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Manufacturers, dealers ramp up Grow Boating, Inc. to add boat buyers

The National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas have announced the merger of Grow Boating, Inc. into NMMA as part of a redefined strategic partnership between the two organizations.

In addition, NMMA in Canada will work with the U.S.-based NMMA and MRAA to develop coordinated campaigns supporting a more unified North American brand.

The efforts are designed to better-amplify and expand Discover Boating as the marine industry’s primary consumer-facing lifestyle brand.  The MRAA and NMMA partnership and the merger of Grow Boating, Inc. into NMMA were unanimously approved by the manufacturers, dealers and industry stakeholders who make up the Grow Boating board of directors.

Since its creation 15 years ago, Grow Boating, Inc., the parent company to the Discover Boating consumer brand, has operated separately, as a standalone 501c6 corporation managed by the Grow Boating Board of Directors. This separate structure helped establish unprecedented harmony and collaboration across the boating retail and manufacturing sectors to launch Discover Boating — the first industry-wide consumer marketing awareness campaign. Over time, however, with its resources siloed from NMMA and MRAA — the two organizations that guide the Discover Boating strategy — this structure limited Discover Boating’s reach and effectiveness and created unnecessary cost and bureaucracy.

“As we continuously look for ways to increase market share for recreational boating against other recreational activities, the Grow Boating Board of Directors recognized an opportunity to harmonize how Discover Boating is activated through NMMA and MRAA, by leveraging NMMA’s boat show portfolio to put Discover Boating in front of millions more people,” noted Bryan Seti, chairman of the Grow Boating board of directors and Yamaha Watercraft Group general manager. “By merging Grow Boating, Inc. into NMMA and putting forward one brand — Discover Boating — we will be able to leverage NMMA’s 18 boat shows, connecting the brand with sales events and adding significant value to our industry’s investment in the campaign.”

Additionally, in Canada, Discover Boating has operated separately from NMMA Canada and Grow Boating, Inc., with its own board of directors. To further reduce brand fragmentation and duplication and to build a more unified, amplified brand, the NMMA Canada board of directors unanimously approved to dissolve the separate Discover Boating Canada board of directors and align with U.S.-based NMMA and MRAA around a North American Discover Boating brand.

With this integration, the outgoing Grow Boating board of directors, MRAA, NMMA and NMMA Canada will build a Discover Boating Marketing Advisory Committee to live within the NMMA governance structure. The committee will kick off in 2021 and be made up of the industry’s leading marketing minds across North America and include: marine retailers, boat manufacturers, engine manufacturers, marine accessory manufacturers, personal watercraft manufacturers, at-large appointments and the NMMA and MRAA presidents.

As part of this new endeavor, all Grow Boating references will change to Discover Boating. However, there will be no changes to the funding model for Discover Boating. The industry assessments in the United States and levies in Canada that exist today will continue to fund the Discover Boating program as they have since the program was created in 2005. As such, there will be no changes to the invoicing process, other than an eventual re-naming of anything Grow Boating to Discover Boating.

“The momentum to date of the Discover Boating campaign created a compelling case to look at ways the brand could be expanded to increase its impact across North America while operating in the most efficient and nimble way possible,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. “We applaud the Grow Boating board of directors for spearheading this industry-wide strategy as their leadership and vision  build upon Discover Boating’s foundation and create an exciting path forward for our industry.”

The strategic partnership between MRAA and NMMA seeks to strengthen dealer inclusion and engagement in Discover Boating to help amplify the campaign to consumers. Previously, the Grow Boating framework did not define the roles of the organizations or the contributions by the respective NMMA and MRAA teams and did not effectively engage industry dealers, all of which prevented the campaign from reaching its full potential. Through this updated strategic partnership, those roles are clearly defined, and MRAA will take the lead on helping to extend the Discover Boating assets, messaging and opportunities to the dealer body across North America in an effort to drive greater engagement and improvements in boater retention through a focus on the buying and ownership experience.

“Over the years, Discover Boating has created compelling campaign messaging, and its strategy has been effective in garnering the attention of consumers,” says Matt Gruhn, president of the MRAA. “Going forward, we have great opportunity to further attract and retain boaters by strengthening the Discover Boating message through the voice of thousands of dealers, as well as equipping our dealers with better tools and resources that will help them continuously improve the buying and ownership experience they provide.”

Other elements of the MRAA and NMMA partnership to support Discover Boating include:

  • NMMA will continue to steward and own the Discover Boating brand and moving forward will leverage NMMA-owned boat shows to further establish Discover Boating as THE consumer voice for the recreational boating lifestyle. With Discover Boating as the brand behind its boat shows, the campaign’s overall budget and reach will expand as it’s placed in front of millions more consumers, creating a more seamless and meaningful brand and event experience for future customers.
  • and Discover Boating social media will be positioned as THE destination for all-things boating: education, exploration, shows and events and joint MRAA/NMMA consumer advocacy engagement. What’s more, it allows for the creation of a new way to direct leads to exhibitors, dealers and sponsors, furthering a seamless brand experience and industry growth potential.
  • As the customer experience continues to be front-and-center, NMMA and MRAA will elevate promotion of Dealership Certification to improve opportunities for capturing and retaining boat buyers.
  • To help carry Discover Boating messaging to the consumer, especially as it relates to connecting their shopping and ownership experience, MRAA will invest in Discover Boating educational programming to be offered through its wide range of products and services, including Dealership Certification, as well as its annual conference, Dealer Week, and This also includes the production and distribution of Discover Boating marketing content and resources that dealers can leverage as part of their customer acquisition efforts.

Members of the Grow Boating board of directors who spearheaded this industry-transforming strategy to ignite a stronger, more unified Discover Boating brand, include:

  • Bryan Seti, General Manager, Yamaha Watercraft Group (Grow Boating Board Chairman)
  • Peter Barrett, SVP, Marketing and Corporate Development, Smoker Craft, Inc. (Grow Boating Board Vice Chairman)
  • Bill Watters, President, Syntec Industries (Grow Boating Board Treasurer)
  • David Witty, EVP of Retail Operations, One Water Marine Group (Grow Boating Board Secretary)
  • Dale Barnes, Divisional Manager, Marketing, Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA
  • Lauren Beckstedt, Chief Marketing Officer, Brunswick
  • Susan Bonovich, OEM/Dealer Sales Manager, Volvo Penta North America
  • Natalie Carrera, Director of Marketing, Indmar Products, Inc.
  • Louis Chemi, Freedom Boat Club, Vice President, Franchising Systems
  • Michelle Dauchy, Chief Marketing Officer, Mercury Marine
  • Marc Duhamel, General Manager, Legend Boats
  • Phil Estes, Malibu Boats
  • Michele Goldsmith, Publisher, Soundings Trade Only
  • Joe Lewis, Mount Dora Boating Center (Grow Boating Board Past Chairman)
  • Matt Lodder, President, Marine Sales Group
  • Robert Long, Customer Acquisition Manager, White River Marine Group
  • Laurie Louvier, Director of Marketing, Dometic
  • Larry Russo, Sr., SVP, MarineMax Inc.
  • Glenn Sandridge, Group Publisher, Bonnier Corporation
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