job market is still relatively strong, though slowing slightly. It’s not all bad news.'

“Frankly, there are parts of the country that are fairly strong, particularly where housing did not experience really high highs, as well as places such as Texas, where the oil industry is strong.”

Dammrich believes companies that deliver innovative products will be in the best position when the market rebounds. Innovation will help drive new product sales as soon as some of these macroeconomic headwinds pass by,” he said.

Dammrich said there were definitely sales “out there.”

“There are people buying boats, just not as many as we’d like,” he said. “While sales were actually down last year by nine percent in dollars and 15 percent in units, there are still manufacturers and dealers that saw significant gains in sales.

“There are sales to be made for companies with innovative product and an aggressive dealer network,” he added.

I spent some time with Dammrich during the show and despite the current climate he remained upbeat and confident of the future.

And I certainly spoke with manufacturers and dealers who were experiencing a “good show.”

As the dynamic Dammrich points out, negative headwinds will eventually pass by.

The 'big gun' - NMMA president Thom Dammrich with industry identities Kelly Flory (left) and Laura Martin, who comprise Martin Flory Associates, the US industry's best-known communications group. - Miami show