NMMA president delivers final State-of-the-Industry address at IBEX

In his final State-of-the-Industry address as president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Thom Dammrich opened the 2018 International Boatbuilders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX) declaring that despite international trade threats, the US recreational boating industry is strong.

Dammrich, who retires next year after nearly 20 years leading the industry group, cautioned that the industry needs to remain diligent in communicating to lawmakers on every level and continue to forge alliances within the industry and related industries “to help policy makers understand the importance of outdoor recreation as an economic driver in our country.”

Dammrich cited NMMA’s leading role in establishing the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, a group of 20 trade associations that promote the policy and legislative reforms needed to enhance the outdoor recreation economy.

Outdoor recreation contributes US$378bn of value added to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year. This equals to 2.2% of total GDP, which Dammrich said, “may not sound like a lot, until you consider that all of agriculture represents 1% of GDP and all of mining represents 1.5% of GDP; so, 2.2% takes on new significance.”

As it happens, the largest sector of Outdoor recreation is boating and fishing, adding some US$38.6bn of value added annually to the GDP.

Dammrich said the industry is the strongest it has been since the mid-1980s, in a current seven-year period of annual growth, capping 2017 with an all-time sales high of US$38.6bn. The outgoing president went on to predict that US boat sales in 2018 could top US$40bn.

The assemblage received one caution that mid-2019 could see a slight slowing in boat sales, but the low point of the slowdown will equal today’s sales levels, with a rebound expected in mid-2020.

“The next three years look positive,” Dammrich said, “and it could be even longer.”