Friday, February 27, 2015

70th Annual Grand Rapids Boat Show Reports Impressive Crowds, Sales & Dealer Satisfaction

Organizers, attendees and exhibitors at the 70th Annual Grand Rapids Boat Show, which was held last week at DeVos Place, are all reporting positive feedback and touting the fact that Michigan boating is back! A West Michigan tradition since 1946, the Grand Rapids Boat Show is Michigan’s longest running boat show.

ShowSpan Inc., which produces the show—in addition to 14 others throughout Michigan and Milwaukee—said just under 25,000 guests came through the doors between February 18-22 to check out more than 400 boats from some 100 manufacturers and 40 dealers, spread out over a five acre indoor showroom.

“The 70th anniversary of the Grand Rapids Boat Show was spectacular…..just what the boating families needed in the midst of this arctic freeze, it was truly summertime at DeVos Place as every aspect of the boating lifestyle came to life,” says Henri Boucher, Show Producer. “The dealers and manufacturers showed the newest products for summer fun and the largest crowd of ten years came to check it all out.”

According to the Secretary of State, Michigan currently ranks 4th in nation for the number of registered watercraft, with 898,289 as of February, 2015. Michigan's registered boaters spend $873 million on trips during the relatively short boating season. Overall, recreational boating contributes about $2 billion annually to Michigan’s economy. Tourism as a whole is a $20+ billion industry in Michigan.

“The weekend traffic was fabulous and the buyers were there,” says Liz Carney, President of Grand Bay Marine in Traverse City and Charlevoix, who this year featured the Queen of the Show—a 42-foot Regal Sport Coupe. “We were thrilled with the interest and actual sales. It’s going to be a fabulous year!”

The National Marine Manufacturer’s Association says that in 2013, the latest data year available, Michigan ranked #4 in total new marine expenditures (new boats, engines, trailers, and marine accessories) with $678 million. This was an increase of 5% over 2012. There are approximately 1,404 boating businesses that create about 16,670 direct boating industry jobs in Michigan.

“We are thrilled to have exhibited in a show where everyone who stopped by to see our boats was excited and looking forward to the upcoming boating season,” says Rick Venner of Walstrom Marine in Harbor Springs. “Not once did I hear anyone talking about the poor economy, fuel prices or politics, instead the atmosphere was positive. Michigan boating is back!”

In addition to the variety of boats, the Grand Rapids Boat Show also featured accessories, services, destinations, educational opportunities and various entertainment elements throughout the weekend.

“We have been involved with the show since 2013, and it is obvious that it has grown each year by adding more exhibits to both the business of boating and to appeal to a family atmosphere,” says Elek Hutchinson, Commodore of the Michigan Hydroplane Racing Association. “I have not seen so many kids at a boat show as I did this year—it was wonderful! It's nice to know that groups such as ShowSpan are promoting to the youth of America, a necessity to grow an ever-evolving industry.”

ShowSpan Inc., held its first show in 1946 and today hosts 14 the state’s largest and most recognized consumer shows in Grand Rapids, East Lansing, Novi and Milwaukee.

“In a few weeks, the 70th annual partner to the Boat Show—the Ultimate Sport Show-Grand Rapids—comes to DeVos Place (March 19-22), featuring more summer fun for all outdoorsmen and women,” Boucher says. “People will find everything from fishing and hunting to taxidermy and morels. And, for the 70th anniversary, the Lumberjacks are back!”

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